Excitement. Joy. Anticipation. Surprise. Humility. As my presidency approaches, I ask myself, “How did I end up with this great honor and privilege of service to my profession?”

A number of emotions and questions are floating through my mind as I write this first presidential column. American Counseling Association president! Have you ever waited for something for so long and then, once it finally arrived, asked yourself, “Now what?” Many people have invested themselves in our organization and contributed great work throughout the years, and I am committed to continuing — and building on — their legacy.

I want to express my thanks to all of you who afforded me this wonderful opportunity by voting for me. I appreciate your support tremendously and look forward to serving you to the best of my ability. For those of you who had other visions for this year, I hope you will be pleased with our work together once the year is done. I also want to thank those of you who have volunteered to serve on various committees and task forces. Your enthusiasm for your profession and your commitment are heartwarming. As we discuss your willingness to work, it makes me smile to see the excitement that comes with making a difference in our professional organization. I hope you are ready for all the exciting work we have ahead of us!

I also want to express my thanks to all the leaders from the various branches, regions, divisions and the Governing Council who work so hard on behalf of our profession. I have seen firsthand all the hard work and commitment that goes into doing a great job for your representative entities. I look forward to working with you this year. Finally, I want to express my thanks to immediate Past President Lynn Linde for mentoring me. Her commitment to leadership has been phenomenal, as have her efforts to ensure that the transition between her tenure as president and mine would be seamless. Thank you, Lynn!

As we move forward, our emphasis will be on the priorities that emerged during our strategic initiative planning process: improving member services for the 21st century, integrating research and practice, advocating for the profession and strengthening the organization. In addition, specific task forces and committees will focus on issues such as technology in counseling, crisis response planning, international development and collaboration. Finally, a special task force has been developed to work on a project involving ACA’s service to the New Orleans community throughout my year as president. Historically, various divisions have offered wonderful community projects. We want to continue those projects, but it is my hope that we can also offer sustainable services that will provide ongoing support for the community.

This month, we will hold the Second Annual ACA Summer Institute for Leadership Training, which includes leaders from the branches, regions and divisions. Special programming for emerging leaders is a major component of this leadership institute, which happens to be one of my favorite experiences professionally. To be surrounded by our profession’s leaders is a phenomenal experience. It is a time for us to connect, collaborate, plan for the future and determine how we can assist one another in our professional development. President-elects and chair-elects will have an opportunity to see firsthand what will be coming their way. Current presidents and region chairs will have the opportunity to network and share their plans for the coming year. And emerging leaders will have an opportunity to learn more about the organizational structure and leadership development at the national level. In looking back at the previous leadership institute, I know we are in for a great year, and I look forward to it with great anticipation!

As we begin our journey together this year, I believe we will be a richer, stronger community by welcoming divergent views and encouraging the inclusion of all who wish to participate. I hope you will contact me via e-mail at Marcheta.Evans@utsa.edu if you have thoughts, concerns or suggestions.