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About the Founder

The Institute administrator is Dr. Ione D. Vargus, Professor Emerita. Formerly the Acting Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at Temple University, she also served as the Dean and Associate Dean of the School of Social Administration for a total of seventeen years. She was Temple's first African American as well as first female academic Dean. Dr. Vargus serves as a volunteer to the organization.

A native of Medford, MA., Dr. Vargus received her bachelor's degree from Tufts University, her master's from the University of Chicago and her doctorate from the Heller School at Brandeis University. She began her professional work with families in 1954 and worked in a variety of non-profit settings until she entered the field of higher education in 1969. She also has a major interest in philanthropy.

Dr. Vargus began her research on African American family reunions in 1986. She traveled the east coast, north and south to attend family reunions where she interviewed families about the purposes and benefits of family reunions. She produced a radio documentary on family reunions for WRTI and, until recently, organized the conference on African American Family Reunions. She continues collecting information about families and their reunions. 

Dr. Vargus has published on a number of different topics and has been profiled and/or quoted in many local and national magazines and newspapers. She and members of the Community Advisory Board have also appeared on several television and radio programs. Dr. Vargus has completed a manuscript on the benefits and purposes of family reunion entitled Finding The Rest of Me: African American Family Reunions. This book shares the many experiences of families as they strengthen the extended family.

She is the mother of Suzanne Holloman who is the Dean of  Workforce Development and Continuing Education at Montgomery Community College in Blue Bell, PA  and Billy Vargus, an Emmy award winning sports anchor.  She has three granddaughters