When the new program year at ACA begins on July 1, we welcome officers, Governing Council representatives, and appointees to committees, task forces and commissions. As Dr. Kent Butler begins his term as ACA’s 70th president, the staff and I wish him and his colleagues the best in their new roles.
This will also be the first full year of operation for ACA’s Anti-racism Commission, a group composed of highly skilled and experienced professional counselors who will help guide our organization as we take a close look at issues of organizational, institutional and systemic racism. The commission’s creation was one of many actions taken last year by the Governing Council and immediate past President Sue Pressman to address racism and discrimination.
The genesis of the commission happened 12 months ago with the creation of an anti-racism statement. That was followed by development of an anti-racism task force, and then the Governing Council’s approval to have staff implement a nine-point plan addressing issues around racism and the role counselors must play to ameliorate this blight on society.
In the coming months, you will read about the work of staff and the ACA Anti-racism Commission as we ramp up these important efforts. Chaired by Taunya Tinsley, the commission also includes Monica Band, Latasha Becton, Shawn Spurgeon and Sam Steen. The staff and I are excited to work with this incredible group of individuals.
Moving forward, ACA must take what it learned from operating during a pandemic to maximize the services, resources, representation and advocacy we provide to the counseling profession. We do this so that you can better serve your clients, students and communities.
ACA is no longer that “traditional” membership organization where it was assumed you would join — no questions asked — if you were part of the profession. In fact, it is just the opposite. I urge you to ask some (or all) of the following questions: Why should I join? What are the benefits? Will it support me in what I do? Will it push me to do even better in my job as a professional counselor? Does ACA’s public policy advocacy benefit me (or those with whom I work)? Is ACA helping me wherever I am in my career? Do I support ACA’s efforts to address social and racial justice issues?
You may have many other questions of your own. My hope is that when you look at our efforts, you will find that they typically align with your own efforts, needs and ambitions. During the recently completed program year (which ended June 30), we set a modern-day record for the number of attendees at the ACA Virtual Conference Experience. In fact, more than 70% of those attendees hadn’t been to an ACA conference in the past five years. Our membership grew by 4,000, and our retention rate (those choosing to renew) also increased over the previous year. Clearly, we were doing something that resonated with both members and nonmembers.
As we begin a new program year, here is my commitment as your CEO. You will continue to see changes, enhancements and improvements at ACA. We are blessed with a dedicated, creative and hardworking staff. We want to deliver what you need.
At the end of every column, I provide my contact information as a reminder that the staff, the board and I value your input. I will reiterate that here: As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to call me at 800-347-6647 ext. 231 or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter: @Richyep.