June marks the end of Kimberly Frazier’s term as the 71st president of the American Counseling Association. Frazier has accomplished much over these past 12 months. Surrounded by supportive colleagues, she has worked hard to move the counseling profession and ACA forward with her three spotlight initiatives: justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI); wellness and self-care; and mentoring.
Making diversity and inclusion a priority
One of Frazier’s passions — both professionally and personally — is creating resources and advocating for marginalized people, so it’s not surprising that she put the JEDI initiative front and center during her ACA presidency.
In February, Frazier, along with Rheeda Walker, discussed Black mental health and wellness on a special episode of ACA’s podcast, The Voice of Counseling. And at the 2023 ACA Conference & Expo, Frazier announced that she had created a new award honoring Thelma Daley, who was the first Black woman to serve as ACA president (1975-1976).
“Dr. Daley has not only inspired me, but she helped pave the way to leadership for so many others,” Frazier says. “The Dr. Thelma T. Daley Advocacy and Equity Award will recognize our member advocates who have made a real difference by advocating on behalf of Black and Brown communities.”
Advocating for counselor wellness
Frazier acknowledges that counselors cannot be leaders, advocates, clinicians and mentors without first learning to take care of themselves. The first step, she says, is often being aware of one’s own personal wellness and self-care needs.
“We cannot pour from an empty cup as counselors,” Frazier reminds her colleagues.
Frazier worked closely with ACA to select a Counseling Awareness Month theme that focused on wellness and self-care. This year’s theme, “Get Fit for Your Future,” reminded counselors to prioritize keeping their physical, emotional, social, spiritual and mental health “in shape.” ACA kicked off Counseling Awareness Month with a workout video designed for counselors on April 1 and a Peloton ride with Frazier and ACA CEO Shawn Boynes on April 8. And all month long, counselors took advantage of curated resources on the ACA website that aimed to help them “get fit” for their future.
Focusing on mentoring
Throughout her presidency, Frazier has emphasized that mentoring is key to developing a confident and skilled group of future advocates and leaders.
On June 21, she will lead a virtual mentoring summit, which features a keynote address and two speaker sessions on successful mentoring, how to select a mentor and the benefits of mentoring. This event will help program leaders and mentors discover new ways to execute their mentoring efforts, and it will help new professionals and students learn best practices in finding a mentor and fostering a healthy mentoring relationship.
Frazier was also able to bring together two of her initiatives — JEDI and mentoring — by helping ACA form a partnership with HBCU Cares, an organization that aims to raise awareness of and access to mental health for diverse students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Through a partnership between ACA, HBCU Cares and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a group of HBCU Cares students was able to attend the ACA conference for the first time.
“Partnerships such as this will help raise ACA’s visibility outside of the counseling realm and connect us with entities that lacked awareness about the importance of counseling and the counseling profession,” Frazier says.
Through her presidential spotlights, speaking engagements and monthly Counseling Today columns, Frazier has motivated, inspired and challenged her colleagues to push themselves to be better counselors, advocates and leaders for the profession and the communities they serve. In her Counseling Today columns, Frazier went beyond simply telling readers what JEDI, wellness and mentoring should look like; she also encouraged her colleagues to put her advice into action by ending each column with a challenge related to one of her presidential initiatives.
Frazier continues to challenge and inspire those in the profession and organization. She fondly recalls watching Beverly O’Bryant speak during the opening session of the 2002 ACA conference. Seeing O’Bryant on stage in that leadership role illustrated to Frazier what could be achieved through hard work and stellar mentorship.
“Seeing her made me feel seen,” Frazier recalls. “I hope that I can inspire another counselor to see themselves inside of ACA working as a leader and an advocate, just as I was inspired when I watched Dr. Beverly O’Bryant speak during the opening session of the ACA conference many years ago.”
Throughout her presidency, Frazier has also reminded her colleagues, “The advocacy continues.” That message will serve as a guiding light for ACA and the counseling profession even after Frazier’s presidency comes to an end this June.