Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, Ph.D., is a professor in Purdue University’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies and director of MFRI and the Center for Families. Her research focuses on relationships between job conditions and family life, especially with regard to military families and organizational policies, programs and practices and has been published in scientific journals such as the Journal of Marriage and Family and the Academy of Management Journal.
MacDermid Wadsworth’s work has been funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Henry A. Murray Center, the Department of Defense, the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, the state of Indiana, and Lilly Endowment Inc. Read more about MacDermid Wadsworth >>
Martina Sternberg, Ph.D., serves as the assistant director of MFRI, handling the internal administrative functions of the organization. In her role as the community outreach director, Sternberg is responsible for MFRI’s community initiatives, which support community infrastructure and capacity as they work to improve the systems surrounding military families.
Sternberg holds two associates degrees in human resources and health management from the Community College of the Air Force. She has a bachelor’s degree in social psychology from Park University, a master’s degree in counseling from Northern Arizona University and a doctorate in counselor education and supervision from the University of Texas at San Antonio. A 20-year Air Force veteran, Sternberg is the mother of a combat veteran.
Dave Topp, Ph.D., has served as the research director for MFRI since 2009 where he has overseen a number of projects including the evaluation of programs and materials for Sesame Workshop and ZERO to THREE. Topp has also conducted research studies for agencies like the Department of Defense, most recently completing an effort focused on the impact of multiple deployments for young children in military families.
Prior to joining MFRI, Topp owned a Kansas-based consulting firm that worked extensively with state and county governments developing service delivery systems for children with emotional and behavioral problems. With his commitment to using data to inform effective service delivery, he developed an expertise in data capture technologies to equip administrators with objective information about the programs they manage.
Later, he brought this expertise to the academy, working for University of Kansas Center for Research and the Life Span Institute. Born and raised in southwestern Michigan, Topp earned his master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan and his doctorate from the University of Kansas.
Kathy Broniarczyk oversees MFRI’s family support team. The team focuses on providing resources to children and families of service members, community organizations and community professionals who offer care for service members and their families.
Prior to joining MFRI, Broniarczyk served a large population of deployed service members as center director for the Department of Army Child and Youth Services. She has worked with many military families for over 15 years and is also a military spouse.
Broniarczyk received her bachelor’s degree in child and family sciences from the University of Wisconsin and her master’s degree in early childhood education from Boston University. She has worked with children and families her entire professional career. Broniarczyk has been a public school teacher, an early childhood trainer for childcare providers, childcare center administrator and preschool teacher. She has also worked with pre-service early childhood teachers and taught undergraduate early childhood courses.
Beth Johnson currently serves as the director of external relations for MFRI where she oversees a variety of projects including public relations, community relations, strategic communication, events and government affairs.
Prior to joining MFRI, Johnson held public relations and communications positions with the Marine Corps Marathon, George Mason University and Salsa Labs, Inc. She received her bachelor’s degree in communication from Auburn University and holds her master’s degree in communication from George Mason University.
Johnson’s military connections include her husband (former Marine Captain and OEF veteran), brother (former Army Captain and OIF veteran) and father (former Coast Guard officer).
Lauren Runco is the Director of Education and Employment at the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University. Lauren holds a bachelor's degree in international relations from the University of Scranton and a master's in higher education administration from Marywood University. Previously she served as the Director of Military and Veteran Services at Marywood University, as well as the VA Certifying Official and the SVA Chapter Advisor on its Scranton, Pennsylvania campus. She also draws from her personal experience as a military family member who understands firsthand the challenges that service members face as they enter higher education institutions and workplaces.
Lauren Runco has served as the NASPA Region II Representative of the Veterans Knowledge Community and in March 2015 was named the chair-elect of the Veterans Knowledge Community. She has received a number of honors, including the Department of the Army Commander's Award for Public Service, and the "Supra et Extra" award from the NASPA Veterans Knowledge Community. Her work with NASPA will allow MFRI to continue to strengthen our relationships with allies and advocates to provide greater resources for our student service members, veterans and their families and to influence institutions of higher education to use proven models of success to better serve this population.