Editor’s note: Information for each candidate, including biographical information, qualifications and reasons for seeking office is published below and in the December issue of Counseling Today. Online voting for all ACA, division and region elections will begin Dec. 1. The following answers are published as the candidates submitted them. They have not been edited.
CSJ DIVISION CANDIDATES
As a professional counselor, counselor educator, and long-time ACA member I seek the opportunity to provide service and have a voice in our professional organization. I have always been drawn to CSJ, as it aligns with my personal and professional views of counseling and life. I utilize the framework of social justice in my research agenda and in my everyday work with students and clients. This includes, but is not limited to, research and training on useful practices and behavioral systems to reduce racial/ethnic disproportionality in U.S. public schools, as well as resilience among LGBTQ youth. I embed social justice conversations and training in all of my counseling courses.
I feel I am qualified for the position of CSJ President because of the experience and skills I have developed over time in working as a professional counselor and counselor educator, always with issues of power, privilege, and justice in the forefront. Additionally, I have been involved with CSJ and currently serve the board as Secretary. This experience has enabled me to immerse myself in CSJ, learn the operations, and begin to think about leading the organization. I would consider it a pleasure and a privilege to serve ACA and CSJ in this capacity. I believe in the principles and mission of CSJ and would be proud to collaboratively lead the committee that addresses issues of privilege and oppression and promotes positive societal change through the training and development of professional counselors.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Governing Council Representative
Mariaimeé "Maria" Gonzalez
Deeply rooted in my soul and conscience is a commitment to social equality and justice for all. As a change agent prepared to address social inequities on both individual and systematic levels, I believe the Counselors for Social Justice ACA Governing Council representative position would be a wonderful opportunity for me to contribute to this professional association. My personal and professional goals are to advocate through leadership, education, mental health, and community/professional service and create opportunities for liberation. I am an active member of ACA, WACES and ACES, and a previous member on the ACA Human Rights Committee. I am currently collaborating on a textbook, Experiential Activities for Teaching Social Justice and Advocacy Competence in Counseling, to provide classroom activities for teaching social justice and advocacy to mental health professionals. I am a faculty member at Antioch University-Seattle; their programs are rooted in social justice, and I serve on the Washington State Counseling Association Board as Secretary. I am a Washington state community educator and consult with local leaders on numerous issues impacting my community such as human trafficking, homelessness, immigration human rights, LatinX human rights, and many other social concerns. I have served on community boards and I recognize the responsibility that accompanies this role is great. If elected as Governing Council Representative for CSJ, I will work to ensure that the CSJ mission is illuminated when supporting the decisions and the policies that enhance the professional journey of counselors and I will bring to each decision the best interests of the members of CSJ. I believe I am suited for acting as a liaison between CSJ and ACA Governing Council based on my personal and professional attributes and look forward to creating further systemic change and mental liberation.
Edil Torres Rivera
With all the complexities and delicacies that are required of an individual to be in an elected position at all organizational academic levels, I have heavily relied on my previous leadership experiences and current networks to collaboratively promote diverse agendas underpinned with long-term stability. Wrought from my experiences in understanding the decision-making process in organizational settings, I have been able to successfully guide my work with the American Counseling Association and in particular Counselors for Social Justice (CSJ). My first experience in academic governance affairs, as parliamentarian (1990-2000), I assisted Dr. Bernal Baca, President of the Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD), with promoting diverse advocacy agendas. Thereafter, I was appointed to be the process observer for the Counselors for Social Justice (CSJ) association during their inception stages. Later, I served as the seventh president of CSJ. My professional development continued with being the AMCD President elect in 2010-2011. During Dr. West-Olatunji’s American Counseling Association presidency (2013-2014), I assisted as her parliamentarian and my role continued under the direction of other AMCD presidents, Carlos Hipolito-Delgado and Catharina Chang (2014-2016). Throughout my years of service, I have incorporated social justice frameworks in my positions as a way to promote egalitarianism and conduct effective group work within counseling practices. In hopes of becoming a governing council representative of CSJ, it is my professional integrity and service that seeks to help the organization fulfill its mission to expand council awareness/action through multicultural and social justice perspectives. In addition, I know that my previous leadership experiences will contribute a foundational approach towards collaborative transparency by representing CSJ in all counseling spheres. Most importantly, my expertise in multicultural counseling principles will continue to advance the mission of promoting social justice competency, collaborative consultation, developing professional partnerships and strengthening diversity agendas at all systemic levels.
Melissa C. Henry
Candidate information unavailable.
Amy Renee Seader
I am currently a second-year graduate student in the Counseling Department with a specialization in School Counseling at the University of Arizona. As a founding member of the Counselor’s for Social Justice Chapter established in 2016 at the University of Arizona, I currently serve as the Acting Secretary for the 2017-2018 school year. Within the chapter, I also sit on the Advocacy and Social Justice in Schools committees. Additionally, in the spring of 2017, I completed training and facilitated intergroup dialogue on Race in America as part of the Voices of Discovery Program. During my first year as a graduate student, I realized that if I wanted to make a difference, simply going through the motions of completing course work was not going to satisfy my desire and need to be an advocate for social justice issues. The University of Arizona chapter was created through the collaboration of students that wanted to work towards the same mission. In the student representative position, I would like to share the knowledge and experience of being a part of a new CSJ Chapter with other universities. Furthermore, being a student representative is an opportunity to set a path for incorporating advocacy in my future work with marginalized communities in public school environments. I have begun my journey by teaching my own children what it means to be a part of the ongoing movement to create inclusion within our community. Now, I would like to go beyond my home and university by taking action at a broader level. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Retiree Person/Limited Means Representative
My passion is to help others succeed, particularly those who have great challenges of being treated fairly and given equal opportunities to succeed. Since we are living in an age in which human rights seem to be compromised even more than ever, it is paramount for mental health professionals to address social justice issues to support those individuals who are treated unfairly and actively facilitate the changes necessary to resolve and improve social concerns in our communities.
I am seeking the position of Community Representative with Counselors for Social Justice for many reasons. I believe that the role of a counselor educator has a lot of potential to help students to become social change agents within society beyond their education in the classroom. This starts with my role as a counselor educator and looking at what I am doing to model what this might look like. I think that if I am making social justice advocacy a priority within my teaching, supervision and research, then students may have a chance to see the different areas in which they too can advocate for marginalized populations. By continuing to cultivate my identity as an advocate, not only will I be able to better articulate what this means for me, but I will be introduced to new ways of advocating that I can then share in classroom experiences as an educator. I think of advocacy in many different ways and I am constantly evaluating myself and looking within to ponder what it is that I am doing on a daily basis to speak out against oppression. I seek consultation with peers and mentors, and step outside my comfort zone as a way to challenge myself to do more and expand my knowledge in this area. I have my personal experiences of oppression to reflect on, but also see the value in learning from others in terms of what advocacy looks like for them and how they are putting their words and passions into action. Again, I do these things to continue cultivating my role as an advocate. My hope is that I can continue to challenge myself by stepping into new territory within Counselors for Social Justice and pass that along to others.
I am interested in becoming the Community Representative for Counselors for Social Justice so that I can be a part of giving back to a larger population. I have been able to be active at a local and state level in a number of ways. First, I served the Wisconsin Counseling Association as professional development chair, president, and past-president from 2009-2012. I was able to be advocate for counselors and clients to provide care and unsure insurance coverage for underrepresented populations. Additionally, I planned our annual summit and other professional development activities. Since 2012, I have focused my efforts to my local community. I have been on the executive board of NAMI Oshkosh for three years. During this time, I have helped to plan a 5k and other fundraisers that have grossed nearly $40,000.00 that has been used to provide education and access to care in the Oshkosh Community. I would love to continue my learning and service on a national level.
Candidate information unavailable.
As a bilingual Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor in Missouri and Kansas, I am actively dedicated to confronting social justice issues in my community. Currently I am an Assistant Professor at a CACREP accredited university and I’m finishing my doctoral studies at Kansas State University with an expected graduation date of May 2018. Social Justice issues have been an important part of my development as a professional counselor since I immigrated from Costa Rica and worked with the Latina/o community for the past 15 years. Advocating and addressing social challenges with clients as they relate to diversity issues have always been part of my clinical work with individuals who might feel vulnerable in their systemic context. I strongly believe that as counselor educators and clinicians we have a responsibility to train counselors to be culturally competent and aware of cultural differences. I believe teaching counselors is the first step in creating social change, while also helping clients take an active role in making decisions that might impact their lives as well as the lives of other people. In addition, I am actively involved in the play therapy community and have presented many national and international conferences on topics related to multicultural issues, technology in the counseling field, and play therapy with adults. My interest in technology provided the opportunity to author the first play therapy interactive book for the IPad.