Richard YepEach July, ACA welcomes a new president who will serve for the next 12 months as our association’s leader and primary spokesperson. For the past 16 years, I have had the honor of being the person who works most closely with the association’s chief elected officer to carry out the organization’s strategic mission. Our 62nd president is Cirecie West-Olatunji, and we welcome her to this new role.

Similar to her predecessors, Cirecie is quick to say that this will not be “her year” so much as it will be “our year.” Her hopes, vision and aspirations for the next 12 months were reached after much discussion, interaction and dialogue with ACA members and leaders from throughout the country and around the world.

I have known Cirecie for a number of years. My sense is that she intends to bring together groups and individuals to generate the best possible ideas and actions for promoting the counseling profession and honoring its commitment to social justice for the good of those whom our members serve.

To those of you who are also assuming new leadership roles in July, I want to say congratulations for committing to serve at the branch, region, division, national or international level. Simply saying “yes” to the call to serve invigorates those of us who will be working with you.

And what would a column on new leadership be if I didn’t also reach out to those of you who have perhaps thought about how you might get involved with ACA? As the association continues to grow (as it has for an extended period of time), more opportunities make themselves available. As I have said before, you don’t need to commit hours and hours each month to be an ACA volunteer. In fact, if you tell us you have only one hour available each month to serve, we will do our best to find a place that offers a meaningful experience for you. To find out what is possible, contact ACA Director of Leadership Services Holly Clubb at

Volunteering and being a part of the “ACA experience” is not just for “newbies.” If you have been a volunteer or served in a leadership capacity in the past, I understand how you might have needed a bit of a break to focus on that part of your life that pays the rent. But I also sense that the time away revealed how much some of you missed participating in ACA’s volunteer leadership program. You are still only an email away from reconnecting and allowing us to help you find a new place to volunteer on behalf of the profession. Please let us know of your interest because we would love to have you back.

July is the beginning of ACA’s fiscal and program year. As staff and volunteers, we have worked hard over the past few years to lay the groundwork for what will happen during 2013-2014. This will be our first full year with the new, award-winning ACA website. We also recently introduced our online ACA communities, known as ACA Connect. This will serve to bring together our committees, task forces, interest networks and other groups of professional counselors that want to work on the many issues facing the profession.

As I hope you know, approximately nine months from now, ACA President West-Olatunji will open our annual conference and exposition in Honolulu (taking place March 27-30, with preconference learning institutes March 26-27). We have had an amazing response to the call for programs, so I am confident of the high-quality programming we will be featuring. And that is on top of the networking and career development opportunities that present themselves in abundance when thousands of counselors and counselor educators gather under one roof.

During 2013-2014, our foray into social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube will continue to grow. This can no longer be classified as a “wave of the future” or some “passing fad.” We recognize just how much information is shared and how
many discussions and idea exchanges now take place through these sites, so we are dedicating a number of resources this year to enhance and improve our involvement. But if you aren’t as involved in social media, don’t worry! We are still publishing 11 professional journals and 10 new books (plus 12 monthly issues of Counseling Today) that can be read without an electronic device.

The need is great in our society for those who work in professional counseling. Your time is now. ACA knows this, and I think that the public does as well. ACA wants to be with you every step of the way as you make your mark in society for those facing life’s challenges. I look forward to the amazing year our association will have, and I thank you for being part of our community.

As always, I also look forward to your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to call me at 800.347.6647 ext. 231 or email me at You can also follow me on Twitter: @RichYep.

Be well.