Each year, I have the honor of working closely with the person elected to serve as ACA president. During my tenure with the association, I have shared a special 12 months with a number of these individuals. Each president is hardworking. Each is dedicated to making the counseling profession even better. And each brings his or her enthusiasm and knowledge to the job as ACA president.
During our year together, I get to know these individuals as both the official spokesperson and board chair of ACA. More interesting and meaningful to me is the opportunity to get to know them as people. Typically, before they take office, I have read about these individuals and am familiar with their contributions to the profession. Perhaps I have even interacted with them professionally on various projects. But during their year as president, I get to do a deeper dive that leaves me with a better understanding of their passion, motivation and commitment.
Shortly before the end of 2014, ACA was saddened to learn of the passing of past president Jane Myers (1990-1991). Her scholarly contributions to publications such as the Journal of Counseling & Development were both impactful and voluminous. Her output in terms of journal articles, book chapters and editing projects over the course of more than 30 years place her at the upper echelon of her peers. Jane was particularly committed to the topics of wellness and adult development in the counseling profession, although she had many other areas of interest. With her passing, our counseling constellation is not as bright as when she was in our orbit.
I will also remember Jane for her commitment to advocacy, not only for the profession but also for those who benefit from counseling. Although she was well known within the profession for her writing, her research and her mentoring, I was also fortunate to see her in action on Capitol Hill and with other public policy decision-makers. In my previous life as ACA’s director of government relations, we depended on conveying our message in a clear, concise manner to those outside of the counseling profession. We communicated this message to those whose decisions (and votes) could have a critical impact. Jane didn’t shy away from taking on the role of “advocate in chief” when she served as ACA president.
So, it wasn’t much of a surprise to me when, last summer, nearly 25 years after her ACA presidency, Jane was on the phone with me continuing in her role of advocate. In this case, it was as the executive director of Chi Sigma Iota (CSI), the counseling honor society. Jane saw the importance of having CSI members participating in the ACA Conference and wanted to ensure that we could provide them with the necessary space and support. Her encouragement and advocacy for those at all stages of the profession were still unwavering.
Jane Myers was the kind of president who helped make ACA the voice of professional counseling and the largest organization of its type in the world. You are part of that world. I hope we can all learn from our current colleagues as well as from those who made their mark and are no longer with us. Let’s honor Jane’s incredible contribution to the profession by recommitting ourselves to being even better advocates — both for the profession and for those who benefit from professional counseling.
I look forward to visiting with those of you who will be joining us in Orlando next month for the ACA Conference & Expo (beginning March 11 with preconference learning institutes and concluding March 15) and hearing about your role as advocates.
Editors note: Read more about Jane Myers in the “In Memoriam” piece on page 44 of the February issue of Counseling Today.