Martin Ritchie Award for Excellence in Advocacy

Award Background and Purpose

CACREP Chair Sylvia Fernandez, Martin Ritchie, and CACREP President and CEO Carol Bobby at the award presentation at NCACES 2014.
CACREP Chair Sylvia Fernandez, Martin Ritchie, and CACREP President and CEO Carol Bobby at the award presentation at NCACES 2014

Since 1981, the driving force behind CACREP has been professional volunteers. Counselor educators, practitioners, and other professional leaders have dedicated countless hours to strengthen the counseling profession by way of developing high standards, contributing to the quality assurance of counseling programs, and engaging in advocacy on behalf of the profession. Some of these leaders have gone and continue to go above and beyond what is commonplace for CACREP volunteers and advocates, acting as catalysts for change and assisting the counseling profession in achieving many milestones such as state licensure and federal recognition of counselors. The CACREP Award for Excellence in Advocacy was created to formally honor these professional leaders and is named after its inaugural recipient, Dr. Martin Ritchie.

CACREP’s Martin Ritchie Award for Excellence in Advocacy recognizes individuals who engage in superlative advocacy efforts on behalf of CACREP and its vision, mission, and values, which ultimately serve to advance the counseling profession through quality and excellence in counselor education.


 2021 Recipient

Dr. Barry Mascari
Kean University

Dr. Mascari was a known force in the Counseling profession and a strong advocate for the practice and professionalization of Counseling. It was a tremendous loss for all in the profession when Dr. Mascari succumbed to complications from Covid-19 on May 18th 2020. Dr. Mascari as faculty in and Chair of the Department of Counselor Education, taught and mentored generations of students in school counseling, family counseling, addictions counseling and disaster mental health counseling. His passion as an educator was experienced both here in the United States and abroad. Dr. Mascari’s advocacy for the Counseling profession was evident in his push for licensure at the state-level, notably in New Jersey, and through his work with the American Association of State Counseling Boards. During his term as President of AASCB, he was instrumental in initiating the multi-year, multi-organization initiative 20/20: A Vision for the Future of Counseling. He also served in numerous other leadership positions throughout his career all of which were focused on elevating and unifying the profession of Counseling, to include: chair of the New Jersey Licensing board, and President of both the NJ Counseling Association and the NJ Mental Health Counselors Association. Dr. J. Barry Mascari exemplified activism as a counselor educator and his actions supported his impassioned dedication to the counseling profession.

 2019 Recipient

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Dr. Louisa Foss-Kelly
Southern Connecticut State University

Dr. Foss has been a counselor educator for 13 years in CACREP accredited institutions. She maintains the highest professional training standards for her students and recognizes the crucial need for advocacy within our profession. Dr. Foss-Kelly sought opportunity to instill such values in her students through the founding of her department’s Chi Sigma Iota Counseling Academic and Professional Honor society (CSI), a chapter which has grown under her advisement since it’s initiation in 2014. Most notably, Dr. Foss-Kelly personifies strength in professional advocacy through state legislative efforts. As a member of the CCA’s Public Policy and Legislation Committee and most recently chair (2014-2019) of this committee, Dr. Foss-Kelly spearheaded the state’s legislative initiative, with SB 903, An Act Concerning Educational and Training Standards for Professional Counselors. This bill was passed by the Connecticut General Assembly in June, 2017. The law reiterates the importance of the CACREP training standards as gold standards for counselor training. In fact, it assures that core training areas are verified in order to become licensed as a mental health counselor in Connecticut. This past year, Dr. Foss-Kelly continued her work, leading and contributing to state HB 7132, An Act Concerning Licensure of Professional Counseling Associates and Marital Family Therapy Associates. This law provides two tiers of licensure, the LPC-Associate at the first tier and the Licensed Professional Counselor as the independent practice license. This bill has passed in the House of Representatives and the Senate and was signed into Law in Connecticut effective October 1, 2019. Dr. Louisa Foss-Kelly exemplifies activism as a counselor educator and her actions support her impassioned dedication to the counseling profession.

 2017 Recipient

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Dr. Brandon Wilde 
Arizona State University

Dr. Brandon Wilde has demonstrated a commitment to the counseling profession through many advocacy activities particularly in his home state of Utah.  As the former Chair of Utah’s only CACREP-accredited program he worked tirelessly to emphasize the importance of accreditation in all of his work.  Whether he is chairing a CACREP site visit, discussing the qualifications of CACREP graduates with clinical director of the Salt Lake City VA, or defending the position of mental health counselors in the Utah licensure requirements, Dr. Wilde has show his commitment to advocating for counselor education and the counseling profession.  Spoken of highly by his colleagues, one counselor educator wrote,

“Dr. Wilde has worked tirelessly to not only ensure accuracy and integrity, but also to educate and coach faculty, staff, and administration on the accreditation process. Everyone who has had the pleasure of working with Dr. Wilde throughout this process has likely come away with better knowledge and understanding of CACREP’s vision, values, and importance.”

 2016 Recipient

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Dr. Victoria Kress
Youngstown State University

Dr. Victoria Kress has demonstrated superb leadership and excellence in advocacy through many activities across many platforms. She is an academic; she is a passionate hands-on doer, motivator, and energizer who has been deeply involved in grassroots efforts to raise the bar for counseling licensure. Her home state of Ohio became the first state to adopt a CACREP degree requirement for licensure, marking a historical shift in our licensure history that has set the stage for other states to follow. Her volunteer service and leadership roles span local, state, and national professional counseling organizations. She is also working as an accreditation consultant supporting the growth of the profession internationally. Spoken of highly by her colleagues, one counselor educator wrote,

“Dr. Kress was a critical ally in North Carolina when legislation was recently proposed that threatened to weaken the educational standards for counseling licensure in that state. During the seven months that Senate Bill 279 swiftly moved through both state chambers, Dr. Kress generously gave of her time to provide both education about legislative processes and support for the significant efforts involved in these actions. She significantly contributed to North Carolina becoming the second state to require graduation from a CACREP program for counselor licensure.”

2015 Recipient

Dr. Gerard Lawson
Virginia Tech


Dr. Lawson has served as a trailblazer and constant advocate through his leadership positions within ACA, 20/20, his state counseling association, and even his university. He is a past-president of ACES and has most recently been leading the charge to strengthen the educational requirements for counselor licensure in the state of Virginia. A fellow counselor educator commented on Dr. Lawson’s leadership,

“In each of [his leadership] positions, Dr. Lawson has effectively advocated for positions that would strengthen our professional identity and that were consistent with the CACREP’s mission. He has become one of the most recognizable and recognized leaders in our profession today and he consistently advocates for the positions that make our profession stronger.”

2014 Recipient

Martin Ritchie
Dr. Martin Ritchie
Inaugural Recipient

Dr. Martin Ritchie is the inaugural recipient for the new CACREP Award for Excellence in Advocacy. As a doctoral student in the late 70s, he was on the front lines in Virginia working with Bill Van Hoose in conducting legal research on counselor licensure, insurance reimbursement and professional development issues. The title of his dissertation was, “The Professional Status of Counseling” – a title which reflects a recurring theme for his work in advancing the profession over the next four decades.

He retired in 2013 after 35 years as a counselor educator. During his career he served as president of the Ohio Counseling Association, Ohio ACES, and the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors which he co-founded. He was Editor of Counselor Education and Supervision, and a member of the CACREP Board of Directors where he also served as Chair. He is a Fellow of the American Counseling Association and a Lifetime Member of Chi Sigma Iota. One highlight among his many contributions to the profession was seeing his efforts come to fruition this year in the State of Ohio, which became first state to adopt a CACREP requirement for counselor licensure. His actions serve as an example of a strong commitment to advancing recognition of the counseling profession through the development of not only counselor licensure, but also strong and unified standards in counselor preparation.