Background and Purpose

Sam Gladding, former American Counseling Association President and past Trustee of the American Counseling Association Foundation, has always advocated for professional counselors who provide direct services to students and clients. He believes their work is often overlooked and seldom recognized. Dr. Gladding refers to these dedicate individuals as Unsung Heroes.

Dr. Gladding and his wife, Claire, launched the award to recognize those professional counselors providing direct services. 

Deadline:  Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, 11:59 PM EST
Judges:  ACA Awards Committee
Prize: $1,000 honorarium, complimentary ACA Conference & Expo registration (travel and lodging not included). Recognition and presentation of the award at the Conference.
Sponsor: Dr. and Mrs. Gladding provided the initial funding for this award. The award has been funded by the American Counseling Association Foundation since 2014.

Eligibility, Rules and Criteria

To be eligible, a nominee must:

  • Be licensed as a professional counselor.
  • Have been in the counseling profession for more than five years.
  • Work currently as a full-time practitioner (in school, mental health, rehabilitation counseling, etc.) providing direct services to clients or students.
  • Have not previously received state, division, regional or national awards or recognition from a counseling association more than once.
  • Nominations must come from an ACA member.
  • The awardee must be an ACA member.
  • An individual can only be nominated for one award per year. 

Nomination Guidelines

In the nominations submission:

  • Include a one-page summary explaining why the nominee would be a good choice to receive the Unsung Heroes Award. Include examples that distinguish this individual in regard to their direct service work.
  • Dr. Gladding’s vision is to recognize and celebrate a counselor who does not draw attention to himself or herself but who works for the good of others, someone who contributes his/her talents to their community and who is not generally recognized for his/her counseling work. Please address how the nominee meets these qualifications in the one-page summary.

Nomination Checklist

  • Nominee Biography
  • Nomination Letter
  • Supporting Materials
  • Maximum of two supporting letters


**NOTE:  If this is the first time you have submitted a nomination, you must create an account.  The email and password for the awards submission system may or may NOT be the same as your ACA website email and password.  They are different systems, and are not linked.

Submissions must be received by Monday, Dec. 10, 2018, 11:59 PM EST.

Send questions about eligibility criteria or other parts of the application process HERE

Supported and sponsored by the American Counseling Association Foundation.

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