“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
— Helen Keller
Being out of the limelight and communicating behind closed doors is how I developed trust and built relationships with my clients in counseling sessions. So, how did I become a business owner, learn to lead and become the 69th president of the largest counseling association in the world?
Blazing a trail as a career counseling practitioner in business and leading change in both large and small organizations has not been without challenge for me. It has required self-awareness, a willingness to work with people from diverse backgrounds, tenacity, an understanding of my life’s purpose, and a guiding mission and vision.
My life’s purpose, as is true for many of you, revolves around helping others. As a career counselor, it is only natural for me to help my clients realize their purpose and articulate their visions. I listen to their stories, dreams and aspirations. Ideally, my clients become empowered to set and attain their goals. These counseling skills, when transferred to the world of business, provide opportunities to support employees, help guide organizational development and create pathways to leadership.
As my career journey unfolded, my calling and passion expanded to helping organizations achieve their goals and objectives. This often led to employees embracing change, pursuing new opportunities and starting new occupations. I had a niche market as the only career counselor providing services in American Sign Language to the federal government. These interests, skills and values helped to jump-start my business.
The fields of counseling, business and leadership are intertwined by challenges and possibilities. The underpinnings for taking hold of the ACA leadership baton at this juncture of my career and life can best be described as welcoming responsibility, having the courage to lead and looking to the future with a new vision.
In recent months, ACA has been focused on adapting to new practices during the pandemic, and rightly so. I doubt this was part of anyone’s vision. ACA is an organization of resilient people who possess the ability to leap from crisis to problem-solving and on to opportunity mode quickly. We took deep dives, collaborated, created, and expanded capabilities and offerings — ACA changed, adapted and is healthy and strong.
For the coming year, let’s begin with ACA’s vision: Every person has access to quality professional counseling to thrive. Building on this, my personal vision for ACA is to be the professional home for every counselor from every program and from every nation.
The following are my “Big Five” goals:
1) Increase international advocacy in emerging counseling communities. Because ACA is a multiracial and multiethnic organization, Heather Trepal and I have established a task force to provide recommendations on the association’s position in the international counseling arena.
2) Focus on counselor compensation. Bringing together counselors and business representatives for a series of “informative” meetings will increase awareness of counselor education, skill sets, certifications, licensure and compensation levels.
3) Create and implement a leadership development mentoring/matching program that will link accomplished counseling leaders with graduate students and early career professionals.
4) Develop a “Stories From the Field” project in which we provide an opportunity for members to learn from retired counselors by bringing their findings to the world through a series of podcasts and multimedia outlets.
5) Establish an interest network for counselors in business and those who want to develop business and consulting skills.
I am proud to be a counselor and honored to be your president. I look forward to engaging with you and representing our profession. Thank you for the opportunity.
Ready to help and lead? Please connect with me at email@example.com because “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller