NCFR Recognizes Melissa Rector LaGraff for Outstanding Research Proposal

Melissa Rector LaGraff

The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) is proud to recognize Melissa Rector LaGraff, M.S., as the 2019 recipient of the Feldman Outstanding Research Proposal for Research in Family Policy Award, which recognizes a graduate student or new professional who has demonstrated excellence in research and potential contribution to family policy studies, particularly in the areas of gender/women's issues or poverty. Her paper is titled “Workplace Flexibility, Work-Family Guilt, and Parenting Behavior of Parents of Young Children.”

Ms. LaGraff is a doctoral candidate in child and family studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT). She received her bachelor of science in human ecology and master of science in child and family studies from UT. Prior to returning to graduate school to pursue her doctorate degree, Ms. LaGraff was a county director and family & consumer sciences agent with UT Extension where she provided educational programs and research-based information related to financial management, nutrition and food safety, health, and human development to adult and youth audiences.

Ms. LaGraff’s research experience has included conducting a longitudinal evaluation of a parenting program for divorcing parents of minor children as well as assisting with the development of Tennessee Dad, an in-home parenting education program for fathers of infants, and its program evaluation. She is currently coordinating data collection efforts in Tennessee for a multi-state, large-scale evaluation study of a language and literacy intervention and its impact on teacher practices.

Ms. LaGraff serves as the treasurer for the Southeastern Council of Family Relations (SECFR). She was the 2018 recipient of the Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching Award given by the UT Graduate Student Senate. In addition to her experience with program evaluation, Ms. LaGraff’s research examines how work life influences parenting decisions and behaviors as well as how to improve family functioning through family policies and parenting education.

Ms. LaGraff will be recognized for his achievement at the 2019 NCFR Annual Conference, Nov. 20-23 in Fort Worth, Texas.

The award is presented in memory of Harold Feldman and Margaret Feldman, NCFR members and pioneers in the field of family policy.

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