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I returned from the NACAC conference in Columbus, OH last night.  I find myself completely energized by the conversations that I heard and inspired by the work of my colleagues being done around the world.  It felt like everything was on the table; from testing and curriculum to financial aid.  There was a spirit of transparency and collaboration that made me excited to do my job.  I also came away keenly aware that while we make progress every day there is still so much to do in the areas of access, empathy and inclusion.  This conference had some painful moments and I only hope that the awareness that came from pain will make us aware that we have big issues that need to be solved.

I understand that the ability to attend a national conferences is a privilege that many of our members do not enjoy.  Furthermore, only 5% of the high school counselors in the United States are members of NACAC. I know that there are many organizations doing great work and we are even partnering with CASC this year.  While I’m excited about that partnership, I know that there are many more counselors across California, Nevada and the rest of America who feel like they do their work alone, on an island.  It’s those counselors who capture my attention.

This year WACAC will continue to focus not only on access and development for our members, but also on being available for those counselors who don’t know our goofy acronym.  We have several exciting initiatives this year that will culminate in June with our 50th conference in Visalia, CA.  We are going to Visalia because we know that the Central Valley of California has long been underserved.  We are going to Visalia because we want to be intentional about going where we are needed.  We are going to Visalia because we don’t want to be an organization that perches itself on a pedestal and asks that you come to us.  We are going to the Central Valley because in fifty years we never have and it’s time!

Make no mistake, we have a long tradition of reaching out to counselors with programs like District Directions, Share Learn and Connect, IDEA and LDI.  This board wants to continue that tradition.  Along the way, we will proudly and diligently partner with Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative and its partner programs, Up Next and Better Make Room.  You’ll be hearing more about those programs in the coming weeks and you’ll have opportunities to get involved.

I’m excited about this year and I’m proud to be a part of this organization. May you go to work every day with the knowledge that the way that you invest in your students today will inform the way that they invest in others tomorrow. Thank you for all that you do.