Richard Yep

Recently, I attended a conference for association executives. A very dedicated leader of our group was being honored for the many accomplishments he had achieved on behalf of the profession during his long life. In explaining what he enjoyed about the association management profession, he shared a story of meeting up with an old friend in an airport. When he asked how this colleague was doing, the friend replied simply, “Still learning.” What a basic yet profound thing to say. It’s good to hear someone exclaim that after so many years on this planet, they’re “still learning.”

I know many of you who are starting your graduate studies or perhaps finishing up during this academic year are in the process of gaining the knowledge and experience you need to excel in the counseling profession. I salute you for your dedication to the profession you have chosen and for all the good things I know you will do both now and into the future. My hope as the academic year begins is that you will turn to the American Counseling Association for both resources and services. In addition, you should know that the leadership of the Graduate Students Association of ACA has been very busy looking at ways to enhance your experience by reviewing what the association can offer you.

It is also clear to me that lifelong learning is more than just a buzz phrase for ACA members. Our recent spike in publications sales, the number of early registrations for the Annual Convention in Detroit next March and the increasing growth in our continuing education courses and tests are all evidence that many of you truly are “still learning.”

With the constant changes in society, the evolving technologies that make us a global village and the need to provide counseling services to an ever-increasing group of children, adults and families, the work of the professional counselor is more important than ever. ACA wants to be your resource, your support and your place to network, providing a means for you to communicate with your peers.

But we cannot do that effectively if we don’t know what you want. Over the next several months, I will continue to ask the question: “What do you need or want to help you be a better professional counselor?” After all, this is YOUR professional association. We could easily “muddle” through and do business as usual for another 12 months, but you know what? That is no longer good enough for me. And I don’t think it is good enough for you either.

I heard recently that consumer products giant Procter & Gamble went through a “near death” experience financially before realizing that some really good ideas were out there that simply weren’t being brought to market. These ideas weren’t coming from the company’s own staff of engineers, researchers and marketing people, but from consumers, inventors and idea people who could help companies such as Procter & Gamble be competitive once again. This year, more than half of the corporate giant’s new products will have emerged from innovative thoughts and ideas generated outside the company. This synergy of outside ideas and inside resources (such as product development) has resulted in some very positive outcomes.

OK, what does all this have to do with ACA, its members and the counseling profession? It means that ACA needs to depend on you for the ideas, products and services that we develop. Through research and surveys, and with the help of our members contacting us, we should be able to bring more things to market that will mean something to you.

In addition, if you were to ask me how we were doing, I would like to say, “Still learning.” My challenge to you is to let the leadership and staff know what we can do to enhance your ACA experience. One of our goals this year is to reach a point where you won’t think twice when it comes time to renew your membership in ACA. We want you to renew not out of any sense of obligation but because you willingly want to be part of the largest organization in the world specifically dedicated to the counseling profession.

As always, I hope you will communicate any comments, questions or suggestions that you might have. Please contact me either via e-mail at or by phone at 800.347.6647 ext. 231.

Thanks and be well.