Debra L. Berke Selected as 2022 NCFR Annual Conference Program Chair


SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA The National Council on Family Relations’ (NCFR) Board of Directors has appointed Debra L. Berke, Ph.D., CFLE, to be program chair for the 2022 NCFR Annual Conference, scheduled to be held in Minneapolis. The program chair’s primary duties are to select the theme, identify the plenary speakers, and prepare the call for abstracts for a particular year’s conference.

Dr. Berke is the director of the newly created Center for Prevention Science at Wilmington University, where she has served as professor and director of the college's psychology programs since 2009. She is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in human development and family studies. She also holds a doctorate in family studies from the University of Delaware. Prior to joining the Wilmington University faculty, she taught family studies and women’s studies for 15 years at Messiah College, where she also directed the Gender Studies Project.

Dr. Berke is a leader in bringing recognition to trauma-informed approaches and has led the training to develop Delaware as a trauma-informed state. In 2016, under her guidance, an undergraduate Trauma-Informed Approaches certificate was launched at Wilmington University. To date this is the only undergraduate certificate in this field in the U.S. Dr. Berke is the current co-editor for the “Professional Development and Reflection Center” of Family Science Review and has served as president of the Family Science Association.

Dr. Berke is an established leader at NCFR, serving in many capacities including chair of the Family Policy Section, chair of the Education and Enrichment Section, and as a member-at-large of the NCFR Board of Directors. She also brings experience in conference planning to this role having served on the annual conference planning committees for both the Family Science Association and the Groves Conference on Marriage and Family in 2019.

Dr. Berke has proposed the theme “Light and Shadow: Shifting Perspectives and Families” as the theme for the 2022 Annual Conference. This conference theme will enable professionals to explore the metaphors of light and shadow as they relate to Family Science and families: What does it mean for individuals, families, communities, or scholars to be in shadow (blocked from light)? Does being in shadow mean phenomena are unseen, unrecognized, emerging, not valued, or stigmatized? Conversely, what does it mean to be in the spotlight?

The NCFR Elections Council was impressed with Dr. Berke’s proposal and her decades of experience in academia and applied research, particularly her insights into trauma-informed intervention, and noted that “she is attuned to the synergy gained from how teaching and research inform each other.” In their recommendation to the NCFR Board of Directors, council members wrote that “as director of academic departments and community programs in diverse settings, Dr. Berke can also respect and include the full range of small to large university family scientists, as well as practitioners, advocates, and educators, that make up NCFR membership.


The National Council on Family Relations is the premier professional association for the multidisciplinary understanding of families. NCFR has a membership of nearly 3,000 family researchers, practitioners and educators. For more information on the National Council on Family Relations or its scholarly publications, visit the NCFR website at