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 8–18, 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).
Fatherhood Services Manager
Education:B.S. Indiana University
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: January 2022
How I help participants: Everyday I bring my passion for helping others and wanting to see them succeed.
My family includes: five beautiful daughters, 2 grandsons and 2 granddaughters
Fun Fact: In high school I played football and was also in the band. During the homecoming parade, I wore my full football uniform under my band uniform.
Jack has a passion for working in the community. His experience is quite varied. He has been a small business owner, but he loves working in public not-for-profit programs. Most recently, he has been an instructor with Indianapolis Public schools. Prior to working in IPS, Jack worked at Midtown Community Mental Health Centers. He was also a firefighter with the Indianapolis Fire Department. Administratively, Jack has worked with Children’s Bureau and as Assistant Director for Programs at Reach for Youth and Volunteers of America, respectively. Jack is very active in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and volunteers regularly in several programs within the Indianapolis area.
Women and Family Engagement Coordinator
Education: MPA, Indiana Wesleyan University
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: January 2022
How I help participants: By encouraging, empowering and building others up, one family at a time.
My family includes: My husband, and our wonderful combined family of seven children and seven grandchildren
Fun Fact: I love to say movie quotes.
“It’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.” – Training Day
I have over 24 years of experience working in the city and state government which includes the criminal legal system and family court.
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: Bachelor’s Degree: Social & Behavioral Sciences; Educational Studies – Indiana University
How I help participants: I help participants by teaching them the skills to become not just employable but promotable.
Fun Fact: Nicole received the President’s Young Writers Award and became a published author at the age of 16.
Nicole was born and raised on the west side of Indianapolis where she graduated from Ben Davis High School. She then went on to attend Indiana University-Bloomington through the IU GROUPS Scholars Program. She earned a degree in Social Behavioral Sciences and double minored in Sociology and Educational Studies. Upon receiving her bachelor’s degree, she returned home to Indianapolis where she worked in the education field as a teacher and behavior specialist before spending the next 5 years working in Workforce Development helping underserved/ at-risk youth become job ready and live independently.
In 2017 Nicole attained a certification in Managing Aggressive Behavior (MAB) from University of Oklahoma, where the emphasis was Trauma Responsive Crisis Management.
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.
Executive Assistant to President/CEO
Education: B.S. from Indiana University
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: June 2021
How I help participants: By keeping the President/CEO and other executives on track so they may accomplish the goals of Fathers and Families Center.
My family includes: Four wonderful boys, three beautiful daughter-in-laws and two adventurous granddaughters
Fun Fact: I know how to epee and foil fence. Engarde!
Workforce Development Manager
Education: Associate of Arts, The Ohio State University; BA, General Studies (Concentration Social and Behavioral Sciences), Indiana University; MPA, Columbia Southern University
Been a part of Fathers and Families Center: December 2021
How I help participants: I help participants by finding them training and/or employment so they may become self sufficient and take care of their family.
My family includes: My parents, Siblings (I have one younger brother and four younger sisters), siblings-in-law (one sister in-law and three brothers-in-law, and one niece, Aria and nephew, Ken!
I absolutely love sports especially basketball; I played in high school and college. One of my favorite basketball memories is coaching an amazing group of 6th graders, including my youngest sister, and seeing them win a YMCA League Championship! I’m also a huge University of Michigan fan! (Not easy growing up in Ohio).
Andrea Morrow joined the Fathers and Families Center in 2021. For 10 years, Andrea has served mission-driven organizations throughout northwest and central Ohio. She has developed and implemented high-quality, integrated-service delivery systems and programs that provided pathways to self-sufficiency for adults and youth; that includes Steps to Success which won an Exemplary Programs Award issued by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies and The Ohio State University John Glenn College of Public Affairs.
Prior to joining the Fathers and Families Center, Andrea served in various roles including the Director of Youth Services for IMPACT Community Action, Workforce Training Coordinator for Northwest Stare Community College and Director of Employment and Training Services for West Ohio Community Action Partnership. She is a member of the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals and is passionate about continuing to grow and develop as an innovative workforce development professional and servant-leader.
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: 3 children
Fun Fact: I have a twin brother