Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

American Counseling Association: The 50th Year Celebration of Excellence. (Profiles)

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

American Counseling Association: The 50th Year Celebration of Excellence. (Profiles)

Article excerpt

A world-recognized professional counseling organization, the American Counseling Association (ACA) of 2002 has more than 55,000 members; 16 divisions and 2 organizational affiliates; 4 regional associations; and 56 branches, partners, and related organizations. The members, who are in diverse work setting specialties and have various philosophical leanings and theoretical orientations with emphases on counseling and development, are well represented.


At the April 29, 2001, ACA Executive Committee meeting of nine members held at the home of Past President Judy Lewis in Chicago, a decision was made to begin the golden anniversary kickoff during Jane Goodman's term (2001-2002) and to continue the celebration during the actual anniversary and during David M. Kaplan's administration (2002-2003), the association's 51st president.

What the association has become and what it represents today is the legacy of its past presidents, who had a supporting cast that included numerous elected officials of divisions and regions and many committee members with special expertise. Their ambitions and courage, applied in serving the association and its members, provided numerous challenges and substantial workloads. With their talent and potential, the presidents upheld the association's constitution and bylaws and seemed to follow one path to improve the association and increase its relevance to members who were meeting the challenges of society's changing social conditions. The paths chosen for the association by the presidential leaders were influenced by economic, social, political, philosophical, and other forces and identified critical tasks essential to progress. There were few quick fixes, however. Courageously, the presidents moved ahead the old-fashioned way, with patience and determination. Their efforts combined to build ACA and bring it to the present, and their vision recognized the possibilities still evolving. They have brought the association a long way, but the quest is still in process!

Incorporated in 1952 as the American Personnel and Guidance Association (APGA), ACA was renamed the American Association for Counseling and Development (AACD) in 1983. The current name (American Counseling Association) was adopted in 1992.

Among the 51 presidential leaders who served the membership during the association's first half century were 30 men and 21 women. Of the former presidents, 36 (19 women and 18 men) are living (see Appendix A for the complete list).


Attempts have been made over the years to provide sufficient detail about the roles of and the expectations for association presidents. All of the presidents have experienced strategic planning concerns, but models and processes of strategic management seem to have become more conspicuous in the operation and functioning of the association since the late 1970s.

Most recently, a Code of Leadership Ethics was approved by the ACA Governing Council during the 1997 national convention in Orlando, Florida, when Gail Robinson was president. At the Governing Council meeting the following October, during Courtland Lee's presidency, the action at Orlando was reconsidered, and they adopted the policy statement titled the "Code of Leadership of the American Counseling Association," which clarified job descriptions for the association. In the revised edition, the words ethical and ethics were deleted and the last line of paragraph 1 was rewritten as follows: "The specification of this code enables the association to clarify to its leaders and members the nature of the responsibilities held in common by the leaders" (ACA Governing Council, 1997, p. 9).

Policies and procedures for nominations and elections of presidential candidates were clarified during Judy Lewis's presidency. As of September 2000, the ACA bylaws stipulate that the official duties of the president are to preside at all meetings of the association; chair and preside at Governing Council and Executive Committee meetings; serve as an ex officio member without vote on all committees, with the exception of the Nominations and Election Committee; delegate tasks to the executive director; perform the duties customary to the office of president; and carry out such additional duties as directed by the Governing Council. …

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