Happy New Year! At ACA, we begin our program year July 1. That means many new volunteers are beginning their work, projects are being launched and we are welcoming a new president. It is also nice to look back over the past 12 months to take stock of all that was accomplished on behalf of the counseling profession.
We concluded June with an amazing (and first-ever) Illuminate conference that explored counseling LGBTQ clients across the adult life span. This conference was sold out several weeks before we launched, and the networking, education sessions and resources exchanged during the event will certainly benefit many clients, students and professionals for years to come. I think that Illuminate certainly fulfilled the vision of our immediate past president, Catherine Roland, who came up with the idea that led to this event and its companion guide of information-packed resources.
As noted, we now welcome Catherine’s successor, Gerard Lawson, as our 66th president. I have had the opportunity to work with Gerard in his role as a division leader, task force member and representative on the ACA Governing Council. I know that he will continue the excellence in leadership that ACA members have come to expect from their president. The staff and I wish Gerard all the best as he begins his term.
We also want ACA members to know that despite the prior 12 months of successes, we have so much more planned for the coming year. We have listened to what our members say is important to practicing counselors, counselor educators, supervisors and graduate students. As a result, we will be rolling out a variety of high-quality professional development resources and information. You will have access to printed materials, online resources and a broad array of new webinars to keep you up to date in your practice while you earn valuable CE credits.
In addition, you have indicated that you want us to continue advocating for the profession with public policymakers at the state and national levels, as well as with decision-makers in the area of managed care. To address those desires, we have doubled our Government Affairs staff over the past few years and also added outside legislative counsel. Given the current political climate, it is clear that ACA must advocate for and develop its grass-roots activity to an even higher level — and that is where we hope you will participate. Our Government Affairs blog includes regular updates, and I was pleased to see that we had thousands of messages sent to elected officials last year by ACA members who understand that some public policy decisions have the potential to decimate services for clients and students. I encourage you to get involved by visiting the ACA Government Affairs page on our website at counseling.org/government-affairs/public-policy.
Looking ahead, the great profession of counseling is faced with both opportunities and challenges. The staff and I pledge to work to ensure even more opportunities for professional counselors, while doing what we can to ward off the challenges inflicted by those outside of the profession. ACA is committed to supporting and enhancing the counseling profession. But we will be able to do this only with your input and suggestions. We need you to let us know when we do something right and when we miss the mark. One of my goals for the coming year is that on June 30, 2018, you will feel that ACA “had your back” as you look back over the preceding 12 months.