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 O. McLaughlin, MDiv, PhD – a native of Fort Valley, Georgia – is the founding President/CEO of the Fathers and Families Resource/Research Center dba Fathers and Families Center. Originally serving as the Program Director for Wishard Hospital’s Father Resource Program in 1993, Dr. McLaughlin expanded program services; transitioning from a hospital-based program into a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit agency in 1999 while maintaining its affiliation with Eskenazi Health (then Wishard Hospital). In 2003, the agency received United Way of Central Indiana accreditation. Since its inception, Dr. McLaughlin has been responsible for the overall vision and leadership of the agency; assisting over 20,000 fathers in achieving self-sufficiency, strengthening their families, and impacting 50,000 children.
Recognized as one of the early national leaders in Responsible Fatherhood field in the 1990s, he – with 17 other members – chartered the National Practitioners Network for Fathers and Families with support from the Ford Foundation. Under his leadership, the agency was selected to participate in a 10-city national initiative to promote responsible fatherhood and increase child support among poor, single fathers in 1999. Under his leadership the Center has secured federal, state, and local funding to support initiatives promoting responsible fatherhood and economic and family stability. Additionally, the agency was one of the first recipients of the national Responsible Fatherhood grant, and a subsequent recipient of HHS/ACF’s Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Relationship Education grants for over ten years.
Immediately upon graduation from the University of West Georgia (1978), Dr. McLaughlin was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force in 1979. In 1991, he resigned his commission as Captain after serving 12 years on active and reserve duty. While serving in the military, Dr. McLaughlin was ordained as a minister in the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church. After completing his military service, he attended Harvard Divinity School and was awarded an MDiv degree in 1986. He then went on to Purdue University to earn his PhD in Family Studies in 1993.
Dr. McLaughlin has served on national boards and state task forces and commissions for Governors O’Bannon and Bayh. He is a national speaker, trainer, and consultant on the issues of fatherhood. Most notably, his consulting helped found the Fathers and Families Support Center in St. Louis, MO. His leadership and vision in designing and developing model programs for at-risk African American men in the community has been recognized in two Indianapolis Mayors’ Task Force Reports on Crime Prevention and in HHS’s National Spotlight.
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 2008, the agency received the US Department of Labor Champion of Compassion award. 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. In 2019 he was presented the Hoosier Heritage Night Award in recognition of a lifetime of achievement and contribution to Indianapolis communities. Currently, he serves as Pastor of Covenant Community Church in Indianapolis as well as a member of the Indianapolis Chapter of 100 Black Men’ Board of Directors as Chaplain. He is also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He is married to 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).
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.
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.
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