As someone who has worked for the American Counseling Association for more than 20 years, you might think that I have seen it all and heard it all. But truth be known, I have been in learning mode the entire time I have served the association, first in the area of public policy and then as your executive director. Sure, some ideas that may not be “new” per se seem to come up every few years, but because society and the profession continue to change, an idea that was discounted in the 1990s might be worth reconsidering today.
I learn from our staff, our members and our leadership. All of you constantly amaze me with your ideas, your creativity and your suggestions that enhance our role as the world’s largest organization serving professional counselors. I think maintaining an open mind to such ideas and suggestions is what has led ACA to its premier position among the helping professions. With what has been rolled out to members over the past few years, and what we have planned for you as we begin our seventh decade of service, I am confident we can maintain our momentum in supporting and advocating for the counseling profession.
In terms of learning from those with whom I work, I referenced this at the Opening Keynote session of the ACA Annual Conference & Expo in March. In introducing our president, Marcheta Evans, I mentioned the previous day’s Giving Back to the Community event, during which more than 100 counselors spread out to lend their hands, and their compassion, to the citizens of New Orleans. I then gave credit to the person on whose vision the event was based when I said, “This project was an idea that started with the woman I am about to introduce. She is part visionary, part educator, part counselor. But what I have come to know is that for all the various roles she takes on, Marcheta Evans is 100 percent committed to whatever she devotes herself to.”
I went on to say, “I have learned from Marcheta this year. I’ve learned more about diversity, about trying to listen to all sides of an issue and about taking the time for those who are in need of that time. Marcheta has this energy that she just shares with those around her. It isn’t the kind of energy that leaves those in her wake fatigued. Rather, it is an energy that makes you know that listening, being compassionate and moving together toward a common goal really does result in an even better outcome than what may have been envisioned.”
Most of you who know me are aware that I don’t make remarks like this unless I truly believe what I am saying. It was yet another example that despite my having worked for 23 different ACA presidents, I am still learning. Each ACA president has been unique, which means I have benefited from learning something new every single year.
I encourage all of you to take a moment and think about someone who has opened your eyes this past year. It might have been a colleague, a student, a child or even a furry four-legged friend. I would love for you to e-mail me your story about someone from whom you have learned. I can’t say it will appear in Counseling Today, but I do think that sharing the experience helps to make it even more special. In some ways, it is like acknowledging the impact that individual had on you this year.
Speaking of thanking people, as the program and fiscal year comes to a close for ACA at the end of June, we will bid farewell to an outstanding group of leaders who have served the association at the national level. We will also see the conclusion of terms for many leaders at the division, region, branch, committee and task force levels. To all of you, I am very appreciative of your efforts. The profession is grateful for your service.
Please know that many good things took place on your watch. Although you might have hoped that even more would be completed, remember that you have planted seeds of ideas and projects that will germinate and flourish in the years to come.
As always, I hope you will contact me with any comments, questions or suggestions that you might have.
Please contact me via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800.347.6647 ext. 231.
Thanks and be well.