ACA Awards Recognize Achievement and Excellence in Professional Counseling

Mar 27, 2024

Alexandria, Virginia (March 27, 2024) — Each year, the American Counseling Association (ACA) recognizes excellence in research, career and humanitarian achievement among counseling professionals and students with its awards and honors program. This year’s awards will be presented at ACA’s 2024 Conference & Expo in New Orleans, held April 11–April 13.

Meet our 2024 award winners:

ACA Fellows Award

The ACA Fellows Award is a distinctive honor that recognizes ACA members who have advanced the counseling profession throughout their career. We welcome the 2024 Fellows cohort:

  • Christine Suniti Bhat, PhD, LPC, Ohio University
  • Jeff Moe, PhD, LPC, LPCC, Old Dominion University
  • Benjamin V. Noah, PhD, Veterans of Foreign War #9168

Best Practices in Research Award

ACA recognizes best practices research projects conducted by a practicing counselor, faculty member and student.

Practitioner Award

Julia Conroy, LAC, The Joshua Center, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Faculty Award

Jennifer D. Deaton, PhD, LCMHC, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Student Award

Cheolwoo Park, PhD, University of Florida

Educator Advocacy Award

Charmayne Adams, PhD, Gonzaga University

Extended Research Award

Melissa M. Luke, PhD, LMHC, Syracuse University

Professional Development Award

Malti S. Tuttle, PhD, LPC, Auburn University

Research Award

Yusen Zhai, PhD, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Arthur A. Hitchcock Distinguished Professional Service Award

Yoon Suh Moh, PhD, LPC, Thomas Jefferson University

Carl D. Perkins Government Relations Award

Jordan B. Westcott, PhD, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Courtland C. Lee Multicultural Excellence Scholarship Award

Tianka Pharaoh, PhD, University of Central Florida

David K. Brooks Jr. Distinguished Mentorship Award

Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy, PhD, American University

Don Dinkmeyer Social Interest Award

Szu-Yu (Darlene) Chen, PhD, LPCC, Palo Alto University

Dr. Judy Lewis Counselors for Social Justice Award

Connie Jones, PhD, LCMHCA, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Garry R. Walz Trailblazer Award

Amanda L. Giordano, PhD, LPC, University of Georgia

Gilbert and Kathleen Wrenn Award for Humanitarian and Caring Person Award

Gene N. Dockery, PhD, LPCC, Seattle University

Glen E. Hubele National Graduate Student Award

Azadeh Ahmadi, The Pennsylvania State University

Kitty Cole Human Rights Award

Stephanie F. Dailey, EdD, LPC, George Mason University

Ralph F. Berdie Memorial Award

Gon Ratanashevorn, PLPC, University of Missouri, St. Louis

Richard K. Yep Award

Paul L. Nelson, Retired

Robert H. Rencken Emerging Professional Leader Award

Matthew L. Nice, PhD, LPC, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Kent Butler Transformative Impact Award

Anita Young, PhD, Johns Hopkins University

Thelma T. Daley Advocacy and Equity Award

Beatrice Tatem, PhD, LPC, Wellness Initiatives LLC

Thomas Hohenshil National Publication Award

L. DiAnne Borders, PhD, LCMHC, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Thomas J. Sweeney Award for Visionary Leadership and Advocacy

Shawn L. Spurgeon, PhD, LPC, St. Mary’s University


Graduate Student Ethics Competition

These awards recognize exceptional, demonstrable understanding of the ACA Code of Ethics — the foundation of ethical professional counseling practice — in both master’s and doctoral student categories.

1st Place — Master’s

University of Texas at San Antonio
Travis Walker, Emma Tharp, Elaine Oyama (Barbara Herlihy, PhD, Adviser)

2nd Place — Master’s

Johns Hopkins University
Cindy Bui, John-Henry Strong, Tanya P. Vasunia, TW Cherry Ng (Sterling P. Travis, PhD, LCPC, LPC, Adviser)

3rd Place — Master’s

University of South Carolina School of Medicine
Erica Hoyer, Hayden Petee, Samantha Haering (Christine Sacco-Bene, PhD, LMHC, LPC, Adviser)


1st Place — Doctoral

Oakland University
Kaitlin Farver, Hayley Ostlund, Stefan Radke (James Hansen, PhD, Adviser)

2nd Place — Doctoral

University of the Cumberlands
Alicia Spomer, Pete Stern, Beth Bell, Jennifer Hartman (Colleen Grunhaus, PhD, LPC, LCMHC, Adviser)

3rd Place — Doctoral

Bowie State University
Emilia Henry, Xiomara Medina, Carolyn Thorpe (Kimberly Mills, PhD, LCPC, Adviser)


Student Essay Competitions

Tomorrow’s Counselors Essay Competition

This competition recognizes graduate counseling students with exceptional insight and understanding about the counseling profession and the work of professional counselors in mental health, private practice, community agency, agency, organization or related counseling settings.

Grand Prize

Clinta Stanislaus
University of Massachusetts Global

1st Place

Gracie Edler
Loyola Marymount University

2nd Place

Peter Simon Walsh
The George Washington University

Honorable Mention

Joan Bambrick
Bellevue University

Barry Gibson
University of New Orleans


Future School Counselor Essay Competition

This competition recognizes graduate counseling students with exceptional insight and understanding about the school counseling profession and the work of professional school counselors who interact with elementary, middle or high school students.

Grand Prize

Sanjana Sheth
Merrimack College

1st Place

Jennifer Russell
Lamar University

2nd Place

Carlie Carter
College of William and Mary

Honorable Mention

James Harris
Regent University

Tiffnie Sevin
Nicholls State University



The American Counseling Association is a not-for-profit professional and educational organization that is dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession. Founded in 1952, ACA represents nearly 60,000 members and is the world’s largest association exclusively representing professional counselors in various practice settings.