2024 Annual Fatherhood Forum: Fathering During Challenging Times

Friday, April 5, 2024 | 8:00am-12:00pm | Hannah Community Center, East Lansing, MI

The Fatherhood Forum is a FREE annual collaborative event sponsored by MSUFCU and hosted by the WorkLife Office, Student Parent Resource Center, and the Employee Assistance Program.

The Fatherhood Forum is for fathers who want to enhance their greatness as parents, their loved ones and supporters. Enjoy breakout sessions exploring fatherhood, child development, healthy parenting, self-care and more.

Who should attend? Fathers, father figures, and caregivers of all ages and experiences, mothers, expectant parents, guardians, MSU faculty, staff and students, professionals, community partners, educators, community members and anyone interested in parenting.

  • 8:00am-8:30am – Doors Open & Continental Breakfast
  • 8:30am-9:00am – Keynote Speaker
  • 9:10am-9:55am – Breakout Session (Choice of 3 Topics Described Below)
  • 10:00am-11:00pm – Small Group Discussion
  • 11:10am-11:45am – Conclusion
  • 11:45am-12:00pm – Open for Networking

Speaker: Dr. Christopher Lewis, Co-Founder, Fathering Together

Keynote Description: Fatherhood is an intricate journey, enriched by the connections and networks that surround it. As fathers, we must explore how communities, whether familial, social, or virtual, offer invaluable resources, guidance, and solidarity to fathers. From sharing experiences and advice to fostering emotional support and camaraderie, community plays a pivotal role in empowering fathers to navigate the joys and challenges of parenthood. Join us as we celebrate the transformative power of community in nurturing strong, resilient, and engaged fathers, and in turn, building healthier families and societies. Dr. Chris Lewis, Co-Founder of Fathering Together, will share insights from his experience in building the largest virtual dad community on Facebook.

Speaker: Gabriel Hales, M.A., Doctoral Candidate in Media and Information at Michigan State University & Dr. Keith Hampton, Professor, Department of Media and Information, Michigan State University

Description: What we hear from the news media about the harms of social media, video games, and the Internet can make parents panic about their child’s use of these technologies. This presentation focuses on parenting strategies and how these technologies are connected to outcomes related to time spent with friends and family, self-esteem, and academic performance.

Speaker: Garrett McCallister, Prevention Education Manager, MSU Prevention, Outreach, and Education

Description: Parenting comes with many challenges, opportunities for change, and personal growth. How can we as individuals look at our attitudes, beliefs, and actions around masculinity to help build up the next generation to have a healthier, happier, and healed perspective on masculinity? In this session we will explore the aspects of masculinity, unpack, and reframe the ideals we hold to improve the way we parent our children.

Speaker: Dr. Megan Maas, Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, Michigan State University


In today’s digital landscape, kids and teens are bombarded with sexually explicit content. This new reality has underscored the need to talk about healthy sexuality and relationships at earlier ages. The overwhelming majority of parents are not talking with their children about relationships, let alone sex or pornography. For those who are having these discussions, moms are usually taking the lead. Research shows that fathers can have particularly powerful positive impact on their kids when they engage in these conversations too. In this session Dr. Maas will be joined by her husband as they discuss how to talk to kids about these topics and overcoming their own embarrassment while doing so with their children.


2024 Fatherhood Forum Photo Contest!

Do you love taking cool photos with your kids? Why not show them off? Submit a touching or heartfelt photo of you with your kids to the Fatherhood Forum Photo Contest for a chance to win a prize! Registrants must attend the 2024 Fatherhood Forum to win. Winners will be determined based on the photo that best captures the theme of this year’s Fatherhood Forum – Fathering During Challenging Times.

Photos will be voted on by the participants at the Fatherhood Forum and the winner will be announced at the Forum on April 5, 2024. The submission must be a good quality photo in a JPEG format. Photos may be enhanced using photo filters and apps.

Submission Due Date: 11:59pm on Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

By submitting photos to this contest, artists grant permission to reproduce their work for print and electronic media promotion during the conference and for future conferences or media use. There is no charge for entering the competition.

Keynote Speaker Information: Dr. Christopher Lewis, Co-Founder, Fathering Together

Dr. Chris Lewis is a father of two girls who strives every day to regain control of his kingdom. He has faced many challenges as a dad and is dedicated to sharing his experiences and providing valuable insights to other fathers. Chris has over 25 years of experience in college administration and student affairs and in his professional life, he’s the Director of Graduate Programs at the University of Michigan-Flint. He has extensive expertise in pre-college planning, admission, advising, and other areas, which has helped him both as a father and in his writing. Aside from his work in college administration, Chris is also involved in Digital Media. He is passionate about podcasting and writing and has been honing his skills by reading and networking with other writers.

Breakout Session A Speaker: Dr. Keith Hampton, Professor, Department of Media & Information

Keith N. Hampton, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Media and Information, and Director of Academic Research at the Quello Center for Telecommunication Management and Law at Michigan State University (MSU). Hampton studies community and the relationship between digital media, social networks, and inequality. His recent research has focused on the outcomes of persistent contact and pervasive awareness through social media, including stress, self-esteem, tolerance, belief in a just world, exposure to diverse points of view, and willingness to voice opinions. He is currently leading a longitudinal study of the relationship between digital inequality amongst rural adolescents, the COVID-19 pandemic, and academic achievement. Past work includes studies of neighboring, public spaces, democratic engagement, and the urban environment. He has offered graduate- and undergraduate- level courses in social network analysis, communication and technology, and research methods.

Breakout Session A Speaker: Gabriel Hales, M.A., Doctoral Candidate in Media and Information at Michigan State University

Gabriel (he/him) is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Media and Information at MSU. He works closely with Keith Hampton, Ph.D. as a research assistant for the Quello Center, and has taught numerous undergraduate courses within the department. Gabe’s research focuses on the relationships between students’ academic achievement/social networks and their access, use, and navigation skills related to digital technologies. Primarily, his studies are framed within the field of digital inequalities and how they may interact with or limit student outcomes. He specializes in advanced statistical analyses while also having experience in qualitative methods like ethnography and in-depth interviewing. He has presented co-authored works in the NCA, ICA, and ASA, and has numerous papers and reports published, under review, and in progress with peer-reviewed journals. Prior to his current degree, Gabe completed his Master of Arts (2021) and Bachelor of Arts (2020) in Media and Information at Michigan State University. If not working on ongoing research projects, he enjoys marathon running, listening to podcasts (mostly while running), and spending time outside with his dog.

Breakout Session B Speaker: Garrett McAlister, Prevention Education Manager, MSU Prevention, Outreach, and Engagement

Garrett J. McAlister (he/him) oversees men’s engagement and masculinity programming for Prevention, Outreach, and Education. His role includes co-coordinating the Greeks Take the Lead (GTTL) program for Fraternity & Sorority Life organizations, developing the Spartans Against Violence program for men’s athletics, and creating engagement opportunities for men, male, and masculine identified individuals at MSU.   

Garrett earned a Master of Science in Education degree from Illinois State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of Illinois, Springfield.  Garrett has a background in residence education, student conflict and resolution, as well as working with university initiatives regarding the retention of men of color. In his work, Garrett places an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion. He is passionate about engaging in conversations and education regarding healthy masculinity and the various ways in which masculinity is intersectional.

Breakout Session C Speaker: Dr. Megan Maas, Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, Michigan State University

Megan Maas, PhD, is an assistant professor in Human Development & Family Studies at Michigan State University. She received her PhD from The Pennsylvania State University as a pre-doctoral fellow funded by the National Institutes of Health. Her award-winning research, recognized by the American Psychological Association, focuses on adolescent sexual development. Specifically, she investigates how experiences of social media, sexting, and online pornography play a bi-directional role in the development of attitudes and behavior related to sexuality and gender. As a former health educator (turned academic), she has trained thousands of teachers, social workers, and school counselors on pornography use among teens for over 13 years. Her goal is to prevent sexual violence and promote sexual health among adolescents and emerging adults. In addition to publishing in academic journals, she also publishes her work in mass media outlets such as HuffPost, CNN, and Salon.