Counseling Today, From the President

I greet you in the spirit of ’harambee’

Marie Wakefield May 11, 2006

The Swahili word “harambee” can be defined as the act of coming together relationally and uniting as a community to accomplish a common goal. Another interpretation is “let’s get together and push.” The concept is something that is very simplistic yet metaphorically symbolic.

I am honored to be serving as your American Counseling Association president this year, and over the next 12 months I encourage you to join me in looking at our roles, responsibilities and commitment to the mission of the association as we work to move the counseling profession forward.

Together, we can accomplish a great deal. ACA is the vehicle that has brought so many of us together over the years. Our rich history in advocating for the profession and those whom we serve is something for which we should all be very proud.

If we are to build off past successes as we look toward advancing the profession, we will do so only by engaging a committed, collective team of members, volunteers, leaders and staff. As an active participant in the leadership of ACA for more than 20 years, I clearly value the connections and relationships I have formed during this period. I am honored to have the opportunity to give back this year and to work toward creating new legacies for ACA.

During the next 12 months, we will look at the needs of professional counselors, counselor educators and graduate students. We will conduct leadership training, provide resources and engage professionals across the life span, regardless of practice setting or career phase.

During my more than 30 years working in counseling, education and administration, I have found that working as a team provides a richer and more beneficial result than going it alone. I am a strong advocate of the team process. The committees, task forces, branches, divisions, regions, interest networks and governance of ACA demonstrate the characteristics of teams. As your president, I will connect with leadership, members and other organizations from the perspective of working interactively and interdependently.

From the grass roots to the international stage, we are in the business of training, educating, mentoring, modeling, researching and advocating for the profession and the association. To be successful now and into the future, we must encourage the development and participation of graduate students and emerging leaders. We must do what we can to include new professionals in our “circle.”

ACA represents many things to many people, so it is critical that our “look” — the ACA logo, for example — is consistent with who we are. Could it be that an organization’s logo is merely an ornament that adorns stationary, conference bags, brochures and other forms of memorabilia? I don’t think so. Rather, our logo was designed to build and reinforce our professional identity. This symbol represents who we are, what we do and how we foster and support action by a community of professionals.

The logo provides a reminder that we, as a professional organization, are interconnected in many areas that enhance the quality of life. The circular design of our logo represents not only our present and our future but also our rich historical legacy. Each segment of the circle reflects inclusiveness, diversity and the interchange of interests and expertise — quite simply, our strength as a community.

That strength is evident in the work of the ACA leadership, which resulted in adopting strategic priorities for the association’s future direction, and in the dedication of our colleagues who brought forth a new ACA Code of Ethics last year, a well-written document that will guide our practice as professionals.

Additional examples of our strength as a community can be seen in those ACA leaders and members whose work on issues extends far beyond our 44,000 members. One need only look at the hundreds of counselors who responded unselfishly to meet the overwhelming needs of those victimized by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

So when you see the ACA logo, let it be a reminder of our invaluable connection to other professionals in the organization. Never forget that committed people can change a community. Never forget that committed people can change a society. We each have a responsibility to empower professionals to transform values into action, visions into realities, obstacles into opportunities and separateness into collaborations. I look forward to the work entrusted to me to advance our organization. Feel free to communicate with me via e-mail at mawakefield@cox.net or via phone at 800.347.6647 ext. 232.