Keynote Speaker


Velma McBride Murry, Ph.D., Betts Chair in Education and Human Development, Professor of Human and Organizational Development, Director, Center for Research on Rural Families and Communities, Peabody College, and Co-Director, Vanderbilt Medical Center, CTSA, Community Engagement Research Core, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Dr. Murry has conducted research on rural African American parents and youth for 20 years and has identified proximal, malleable protective factors that deter youth risk engagement. Findings from these empirical studies informed the development of a curriculum, the Strong African American Families Program, which was designed to enhance parenting and family processes to encourage youth to delay the age of sexual onset and the initiation and escalation of alcohol and other drug use. Results from her longitudinal trials with African American families also informed the design, development, and implementation of the Pathways for African American Success Program, the first family-based, technology-interactive program targeting youth risk reduction by enhancing caregivers’ regulated communicative parenting and youths’ racial identity, self-esteem, decision-making processes, and risk-resistant efficacy. Dr. Murry brings a perspective on adversity that includes race, ethnicity, and poverty; a strong background in the role that parenting plays in addressing the needs of youth; and extensive experience in designing and implementing randomized control trials. Dr. Murry has served as Commissioner of the State of Georgia Children’s Trust Fund and as a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Board on Children, Youth, and Families and the Standing Committee on Family Planning and the Board of Directors of the Family Process Institute. She co-directed the African American Mental Health Research Scientist Consortium, in which over 100 early-career African American scholars were mentored to increase the numbers of competitive grant applications African American research scientists submit to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), to advance the overall participation level of African American mental health researchers in NIMH initiatives and programs, and to foster the development of high-quality, individual and collaborative mental health research on racial/ethnic minority populations. She was recently appointed to the USAID Evidence Research Team member of the Evidence Summit on Enhancing Child Survival and Development in Lower-and Middle Countries for Achieving Population-Level Behavior Change.  Dr. Murry edits articles, serves on the publication committees and editorial boards of several journals, and has published over 140 peer-reviewed articles.