I like October. The weather here in the Washington metropolitan area begins to cool down after what normally has been a warm and humid summer, the leaves turn colors that I never saw growing up in California, and many of our members (as well as staff) begin to move into their academic-year routines and schedules. It is a wonderful time to reflect and think about where we are, what we plan to do and how we imagine our future.
The ACA staff now numbers 61 with the filling of positions in public policy, marketing, information technology, professional learning and our new Center for Counseling Practice, Policy and Research. I have been here for a long time, and I am not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the most professional, highly trained and dedicated staff teams we have had in our history. I am constantly impressed with their commitment to ACA and the profession. In addition, the new ideas and improvements they come up with in terms of serving our members are really quite remarkable.
As noted, I have been here for many years and have seen the good, the bad and the proverbial ugly. ACA is a complex organization, and as we strive to meet the 21st-century needs of our members, we have been compelled to look at our growth and development. In fact, I have challenged the staff this year to continue in their own professional development. We asked each staff member to obtain at least four hours of professional development last year. During the current fiscal year, we are committing to 40 hours of professional development for each staff member. Why? Because we can be better in our jobs only when we continue to develop ourselves as association managers and staff.
When I noted my longevity with ACA, I should have been more specific. It was October 1984 when I first entered ACA headquarters as a new employee. In those days, I had more hair (less of it gray) and might even have been called “slim.” Time changes many things. What has not changed is my interest and desire to work with staff to do the best we can for the counseling profession because we know how important your work is to millions of students, families, couples and adults, each and every day.
Looking back at those early days in the mid-1980s, I remember being the new kid and coming up with various “new ideas.” Rather than shooting those ideas down, my boss who hired me, Frank Burtnett, engaged me in discussion and helped me to build our government relations program. I have tried to emulate Frank’s style by supporting a whole new group of young and enthusiastic staff members who bring terrific ideas forward. I guess the process is cyclical, just like the seasons.
Speaking of Frank, he has just completed his “third” phase of being part of the ACA family. He first joined the association in 1964 as a graduate student. He next moved into a staff position in 1971, rising to associate executive director before leaving in 1984. And for the past seven years, he has served as the editor of ACAeNews, building the project from one to five unique electronic publications for our members. Although he just retired from that role, we are looking forward to celebrating his 50th year of ACA membership in the not-too-distant future. My personal gratitude goes to Frank for his support through the years and for his dedication to ACA and the profession.