June is one of my favorite months. Winter coats and gloves are stashed away, the pollen has usually come and gone, many of us are close to taking a vacation, and the fruits and vegetables at the farmers markets taste much better. What’s not to love about June? Well, here at the American Counseling Association, June is proverbially bittersweet for us because we must bid farewell to a number of outstanding volunteers and leaders whose terms conclude at the end of the month.
President Gerard Lawson led our association and the counseling profession this year. He came into office with several objectives and worked successfully with other outstanding leaders on the ACA Governing Council, as well as with region officers, division and branch presidents, and many dedicated volunteers, to accomplish a number of tasks. Our committees and task forces were kept busy carrying out the charges they were assigned. Looking back over the past 12 months, a great deal has been accomplished. To all of you who served in a volunteer role, I want to thank you for your efforts, your dedication and your work in advancing the counseling profession.
In thinking back to the ACA 2018 Conference & Expo held in Atlanta at the end of April, I was so impressed to note that more than 500 first-timers attended the event. Many of these first-timers were graduate students and new professionals with five or fewer years of experience. In addition, during the past year, our student membership surged beyond 20,000 individuals, which I see as a very good sign for both the association and the counseling profession. One of our goals at ACA is to continue meeting the needs of this new cadre of professional counselors regardless of practice setting.
At the same time, we want to make sure that we pay homage to those professional counselors and counselor educators who helped build our association, which began in 1952. At the ACA Conference in Atlanta, our 66th president, Gerard Lawson, asked those attending the opening keynote session to observe a moment of silence in memory of Robert Shaffer, who served as the first president of ACA (then known as the American Personnel and Guidance Association). Bob passed away in 2017 at the age of 101. During that moment of silence, I was reminded of the continuum we are on as an organization.
I wonder whether Bob Shaffer and his contemporaries ever envisioned how the profession and ACA would grow in the ensuing years. In fact, I wonder whether we can envision what ACA and the counseling profession will look like in another 66 years. What I do know is that members of the ACA Governing Council did an incredible amount of work on the new strategic plan that they adopted this spring. Many hours of effort went into this project, which will allow ACA to look at issues strategically and align our resources to successfully reach our goals.
We live in a consequential time in our history. Professional counselors have been instrumental at other consequential times. This suggests to me that during this period, you will be needed more than ever. I commend all of you who identify as counselors or counselor educators, and I express my appreciation for the work you do. And for those who have made the commitment to volunteer and serve in leadership for counseling organizations at the local, state, regional or national level, please know that you are valued and appreciated.