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Kelly Maxwell Haer Named Executive Director of the Boone Center for the Family at Pepperdine University



Kelly Maxwell Haer has been appointed to the position of executive director of the Boone Center for the Family at Pepperdine University. Haer is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has served as the Relationship IQ program director at the Boone Center since 2017.

“I am honored and delighted to take on the role of executive director for the Boone Center for the Family,” said Haer. “The Boone Center’s mission—to strengthen and promote healthy relationships as we honor God’s essential foundation, the family—is increasingly vital to community and personal well-being in the midst of today’s challenges. I look forward to working with the Boone Center team and the broader Pepperdine family to expand our current, evergreen programming while also creating resources relevant to this cultural moment.”

At the intersection of faith and psychology, the Boone Center offers programming that educates, equips, and empowers leaders with the tools necessary to foster healthy relationships. It was established in 1996 through the inspiration and foundation of former Pepperdine president M. Norvel Young and his wife, Helen, and endowed by Pat and Shirley Boone in 2006. Today the Boone Center offers specialized seminars that deliver practical skills and provide support resources to diverse audiences, from couples looking to strengthen their marriages, to young adults exploring ways to nurture their interpersonal relationships, to church leaders discovering new ways to support spiritual formation in their faith communities.

Haer succeeds Sharon Hargrave, a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in couples, families, and intergenerational issues, who has served as the Boone Center’s executive director since 2012. Hargrave, along with her husband, Terry, speaks nationally and internationally on marriage, forgiveness, and family dynamics and is also the founder and director of RelateStrong, a program designed to help couples and individuals prepare their relationships for life and leadership. RelateStrong will remain an integral part of the Boone Center’s programming.

"I'm thrilled that Kelly Haer will be the next executive director of Pepperdine's Boone Center for the Family," said Tim Perrin, senior vice president for strategic implementation. "Kelly brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this role as well as a deep commitment to the vital mission of the Boone Center. I look forward to Kelly's leadership as she builds on the center's already strong foundation."

Prior to joining the Boone Center, Haer taught as a visiting assistant professor of psychology at Pepperdine's Seaver College. Before moving to the West Coast, she served as a licensed professional counselor at Agape Christian Counseling Services where for seven years she offered affordable, professional Christian counseling for the St. Louis metro area and its surrounding counties. She has also served as associate director of admissions at Covenant Theological Seminary. 

Haer is a researcher and speaker on the emotional experience of never-married single women. She has presented at local, state, national, and international conferences on singleness, long-distance dating relationships, eating disorders, and couples' use of communication technologies after infidelity. As a licensed marriage and family therapist, she specializes in women struggling with eating disorders and adults wrestling with undesired singleness.

Through researching, developing, and implementing materials that make the intersection of psychological science and theology relevant to daily life, Haer’s career and scholarship have centered on helping young adults form healthy relationships. Her passions include creating space for young adults to process relational concerns, training leaders to connect with young adults, and equipping the church to support young adults' relational needs. Among her speaking topics, Haer focuses on equipping young adults for relational success in regard to dating, friendships, boundaries, relational styles, communication and conflict, relationship with family, and relationship with God; supporting singles as they cope with ambiguous loss; and guiding parents and teens through understanding eating disorders from a faith-based perspective.

Haer earned a BS in nutrition from Furman University, an MA in counseling from Covenant Theological Seminary, and a PhD in family therapy from Saint Louis University.


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