Catherine Roland, age 74, of Metairie, Louisiana, passed away peacefully Nov. 5, 2021, at Tulane University Medical Hospital.
Roland was born in Huntington, New York, on March 18, 1947, to Dominic and Judith (Arleo) Buffalino. She spent her early years on Long Island, New York, and after graduating high school, she attended Marshall University, in Huntington, West Virginia, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and education. She was a high school English teacher and school counselor for two years in Cincinnati before completing her master’s degree and a doctorate in counseling and counselor education, respectively, from the University of Cincinnati.
Roland served as the 65th president of the American Counseling Association (2016-2017). During her presidency, she was the driving force behind the creation of the Illuminate Conference, which focused on the intersection of counseling and LGBTQ issue.
“Catherine Roland was often looking out for others — her clients, students, colleagues and those less fortunate,” said Richard Yep, ACA CEO. “She was a fierce advocate for the marginalized, alienated and those who suffered discrimination. While some thought that her creating the ACA Illuminate Conference was a crowning achievement for her, it was never about Catherine so much as bringing a community together that showcased ACA as a welcoming and supportive organization.”
“Catherine really was a very caring person. She was generous with both her time and her resources. I am so glad I had the chance to work as her staff partner during her presidency,” Yep continued. “She may have been small in stature, but she was a giant among those who at the end of their life could say that they fought the good fight.”
A licensed professional counselor, Roland had been a private practitioner and clinical supervisor, either part time or full time, for 30 years. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Roland was involved in the NO AIDS Task Force in New Orleans. She served as a volunteer HIV testing counselor and NO/AIDS Task Force Board member and founded New Orleans Women Against AIDS (NOWAA). NOWAA was founded as a women’s effort to raise money to fund people living with AIDS and AIDS-related complex in the greater New Orleans metro area. Led by Roland, NOWAA planned and executed numerous fundraising activities within the community, raising thousands of dollars for people with AIDS and AIDS-related complex.
Her career as a counselor educator spanned more than 25 years and included service as professor and chair of the counseling program at the Chicago School for Professional Psychology in Washington, D.C. She also held positions as professor and department chair at Montclair State University in New Jersey; Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia; the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville; and the University of New Orleans. Her student affairs positions were at Temple University in Philadelphia, Manhattanville College in New York City, and St. Mary’s Dominican College in New Orleans.
“For the past 25 years, Catherine Roland has been one of the most significant people in my life,” said Jane Rheineck, who served as treasurer during Roland’s ACA presidency and is currently the ACA Governing Council representative for the Society for Sexual, Affectional, Intersex and Gender Expansive Identities (SAIGE). “She was my friend and my guide, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself and taught me to trust myself. … I will continue to do the work that was important to both of us but will miss her tremendously in the process.”
“I was able to spend the last week of her life with her, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else,” Rheineck continued. “Nothing was left unsaid, and I can only hope that she felt how much I loved her. I knew a side of her that many didn’t know; as outgoing as she was, she was also very private. Most of all, I thanked her for sharing her life with me, and I am indeed a better person for knowing her.”
Roland was nationally active within the counseling profession for more than 30 years. In addition to being elected president of ACA, she served as president of the Association for Adult Development and Aging (AADA) and served three terms as a representative to the ACA Governing Council Representative. Roland was editor of Adultspan Journal, AADA’s national peer-reviewed journal, for 12 years, and most recently served on multiple national scholarly journal review boards, as well as on the ACA Publications Committee.
She was the recipient of many awards and honors throughout her career, including being named an ACA fellow in 2018. That same year, Roland received the Outstanding Alumna award from the University of Cincinnati. Other honors included the 2016 AADA Presidential Mentor Award and the AADA Distinguished Service to the Profession Award; the 2014 Locke-Paisley Outstanding Mentor Award from the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision and Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision; and the 2013 Presidential Professional Leadership Award from the American College Counseling Association (ACCA).
Roland was particularly known for her mentorship of others and the connections she maintained as new counseling professionals emerged into their careers.
“Dr. Catherine Roland — you made me feel like I mattered. You believed in me more than I believed in myself,” said Nicole Pulliam, director of the Social Justice Academy and associate professor in the Department of Educational Counseling and Leadership at Monmouth University. “You were the reason I decided to become a professor. You saw what I was unable to see, and for that, I am eternally grateful. You leave a great legacy: ‘Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?’”
John Nance, an assistant clinical professor, director of clinical field placements and director of testing within the University of North Carolina Charlotte counseling program, shared similar sentiments. “The world lost a giant. … Catherine was a dear friend. She elevated people to heights only she could imagine. At least that’s what she did for me. She loved deeply and I loved her deeply. The world seems darker today. Her light will be missed. …[We] laughed and dreamed of presenting together in Ireland or realms unknown. She dreamed for me. I will miss her strength and vision."
Roland returned to New Orleans in 2017 to private practice. Her clinical specialties included counseling young to midlife adults experiencing trauma, older adults, couples and families, and diverse populations. At the time of her death, Roland was an active board member of both CrescentCare and SAGE New Orleans – NOAGE. She was also an active board member of the Metairie Towers Condominium Association.
Roland is survived by her chosen family, Ada Christine Franz, John Patrick McKinney (Christopher Fagot), Brenda Baker, and Jane Rheineck (Anne MacArthur). She is also survived by her cousin, Roseanne Sheehan. Catherine also leaves behind many dear friends who have been touched by her generosity, kindness and love. A private service will be held, with a celebration of her life planned in the spring in New Orleans.Those wishing to honor her memory are encouraged to make donations to either CrescentCare or SAGE New Orleans – NOAGE.