Richard Yep, ACA CEO

As I reflect on the unimaginable past year, one that included a global pandemic and a greater focus on racial injustice, much of what we were doing and expected to be doing faced radical change. This past year, I have had more conversations about social justice and systemic racism than I could have anticipated. I am a better person for those conversations, and I am indebted to those with whom I spoke. 

In dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, ACA had to make almost instantaneous decisions to change the way we delivered services, products and resources to members. Our advocacy efforts for counselors and those they serve needed to be reengineered so that our message could continue to be shared with government policymakers, the media and the public. 

I must express my deep gratitude to the following individuals for the ways in which they faced multiple crises and arrived at creative solutions, despite all of the physical and emotional pain so many were experiencing.

I want to personally thank ACA President Sue Pressman and her colleagues on the Governing Council. The vision, guidance, advice and support of our volunteer leaders at the national level were key to ACA being able to execute its mission and exceed many expectations. President Pressman stepped into a year in which she had to adapt to a very different way of serving than any of her 68 predecessors. She took on the challenge and rose to the occasion of what the profession needed, when it needed it, and continued to lead in a space unfamiliar to all of us. 

The ACA president and the CEO work as a team and must depend on each other to bring forward the best they can based on their experience. Dr. Pressman found ways to deliver speeches to our members, represented the profession through participation with many groups around the globe, and even had the energy to create a new mentoring program that will benefit hundreds of emerging counselors. 

The ACA Governing Council representatives were prevented from gathering in their traditional way and had to adapt to having more frequent meetings, of shorter length, all conducted over Zoom. They rose to the occasion, and when considering all the board accomplished this year, I think it can be agreed that they were able to continue meeting the needs of members. I’d like to express my thanks to those whose terms will continue into next year. While Dr. Pressman will continue on the board next year as ACA’s immediate past president, others will be leaving their roles on June 30. Please join me in thanking the following for their service:

  • Heather Trepal, ACA past president 
  • Cirecie West-Olatunji, treasurer 
  • Mike Walsh, parliamentarian 
  • Melanie Drake Wallace, process observer
  • Judy Daniels, special adviser to the president
  • Donna Gibson, representative, Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling
  • Carlos Hipolito-Delgado, representative, Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development
  • Paige Dunlap, representative, American Rehabilitation Counseling Association
  • Elizabeth O’Brien, representative, Association for Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling
  • Edil Torres Rivera, representative, Counselors for Social Justice
  • Paul Peluso, representative, International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors
  • Laura Pignato, student representative

These dedicated leaders were instrumental in the work of the association during a very challenging time. In addition to those elected or appointed to the board, two other people stepped up to help President Pressman: graduate student assistant Anaid Shaver and assistant to the president Mark Harding. We thank both for their service to the president and ACA.

Another key group of leaders are those who volunteered their time on committees, task forces, interest networks, divisions, regions and branches. These colleagues worked tirelessly on behalf of the profession. 

I also want to make sure we acknowledge the 60 individuals who constitute the ACA staff. When this association shifted to a work-from-home status on March 12, 2020, no one could have known that it would last this long or that we would need to create projects, services and an amazing virtual conference while sitting at kitchen tables or in bedrooms. Those contacting the ACA call center haven’t been aware that they are talking to our member engagement team specialists via laptops and phones located at these staffers’ homes. Our goal was to seamlessly transition to working from home for safety reasons, and I am incredibly proud of all that my staff teammates have done this year on behalf of the profession and our members. 

Last but not least, I am grateful for each one of you who holds the status of ACA member. You have been incredible at what you continue to do for clients and students. We can be discouraged by many things, but I find myself constantly reenergized by what I know you are all doing to make our communities, our nation and, really, our world a better place. You are what keeps me going, and for that I am grateful.

As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to call me at 800-347-6647 ext. 231 or to email me at You can also follow me on Twitter: @Richyep.