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Weber State University WSU Division of Online &Continuing Education

About the Families Alive Conference

Our goal is to to dispel the pervasive myth that all families are dysfunctional and instead champion the successes of everyday families.


In 1948, under Melba S. Lehner’s leadership, the Department of Child and Family Studies indicated an intense interest and commitment to education for a healthy marriage, family living and parenting. In a co-partnership with the Utah State Department of Education and the Ogden City Schools, a Family Life Institute began, with a two-day conference being the main focus. This conference addressed current issues facing families of the time.

The Family Life Institute held conferences in 1948, 1950 and 1954, but the conference was not held again for a few years. In the mean time, national news magazines, professional journals and popular media told the world that the American family was in a state of decline and deterioration. Social problems were evident in all levels of society, and were assumed to be the reason for the breakdown of the family.

The Child and Family Studies faculty met in the spring and the fall of 1980 to discuss and set goals for the department, and at the same time plans were made to revise and upgrade the past Family Life Conference.

The Families Alive Conference in its current format, originated in 1980 with the Child & Family Studies faculty at Weber State University. The original, and continuing, goal of the conference is to dispel the pervasive myth that all families are dysfunctional and instead champion the successes of everyday families. The faculty wanted to share positive information and attitudes about the current American family with students, colleagues, and the community.

The department continues to offer this important conference on a biannual basis. Through the contributions of various agencies, institutions, and foundations throughout the intermountain area, the Families Alive Conference has been a rewarding experience to thousands of individuals, and has benefited families in innumerable ways.

Through the donation of numerous student and faculty volunteer hours and generous financial gifts from the Junior E. and Blanche B. Rich Foundation and Annie Clark Tanner Endowment, the department has been able to sponsor nationally and locally recognized family experts to present at the conferences. These professionals have included Dr. Carlfred Broderick, Dr. James Lynch, Dr. Stephen Glenn, Dr. David Elkind, Dr. Burton White, Dr. Alvin Poussaint, Dr. Bettye Caldwell, Dr. Norris Haynes, Richard Louve, Maya Angelou, Guadalupe Lara, Henry Winkler, Alfie Kohn, Dr. Peppuschwart, Thurl Bailey and Jane Clayson Johnson.