Allow me to introduce myself: I’m Kimberly Frazier, the 71st president of the American Counseling Association. I am excited to embark on this new journey, and I hope that I can inspire students, clinicians, professors, researchers and members along the way.
As a native of New Orleans and a proud alum of Xavier University of Louisiana, the only historically Black and Roman Catholic university as well as the only one to be founded by a saint (St. Katharine Drexel), I love New Orleans fiercely. The city has taught me the love of food and the importance of community that I take with me wherever I go. I am a New Orleans Saints football fan, of course, and in my free time, I am probably watching old Star Wars films or college basketball, going to a Saints game, spending time with family or simply enjoying the beauty of New Orleans.
During my year as your president, I plan to spotlight three areas that I am most passionate about: 1) justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI); 2) wellness and self-care; 3) mentoring.
The past two years have shined a light on social advocacy due to police violence, Black Lives Matter protests and the heightened threat of mass shootings, and they also underscore how important it is to continue to expand your knowledge in the area of JEDI. I’ve been passionate about JEDI since my time as a graduate student because I have experienced being put in places where I was the only person of color or the only person identifying as female or being ignored simply because of the multiple intersectionalities that I represent. As counselors, it is important that we continue to grow our knowledge, practice and application of diversity. This includes supporting those who are conducting research to help marginalized populations and disseminating resources to ensure culturally competent interventions.
The constant exposure to trauma, isolation and the need for advocacy due to the climate of social reckoning — ignited by the murder of George Floyd followed by the COVID-19 pandemic — have led to exhaustion, social isolation and higher numbers of people seeking mental health services. They have also highlighted that, for helping professionals, being in tune with our wellness and self-care is non-negotiable. Wellness and self-care are tools that I have always used throughout my journey in the counseling profession as a student, clinician, researcher, teacher, leader and mentor. In fact, we cannot be leaders, advocates, clinicians or mentors without being aware of our personal wellness and self-care. For the upcoming year, I want to focus on what ACA members and staff are doing for wellness and self-care to keep them grounded and motivated. Let’s get our ACA and counseling community to be more intentional about wellness and self-care and create a routine to make wellness a part of our normal practice.
The final highlighted area, mentoring, is a gift every counselor can give to themselves and then pay it forward to others in the profession. I am grateful to the mentors that helped me along the way, and I stand on their shoulders as I begin this next phase of my journey. The act of mentoring is vital in ensuring that diverse voices are present in the profession at all levels of leadership, clinical practice, teaching and research. The future of the counseling profession rests in mentoring not only counseling students and new professionals but also those already in the profession to help each group reach their highest potential
Every month, I will challenge you to grow based on one of the spotlight areas. This month I will focus on JEDI. I challenge you to investigate how the places you work, provide clinical services or volunteer all foster JEDI. Use the following questions to inform your investigation: How are JEDI initiatives executed, communicated, valued and evaluated in your workplace or volunteer organization? Does your workplace’s or volunteer organization’s mission and views on JEDI match your own?