As we head into summer, we’re also nearing the conclusion of ACA’s fiscal and program year. We can certainly look back over the past 12 months and justify the need for professional counseling. Society has witnessed some amazing (and some not-so-great) moments. The changes we have witnessed in local communities, nationally and around the world suggest that the work of professional counselors, counselor educators and graduate students preparing for counseling careers will continue to be in high demand.
Here at ACA, we also experienced quite the year. Our membership numbers remained strong, our resources were in demand and we worked to increase the public’s understanding of the key roles that professional counselors play. Of course, we endeavor toward these efforts every year, so I’d also like to share a few things that made this year unique.
Many of you know that Tennessee enacted a law that basically allowed professional counselors to violate the ACA Code of Ethics by denying services to individuals. Because of this action by the state’s Legislature and governor, ACA’s Governing Council voted to relocate our 2017 annual conference from Nashville to San Francisco. This was a bold and courageous move by our board — something that had never before been undertaken during our association’s 65-year history. I am glad to report that the ACA Conference & Expo in San Francisco was a huge success, attracting the largest attendance we have had in several years. For those of you who made the effort to be with us at that event, I thank you.
Under the leadership of our president, Catherine Roland, we also began the planning to carry out her vision for a multiday counseling symposium called Illuminate. This event, being held June 8-10, will focus on LGBTQ issues across the life span. The staff and I were overwhelmed by the response when registration opened a few months ago, and I am pleased to note that the event sold out — another “first” for ACA.
Catherine has been tireless (literally) in her travels this year to spread the good word of professional counseling. Her commitment to focusing on those who have been marginalized and discriminated against, together with her passion for nurturing tomorrow’s counselors, has been something for which we should all be appreciative.
I also want to acknowledge the many volunteer leaders who have served on Governing Council, on our committees and on the targeted task groups, as well as those who agreed to dedicate their time to the work of our regions, divisions and branches. As a whole, there were thousands of volunteers at all levels this year who said “yes” when asked to serve. The profession owes all of you a debt of gratitude for your efforts.
Moving on, I also need to thank the ACA staff. This year has been challenging in a number of ways, and each time they were asked to pitch in or to give “just a bit more,” they willingly took on the assignments or projects they were called on to lead, manage or serve on. I can’t say it enough: I am blessed with one of the best association staffs in the country.
Finally, as we begin to close out the program year, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank those of you who proudly call yourselves ACA members. You have so many options in terms of how you can spend your hard-earned dollars. Your willingness to be members of ACA, to attend our conferences, to participate in our webinars and to purchase resources from us is most appreciated. We will continue to look at ways to constantly improve in what we produce, in how we advocate and in how we let the media, policymakers and the public know about the amazing work that you and your counseling colleagues do each and every day.