By Ed Devine

It has been a tremendous honor to serve as the 39th President of WACAC during the past year.  I hope I did my part in carrying the baton with honor on behalf of all of our current and past members and the 38 presidents that have gone before me.  As I set out on my Past-President year, I look forward to serving alongside Jeff Morrow and to working with Sonia Ryan and all the members of the Executive Board.  I also hope to harness energy from the individual stories of our WACAC members as we begin the celebration of our 50th year.

Throughout the year, I learned so much from the Board, Former Presidents, and each and every volunteer that lent an enthusiastic hand to make WACAC magic happen.

We began the year with our board retreat in San Diego, and kicked off the program with a simplified version of the Myers Briggs Assessment.  The North/South/East/West personality test helped us acknowledge our differences, and taught us to honor our unique styles and find strengths in those differences. To see where your leaders fell in this assessment, click here.

blog1As we set up a plan for the year, we quickly had to turn our energies to the National Conference.  Western ACAC hosted over 7,500 colleagues in San Diego for the 71st National Conference.  For the heroic efforts set forth by the Local Advisory Committee and every volunteer, I will forever be grateful and inspired.  The health benefits of walking nearly a marathon each day (Fitbits confirmed this!) was secondary to the joy we had welcoming conference attendees to beautiful California.

blog2Following the National Conference, we began planning for our Government Relations conference in Sacramento.  To my fellow “North” Kris Zavoli, your experience and passion for lobbying was inspiring and gave hope that, from a 30,000 foot vantage, we can make a difference.  We left our mark in DC and Sacramento (thank you, Breanne Boyle), and there’s more to come.

Clearly, there are many heroic efforts from volunteers that go into making the association successful.  To Vanessa Ea and all of the college fair site-coordinators, thank you.  To all of the NACAC site coordinators and volunteers, especially to AhYoung Chi, thank you.  Thank you to Lauren Popkowski and all of the SLC Chairs for an amazing series of events this year.  To our sheriff, Sonia Ryan, thank you for all the work with the AP Committee.  Kevin Dyerly, WACAC Development Chair, sprinted us to the finish line at the Membership meeting and allowed us to exceed our fund-raising goals.  Andy Castillo, thank you for stepping into the Treasurer’s role, again.  Samantha Schreiber and the Communications Committee, I only have one thing to say #awesome!

Jamilla Jamison and the entire DEA and IDEA teams, thank you for blazing the trail and leading our organization in what should be considered our most important work.  Angie Goss and Naomi Grisham, we appreciate you keeping the drums beating for Nevada and the Transfer Students, we will always have your back.  Thank you Andy Losier for managing our Membership, I look forward to the year to come with our new CRM.

blog3Gregg Murray kept us moving forward in our initiatives to engage other counseling associations.  We look forward to expanding the work that Esther Hugo, Peggy Hock, Katy Murphy, and Terri Devine started with the White House Reach Higher initiative.  To learn more, or to join, click here.

What an ending to the year, with a fifth return to Loyola Marymount!  Peggy Hock led a dedicated conference planning committee and a powerfully driven LMU staff, led by Radia Alouache, to execute an amazing conference.  Thank you Teri Kuwahara for all the organization, planning and executing of every detail that helped make the conference a success.  Peggy has served WACAC for the past three years with drive and conviction. Thank you Peggy for your passion and commitment to our organization.

A special thank you to Deanna “the baton” Kilgour who has guided WACAC through so much with great care and attention to detail.  She is truly the backbone of what we do.

I would like to dedicate my year of service to the memory of my Mom and Dad.  Both born and raised in Lawrence, MA, the city of my birth.  Lawrence, known as Immigrant City has a rich tradition of being the landing spot for many new to this country.  The city’s public school Lawrence High School, has been consistently ranked in the lowest 1% of high schools in the nation, having one of the highest percentages of non-native English speakers.  My Mom and Dad, both of whom did not attend college, worked there for many years.   My Dad, who completed training at Lowell Technical Institute while working, had 2 jobs for most of his life.  My Mom also fought for the future of young people through her work at the Boys and Girls Club in addition to her work at Lawrence High.  Both believed in every young person’s potential and fought to provide a better life than they themselves had experienced.  It wasn’t necessarily college access they believed in, but it was definitely their full belief that all deserve an equal playing field.

Also dedicated to the memory of my mentor and friend, who taught me the most important lesson in life – there is never a bad day at the beach, thank you Frank “Chooch” Massino.

Always, to my best friend and favorite colleague, thank you Terri for all your support, inspiration and the joy you bring to me and all those you work with.

I look forward to celebrating the 50th Anniversary with you all.  Please raise your voice, raise your hand, and join the efforts to serve those who serve our students.  As we execute our strategic plan, we will take WACAC to new places while continuing with established programs.

I hope you will share your voice as we journey onto serve as only WACAC can.