In optometry, people hope for 20/20 vision. Roughly 15 years ago, ACA embarked on the seminal initiative 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling. Well, here we are at the halfway point of 2020, and I feel like our vision for what lies ahead is cloudy. I never imagined that we would be living through such an unfortunate and tragic situation. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on many aspects of our lives.
I am convinced, however, that when unfortunate things happen, some of the most amazing acts of kindness, care and compassion come to the forefront. It’s nature’s way of letting us know there is good in the world. Professional counselors have taken some incredible personal risks to help their colleagues, clients, students and communities. I honor you for the choices you have made.
During my 30 years with ACA, I have seen staff and volunteer leaders step up during times of crisis. Extraordinary people rise up when we need them most. We have had 68 presidents of ACA, but none ever faced what President Heather Trepal did this year. Seven months into her presidency, the coronavirus began to take hold in the U.S. Eight months in, she had to gavel the Governing Council into a special session in which its members made the courageous decision to cancel the 2020 ACA Conference. Now, as she completes her year as our president, my hope is that she recognizes how important her leadership has been for ACA and the profession.
Clearly, this was not the presidency that Heather envisioned. Nevertheless, she rose to the occasion and transitioned into being our first “Zoom” president. She didn’t hesitate as she moved forward with guiding our volunteer core of leaders, committees and task forces, while at the same time building relationships with counseling colleagues and other professional organizations. She was constantly looking at what we could do to help graduate students who were left without enough practice hours to graduate and to support members in developing their skill sets in telebehavioral health.
I’m sure there were some disappointments regarding what she didn’t get to do, but my hunch is that Heather understood she needed to rise to answer an even more important call during her time as our president. We all owe her a great deal of thanks for her year of service.
I also want to acknowledge the 60 individuals who make up the ACA staff. Despite having to work from home since March 12, none of them has missed a beat. Their diligence and commitment to their jobs as part of Team ACA has been commendable. I am also impressed with how they continue to support one another, both on a professional level and as fellow human beings. I am very lucky to work with such a great crew.
As we close out ACA’s fiscal year at the end of this month, it also means we will see a transition of volunteers who have served at the branch, region, division and national levels. Although I would love to thank each of you personally, I’m not sure that Counseling Today Editor-in-Chief Jonathan Rollins would be too pleased with the several additional pages I would need. So, to each of you who served in a leadership or volunteer capacity, please know how grateful I am for your time and commitment.