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.

Wallace McLaughlin


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.


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.