Warm congratulations to Dr. Maresa Murray, Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Health Science, who was recently granted Lifetime Membership in the Groves Conference on Marriage and Family – and only the ninth honoree to hold this title since the award inception in 1981.
“Dr. Murray's achievement is a source of inspiration and pride for her colleagues and students, and it highlights the exceptional quality of the faculty at the Department of Applied Health Science,” says Department Chair Dr. Eric Walsh-Buhi.
Dr. Murray has been involved with Groves since her graduate work at Michigan State University in the field of Family and Child Ecology. Dr. Murray worked under Dr. Harriette Pipes McAdoo, past President of the Groves Conference on Marriage and Family, and her husband John McAdoo, who are well-known as “the mother and father of resiliency research on African American families,” according to Dr. Murray.
While conducting undergraduate research, Dr. Murray was recruited onto Dr. McAdoo’s NIH-funded all-ethnic research team – the Ethnic Families’ Research project.
“The idea of this research team was that those who are ethnically matched with the subjects of those whom we were studying would get more reliable and more valid results,” says Dr. Murray. “It was a multi-million dollar longitudinal grant that was funded for several years, funding both of my masters and my doctorate degrees. We had to do research presentations all over the country that pulled from the primary data set that we collected from in-person interviews.”
Dr. Murray says as they presented the research findings from the raw data, Groves was one of the peer-reviewed organizations with whom she frequently interacted, highlighting work from the Ethnic Families’ Research project as a graduate student.
“While working on the research project, I was also doing my master’s work with Dr. McAdoo in Zimbabwe and I was researching Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) – funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – HIV and AIDS knowledge dissemination among Shona Women in Zimbabwe for Master’s thesis,” says Dr. Murray. “My second area of study for my doctoral thesis was on investigation of African American and Mexican American mothers of children with special needs, and whether or not they used religiosity as a buffering strategy against the potential stress of raising a child with special needs.”
After graduation, Dr. Murray held an administrative position as Associate Dean and, was quickly promoted after six months to Dean of General Education at Baker College in Michigan. She was then recruited to IU to join the Human Development and Family Studies faculty in the SPH-B. Throughout this time, she remained in contact with Dr. McAdoo, and it was in 2005 when Dr. Murray was presenting her work at the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) during their annual meeting in Phoenix, AZ that she was approached by Dr. McAdoo to consider running for leadership positions within Groves.
“Dr. McAdoo pulled me aside as a junior faculty member and I was employed at my job here at IU and she found it to be imperative that I would bring a new level of racial competency to the organization,” says Dr. Murray. “Groves was near and dear to her heart as the oldest family science organization in the country, but she determined that they could become more cutting edge, in terms of the amount of racial risks they were willing to take in terms of transforming family science.”
Dr. Murray says Dr. McAdoo wanted her to “infuse” them with her ability to integrate racial competency with family science, as well as her zeal, and was elected into several Groves positions, leading to her election as Groves President from 2018 to 2021. She makes it very clear that this honor of her status as Lifetime Member does not rely solely on her official positions, but rather the national pedagogical research impact she has brought to the organization through her graduate work, her investment as a young professional, and then the impact she was able to make in her capacity as president, infusing racial and social justice into family science.
Dr. Eric Walsh-Buhi notes, “Dr. Murray's achievement of being granted Lifetime Membership in the Groves Conference on Marriage and Family is a remarkable accomplishment. The fact that she is only the ninth honoree to receive this title since the award's inception in 1981 is a testament to her outstanding contributions to the field of marriage and family therapy. The Groves Conference on Marriage and Family is a prestigious organization that brings together professionals in the field to share research, knowledge, and expertise, and Dr. Murray's lifetime membership is a significant recognition of her expertise and influence.”
“I am honored that Groves chose to reward me for some of the more subversive leadership elements that I employed during my leadership time,” says Murray. “I am thankful for that because some organizations might have not embraced those kinds of innovative, cutting-edge and, quite frankly, confrontational types of elements that I was calling for, particularly when it comes to race. I was very glad that they were willing to reward that kind of courage that it takes to be one of the only racial minorities in a leadership capacity.”