Each July, the American Counseling Association welcomes many new and returning volunteers to its ranks. As we begin a new program year, I am so pleased that ACA President Heather Trepal will be leading our Governing Council and serving as the profession’s primary spokesperson. Dr. Trepal has distinguished herself as a scholar, mentor and advocate. She will lead an extremely talented group of board members as we begin our second full year of operating under the new ACA strategic plan.
In addition to Dr. Trepal, leaders at the region, division and branch levels of our organization are ready to begin a yearlong effort to meet the objectives set out in the board’s plan to move the profession forward in support of those whom counselors serve. I congratulate all those who are serving this year. The staff looks forward to the many contributions that you will make to ACA and the profession.
In addition to expressing my appreciation for the hundreds of volunteers who donate thousands of hours to ACA’s mission each year, I want to take a moment to thank the ACA staff. Many of them work way behind the scenes to make sure that our 54,000 members receive the benefits, resources and services they need to be the best professional counselors possible. I believe that today’s ACA staff is among the most talented groups currently working in membership associations. Our staff is diverse, they come from both the for-profit and the not-for-profit sectors, and they are constantly impressing me with their creativity in support of ACA members.
This year, you will see even more of the ideas and projects conceptualized by our volunteer board leadership and brought to life by our amazingly talented staff. As I have written previously, the traditional membership organization that simply assumed that people would join and pay their dues is being replaced — transformed if you will — by a 21st-century membership organization that seeks to engage with others, not just require someone to join.
Each and every day, the staff and I look at ways to let you know that your membership dollars are being spent wisely in support of the association’s mission. We seek to innovate, not just conduct “business as usual.” Why? Because you demand more and you deserve more.
Signs that we are appealing to more than the traditional rank-and-file member can be seen in various ways. For example, nearly half of the attendees at the record-setting ACA 2019 Conference & Expo in New Orleans were “first-timers.” This says a lot about ACA, and it says a great deal about those of you who have encouraged colleagues to attend.
So, now, I’m going to ask you to do one more thing for ACA this year. Given that strength in numbers is more than just a slogan, I am asking each member of ACA to do what they can in the next 12 months to bring in one new member to our association. If we want to ensure the federal government knows that professional counselors are qualified to practice independently with Medicare beneficiaries, if we want to make sure that when teachers demand better wages and working conditions in our nation’s public schools that school boards also include more professional school counselors, if we want licensed professional counselors to have the ability to move seamlessly between states and to practice without jumping through bureaucratic and discriminatory policies — then we need more members.
I think ACA does a terrific job of reminding existing members to renew. So, what I am asking you to do is to bring in a professional counselor, counselor educator or graduate student who has never been a member of ACA and introduce them to all we have to offer — professional development, public policy advocacy, ethics consultations, career services, the best professional liability insurance and a place to network with colleagues. Direct your colleagues to counseling.org/membership/join-reinstate. I thank you in advance for the amazing work you will do in the coming year.