When I was young and my mother was making dinner, at some point I would hear her say, “Dinner is almost ready. Would you please set the table?” Many of you reading this probably heard something similar in your homes when you were growing up.
Years later, when my son was playing baseball and he came up to bat, I would occasionally say, “OK, Dylan, table is set.” This of course referred to having runners on base and his being in a position to move those players forward.
Today, I want to share my thoughts about another table that has been set. In this case, the table is set for you, the members of the American Counseling Association. During the past few years, and under the guidance of the ACA Governing Council, your professional association has slowly but surely been reviewing, rebuilding and restructuring its products and services to make them more valuable and relevant to today’s counseling professionals and graduate students. We have done this in light of changing societal issues that you face as professionals. We also embarked on this multiyear change fully aware that if we didn’t make constant improvements designed with you in mind, ACA would no longer be able to help move the profession forward.
As the association begins celebrating its 60th anniversary, “resting on our laurels” doesn’t do anything to provide you with the products, networking and career services that today’s — and tomorrow’s — professionals will need. Some of you have communicated directly with me about what you want from ACA. Others of you have participated in our surveying and focus groups, imparting wisdom and offering suggestions concerning your ACA membership. Then there are those of you who have sent suggestions to ACA via the Web Idea Bank found on our website at counseling.org/webideabank/. Regardless of what form of communication you have used to share your thoughts, I appreciate your time in letting us know. We really do take your suggestions seriously, and we work as a leadership/staff team to determine what we can accomplish to meet your professional needs.
Your suggestions and our ability to tend to your needs can be measured by yet another milestone for the association. In January, ACA surpassed 45,000 members — something we have not seen in many, many years. In addition, voting in the recent ACA election resulted in our largest turnout in more than five years. And the ACA Annual Conference & Exposition in New Orleans, taking place March 23-27, will see us exceed $1 million in conference registrations and welcome more than 4,000 attendees, setting another modern-day record for our organization.
We continue to put more services and products online so you can take care of things from wherever you might live or work. Proof of professional liability insurance, continuing education certificates and many other resources are now available through counseling.org. To make sure we can handle all of this digital traffic, the ACA Governing Council approved a plan we put forward this past year to upgrade our technology infrastructure. We want to continue to deliver information to our most valuable asset — our members. Most of this transition will be completed by June of this year.
What’s next? Well, as I noted above, we have “set the table” with you in mind. But we now need you to come in, explore and then let us know what else we can do to help you meet the professional challenges that you face. We are your professional partner, and we are here to serve. So please contact me with any comments, questions or suggestions that you might have via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800.347.6647 ext. 231.
Thanks and be well.