Dallas–Fort Worth Family Service Leaders Invited to Share Their Expertise at National Research Conference

Knowing how families can thrive in a healthy, productive way is more important than ever.

One key to unlocking that opportunity for more families is to strengthen connections between research on family relationships and on-the-ground efforts that practitioners provide families in communities across the country.

Representatives of three Dallas–Fort Worth social service agencies will help further these kinds of connections at the annual academic research conference of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) in Fort Worth, Texas, this November. They have been invited to present at a special conference session on Saturday, Nov. 23 about the work they do locally to an audience of researchers from across the U.S. and other countries around the world. They will also discuss with the family researchers present how they can mutually collaborate for the benefit of families today.

The session will feature these local professionals and their agencies:

  • Mervil Johnson, M.P.A., Workforce Collaboration Manager, Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County. Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County’s mission is to ensure the economic vitality of the community by building and maintaining a quality workforce development system that strengthens and provides economic, educational, and developmental opportunities for all people, including children and youth.

  • Shalaina Abioye, M.A., Ed.D. (ABD), Director of Refugee, Veteran and Diocesan Services, Catholic Charities Fort Worth. Catholic Charities Fort Worth offers diverse services, poverty solutions, and income-generating social enterprises that help tens of thousands in the 28-county diocese each year, most of whom are the working poor.

  • J'Vonnah Maryman, Ph.D., M.P.H., Associate Director, Family Health Services, Tarrant County Public Health. Tarrant County Public Health’s (TCPH) mission is to advance the community's health through accountability, quality, and innovation. Since its inception in the 1950s, TCPH has provided services aimed at promoting, achieving, and maintaining a healthy standard of living for Tarrant County residents.

During the Nov. 23 session, each representative will present to researcher attendees about their agency, the experiences of the families in their agencies’ programs, and the successes and challenges they face in working with families.

The representatives and researchers will have the opportunity to discuss how they can work together to bridge the gaps that can exist between obtaining research findings that are useful in practice, and making those research findings available and accessible so that practitioners can apply the findings in their work with families.

“The concept of ‘translating’ research so practitioners can apply evidence-based findings in the real world is incredibly important in helping families succeed and thrive,” said Jennifer Crosswhite, NCFR’s director of research and policy education who leads programming for the NCFR Annual Conference. “Equally important is the opportunity for researchers to learn more about what practitioners working directly with families truly need from the research community.”

This event will be just the beginning of the professional relationship between NCFR researchers and local practitioners. The agencies and NCFR will continue working after the conference to further research–practice connections.


The 2019 NCFR Annual Conference is planned for Nov. 20–23, 2019, at the Omni Hotel in Fort Worth. Each year, hundreds of faculty, researchers, and students attend and present their scholarly research at the conference. Presenters and attendees come from the disciplines of Family Science, psychology, sociology, human development, family therapy, demography, social work, and more.

The invited session with Dallas–Fort Worth agency representatives, “Building Bridges Between Researchers and Local Agencies: An Interactive Co-Learning Experience” is scheduled for 11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) is the premier professional association for understanding and strengthening families through interdisciplinary research, theory, and practice. NCFR has a membership of nearly 3,000 family researchers, practitioners, and educators. In addition to hosting an annual conference, NCFR publishes three academic journals, offers a certification for Family Life Education professionals, and provides numerous professional resources to its members. For more information about NCFR, visit the NCFR website at ncfr.org