The Fathers and Families Center team is passionate, talented, and supportive of all our program participants and their families. Our diverse staff is united in the belief that every man who walks through our doors can build a noble legacy of fatherhood for their children. See our team members below—and be sure to take a look at our bios to learn more about us.
Education: BBA. University of West Georgia; MDiv, Harvard University; PhD., Purdue University
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: Since the beginning!
Wallace McLaughlin, PhD, a native of Fort Valley, Georgia, is the president/CEO of Fathers and Families Center. Immediately upon graduation from the University of West Georgia, Dr. McLaughlin was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. In 1991, he resigned his commission as captain after serving 12 years on active and reserve duty. He was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service.
While serving in the military, Dr. McLaughlin was ordained as a minister in the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church. After completing his military duty, Dr. McLaughlin attended Harvard Divinity School and was awarded the Masters of Divinity degree. As an ordained minister he served as associate pastor for youth and young adults in churches in Fort Meade, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; and Boston, Massachusetts. He also served as campus minister at the Wesley Foundation (United Methodist) at Purdue University, and pastor of Grace Memorial C.M.E. Church, Indianapolis, Indiana.
In 1993, Dr. McLaughlin founded and served as pastor of Imani Community Church for 23 years with a special outreach ministry to young urban fathers and their families. He has traveled extensively and done missionary work in Haiti, Brazil, and Ecuador. Currently, he serves as pastor of Covenant Community Church.
While completing his PhD at Purdue University, he started working with Wishard’s Social Work Department as the program director for its Father Resource Program. The program grew and evolved into an independent 501(c)(3). Dr. McLaughlin was asked to serve as the president/CEO in 1999.
Since then, he has continued to serve in this leadership role. For the last 2 years, the vision of Dr. Wallace McLaughlin has manifested into one of the most successful non-profit agencies in the country that concentrates primarily on fatherhood. Since program inception, Fathers and Families Center has assisted approximately 20,000 fathers in achieving self-sufficiency and in strengthening their families to improve the lives of their children. In the past two Mayor’s Task Force reports on crime prevention, Fathers and Families Center has been recognized as a model program for working with at-risk African-American men in the community.
Under his leadership, Fathers and Families Center has secured federal, state, and local funding to support initiatives promoting responsible fatherhood, healthy relationships, ex-offender re-integration, crime prevention, and raising special needs children. Dr. McLaughlin has led the agency in transitioning from a hospital-based program to an independent, free-standing, community-based organization, receiving United Way Certification and increasing community awareness and support.
Dr. McLaughlin is a national speaker, trainer, and consultant on the issues of responsible fatherhood. In 2005, he was selected as a member of the Inaugural Class of Hoosier Fellows. In 2006, he received the Stew Wood Youth Advocacy Award for outstanding youth advocacy in the community. In 2009, he received the Greater Indianapolis NAACP Humanitarian Award. In 2016, Dr. McLaughlin received the Jefferson Award and the Center for Leadership Development’s Minority Achievers Award in recognition of outstanding public service. He is a member of the Indianapolis Chapter of the 100 Black Men and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
He is married to the former Karla Ann Hay of Toronto, Canada, and they are the proud parents of one son, Jackson Karl McLaughlin.
Director of Operations and Grants Management
Education: Bachelor’s degrees in sociology and psychology, University of California at Santa Cruz; MS in education, Indiana University
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: Since 2013, right after the Faces of Fatherhood Luncheon!
How I help participants: By trying to find funds to continue to provide programs and services for participants and their families.
My family includes: My two furry kids: Laverne the Pomeranian and Lucy the cat. Also, a special shout out to my mum!
Fun Fact: When I was a teenager, I trained monkeys for space flight with NASA.
Anna Melodia has been employed with Fathers and Families Center since 2013. She possesses over 20 years of experience in nonprofit and academic leadership and administration. Prior to her appointment at Fathers and Families Center, she served in various roles, including executive director for Brain Injury Association of Indiana, education division director for the National FFA Organization, and assistant vice chancellor for student life and diversity at IUPUI. She was the inaugural recipient of the Anna Melodia Building Community Award for her work on enhancing student life and a sense of community. She has published several articles and essays and has received numerous awards and recognitions for her commitment to serving underserved people in our communities.
Director of Programs and Evaluation
Education: PhD, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Indiana University
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: Since the beginning of 2018.
How I help participants: I work with managers and staff to build a strong and effective team and conduct/coordinate evaluation efforts for our programs and services.
My family includes: Four children ages 4–14, my wife, cat, and mother-in-law.
Fun Fact: I speak, read, and write Russian—especially when I don’t want someone reading over my shoulder.
Joseph Palus, Ph.D., has 30 years of experience in nonprofit management, including 20 years of internal and external consulting to help customers address their program evaluation, organizational development, research, and capacity-building challenges. In addition, Dr. Palus has assisted nonprofit startups in three states to develop the necessary governance, strategy, program development, and revenue mix to generate sustained impact on their communities. His dissertation research revolved around exploring the degree to which family foundation trustees seek to balance their social impact-related purposes (such as reducing illiteracy) with their family-related purposes (such as transmitting charitable values across generations).
Joseph’s oldest daughter has been calling him Atticus Finch ever since she read To Kill a Mockingbird (but only in reference to his age).
Health and Wellness Manager
Education: MDiv, Oral Roberts University
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: For 12 years.
How I help participants: As mental health and wellness manager, I conduct mental health and substance abuse assessments and provide individual and couples therapy using a variety of treatment modalities.
My family includes: I have been married for 32 years and have two sons.
Fun Fact: I discovered I’m not a Cavaliers fan. I’m a LeBron James fan!
Terrence Harper serves as the Fathers and Families Center mental health and wellness manager. In this position, Mr. Harper conducts mental health and substance abuse assessments, and provides individual and couples therapy.
Terrence is a graduate of Ball State University and holds a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University. While at Ball State, he founded the campus organization Intra-Denominational, where he was the president. He has been in the addictions and mental health field for more than 20 years and is a certified addictions specialist and licensed mental health counselor.
For 10 years, Terrence served as a coordinator for a chemical dependency/dual partial hospitalization relapse prevention and intensive outpatient program. In 1998, he founded and served as a pastor for the Family Outreach Center Church. The church was converted to a 501(c)(3) counseling outreach ministry for alcohol, drug, and mental health services in 2003. Terrence also served as Pastor of Covenant Community Church and continues to serve in a local church, teaching members to reach their highest level of spirituality. He has been married for 32 years and has two sons.
Terrence actually believes that the Dallas Cowboys are going to the Super Bowl every year, even if they go 8-8 in any given season! Terrence believes that success or failure in life is not by accident, it’s intentional!
James Melton, Jr.
Fatherhood Services Manager
Education: B.S., Health Care Management, A.S., Social Services
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: 10 Years as of April 2018! Yeah!
How I help participants: I work with participants who are in pursuit of better education and training. I also work with participants on improving the quality of their relationships; with family, children, parents, and others in their community.
My family includes: My wife of 20 years, Tara; my 18-year-old daughter, a freshman at North Carolina A & T; a soon-to-be junior at Lawrence Central High School; a soon-to-be eighth grader at Belzer Middle School; and last but not least, Bear, our vicious and ferocious Maltese guard dog.
Fun Fact: I had the pleasure of serving over 20 years active duty in the U.S. Air Force and spent a part of my career in Greenland (Thule Air Base). I saw icebergs and glaciers up close and personal.
James D. Melton serves as the family services manager for Fathers and Families Center. He is responsible for assisting young fathers in realizing their potential as men, fathers, husbands, sons, friends, and good citizens.
James was raised in the Hoosier State, growing up in the Meadows Apartment Complex, and returned after serving over 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. His Air Force career was spent managing various health care clinics and in-patient units. The latter part he served as faculty supervisor for educational services at one of only nine Enlisted Air Force Management and Leadership Academies. His formal training, teaching experience, and background in curriculum and program development increases the level of service provided to all those seeking assistance at the Center. James’ commitment, eagerness, and dedication to serve others greatly benefits the young fathers and families served here.
James has 15 years of healthcare administration experience, and 20+ years of financial and organizational management experience. He has completed courses and earned certifications in numerous areas, including customer service training, total quality management, and hospital and primary care management. He has received a Basic Instructor Course Diploma, Technical Training Teaching Practicum Diploma, Occupational Instructor Certificate, and Six Sigma Green Belt.
James earned three associates in applied science degrees, including instructional technology, social services, and allied health services from the Community College of the Air Force, and received his BS in healthcare management (cum laude), from Southern Illinois University. He has also earned over 100 military performance commendations and awards, including being recognized as the 2003 Air Education and Training Command Mid-Level Business Manager of the Year for Medical Services.
James is married to the love of his life, Mrs. Tara Y. (Dudley) Melton. They are the proud parents of three beautiful children, Zipporah, Jaela, and James Daniel.
LaNita M. Nixon
Workforce Development Manager
Education: BS in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation with specialty in Recreation Therapy; master-level coursework in Public Health Administration
Been a part of Father and Families Center: Since March 8, 2004.
How I help participants: Prepare for, secure, and retain gainful employment.
My family includes: My wonderful son and daughter.
Fun facts: I love to travel and entertain. My favorite movies are The Godfather, Jaws, and Jurassic Park!
LaNita M. Nixon has been employed with Fathers and Families Center since 2004. She possesses over 20 years’ experience in the workforce field doing recruitment, employment management, business development, and job placement. Ms. Nixon has a B.S. degree from Indiana University and graduate hours in public administration. She is passionate about helping our fathers obtain gainful employment, and she enjoys travel.
How I help participants: I help keep the building and the grounds clean and working!
My family includes: My wife Devi, with a combined family of seven children and Sparky the dog.
Fun Fact: I went on a mission trip to India with my wife.
Education: B.S. Central State University, Wilberforce
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: Since 2013.
Gordon D. Flick
Education: ABA, Indiana Business College; BBAs (BBA Accounting and Finance), St. Joseph’s College; MBA, Indiana Wesleyan University, Certified MBA professional designation
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: Since 2002.
How I help participants: By making sure the financial end of the business runs smoothly and by being a father figure to some of those special participants who warm my heart with their success.
My family includes: The members of the three churches I am involved with.
Fun Fact: I am the sexton of a church in inner-city Indianapolis. How many accountants do you know who have been trained to drive a semi?
Victoria D. Handy
Education: MDiv., Christian Theological Seminary; B.S. in Chemistry (cum laude), Alabama State University.
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: Since August 2014.
How I help participants: By believing in them even when they don’t believe in themselves. By being their best cheerleader even on their worst day. By telling them that giving up is not an option, tempered with plenty of humor.
My family includes: My son, Marcus, who is my pride and joy! Iron sharpens iron!
Fun Fact: I’m very adventurous. I jumped into the ocean from a 32-foot cliff in Jamaica and climbed to the top of a steep mountain in French Lick, IN.
Family Services Specialist
Education: Business Management, Alabama A&M
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: Since 2008.
How I help participants: I help men identify their responsibilities as a father and to accept those responsibilities by modeling respect and helping them to build a sense of self-worth.
My family includes: Everyone who has a direct link to my heart.
Fun Fact: I don’t like cake or many other sweets, but I do like cheesecake, sweet potato pie, and cherries in the snow.
John S Muhammad
Family Support Services Specialist
Education: BS, Health and Human Services, Purdue University.
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: Since December 2011.
My Family Includes: Mother: Elizabeth; Wife: Tosha; Sons: Randy, Christopher, Jackson, and John; Daughters: Amber, Jasmine, Candace, Constance, Ceara, Chasidy; Daughters through marriage: Vanity, Summer; Grandsons: Dominic, Cash, Chris, King; Granddaughters: Desta, Adrianna, Aaliyah, Lilliana, Londyn.
How I help participants: I desire to help participants understand their importance and value through mentoring, instruction, discipline, modeling, sharing, advocating, and caring.
Fun Fact: If you ask me a question it may take a while before you get an answer. So you will probably have time to go to the restroom, take a nap, start a load of laundry, change a tire, walk the dog, and wash dishes.
Family Support Services Specialist
Education: BS in Social Rehabilitation Services and Psychology (double major), Troy State University
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: Since January 8, 2007.
How I help participants: I teach healthy relationship skills to both fathers and their significant others.
My family includes: My husband, son, and grandchildren. Also, a host of relatives in the South.
Fun Fact: I have a tendency to tell someone something over and over, without realizing that I’ve done it. Most people are just being nice when they act as if it’s the first time they’ve heard the story.
Fund Development Specialist
Education: BA in Anthropology, IUPUI. Enrolled in MA in Philanthropic Studies, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Indiana University
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: Since 2017.
How I help participants: I help find the funding to keep the doors open and the lights on.
My family includes: Wife: Kari; Children: Henry, Edith, Alice, Nia.
Fun Facts: When I was 19, I spent two years backpacking across the country and made it to 49 out of 50 states. Just Alaska left to go!
ETO Administrator Consultant
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Purdue University
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: Almost 5 years
How I help the participants: I coordinate program reporting metrics which helps to strengthen programs and secure funding so that we can continue to provide services.
Family: 2 children Logan and Londyn
Fun Fact: I have a twin brother