American Counseling Association of
New York (ACA-NY)

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ACA NY 2018-2019 Elections

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Nannan Liu: Dr. Nannan Liu is the Downstate Chair of ACA-NY for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 years.  She is an experienced clinician with ten years of senior management and supervisory experience.  In her professional role, Dr. Liu is the Program Director of the OnTrackNY (First Episode Psychosis) Clinic at New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Medical Center.  She oversees the clinical and operational needs of her clinic, and provides clinical supervision to the entire treatment team.  In addition, she is involved in administrative responsibilities at the hospital, including managing program budget, hiring and management of staff, program development and working closely with federal and state stakeholders to ensure program fidelity, and on research initiatives.  Dr. Liu is passionate about advocating and promoting the Counseling profession, and has created many clinical training and employment opportunities for graduate students and mental health counselors in her clinic. She also enjoys volunteering in New York City public schools, and speaking to middle and high school students about the counseling profession, as well as providing free trainings on early detection of mental health concerns to students and parents. Dr. Liu is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a member of the American Counseling Association and the American Mental Health Counselors Association.  She received a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Columbia University and a doctoral degree in Counseling and Education from Johns Hopkins University. 

John Randall: My name is John Randall and I am asking for your vote for the position of ACA – NY President Elect. I was in the position of Upstate Chair for 2 years in the past and I want to take on more responsibility in this organization so I can do more to help advocate for our profession. I am currently a clinical supervisor at the Community Clinic of Jefferson County. I have worked as a counselor in multiple settings that include private practice and Fort Drum. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Credentialed Alcoholism And Substance Abuse Counselor, and EMDR Trained. My education includes graduating from the University of Maryland with my bachelor’s degree in Psychology and SUNY Oswego where I received my master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling in 2014. I retired after 27 plus years active duty in the Army in 2014 and stayed here near Fort Drum to work with Soldiers and their families. I completed the master’s Trauma Program at SUNY Oswego and my goal is to eventually work for the VA with veterans and their families (When we change the LMHC scope of practice). I worked at Credo Community Center in Watertown as an Integrated Treatment Therapist. Where I have over two years experience working with clients on their substance abuse issues and mental health issues together. I also specialized in the vocational field as the Vocational Rehabilitation Coordinator for CREDO covering Jefferson and Lewis County. I am passionate about getting the scope of practice changed for the counselors in our profession and I see that as my number one goal. Another goal of mine is to unite the NY counselors and build a network for students and professionals with ACA-NY being the center of that vision. I am convinced I can be an asset to ACA-NY and an advocate for the Counselors in New York if given the opportunity. Thank you.


Kellin Cavanaugh Kellin Cavanaugh is a third year doctoral student in Counselor Education at Syracuse University. Her leadership and scholarship strongly indicate her desire to further the greater counseling profession in a direction that emphasizes socially just practices, and the betterment of services for historically underserved populations. Kellin was the founding president of Counselors for Social Justice at Syracuse University, and under her presidency, the inaugural executive board was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Program award by CSJ. This honor was awarded because of Kellin’s leadership in creating a social justice poster symposium for students at Syracuse University and community stakeholders free of charge as a way to inspire others to get involved through current work related to social justice in the greater Syracuse community. In addition to Kellin’s work in establishing a CSJ Chapter at Syracuse University, Kellin recently served as Chi Sigma Upsilon’s executive committee secretary for the academic year of 2017-2018 at Syracuse University. It is Kellin’s hope to bring her ample experience as a servant leader at the university level to the state level for the continued benefit of ACA-NY and the important work that they do.

Downstate Region Representative

Nurys De La Cruz: Hello, my name is Nurys De La Cruz.  I am a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I received a M.A. and Ed.M. in mental health counseling from Columbia University.  Currently, I am the Primary Clinician at the OnTrackNY clinic at Columbia University Medical Center, where I work with adolescents and young adults experiencing an initial episode of psychosis. I also facilitate our clinic’s Spanish family psycho education groups, and provide culturally sensitive counseling and support to our monolingual and bilingual Spanish speaking clients and families.  Thank you very much for your consideration!

Western Region Representative

Carly Simmons

Upstate Region Representative

Daniel McManus: Daniel McManus, received his master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at SUNY Oswego in 2014 along with a certificate in trauma studies. Daniel entered the field of counseling with a focus towards helping those who have experienced setbacks due to trauma. He is currently finishing his PhD in Counselor Education & Supervision from Kent State University, he plans on proposing his dissertation this fall. He served as the vice president of Chi Sigma Iota during his master’s program and served as the co-chair of the professional development committee at the chapter at KSU. Currently Daniel teaches a variety of counseling courses at SUNY Oswego and is working on obtaining his NY LMHC. Daniel’s experience lies mostly in the realm of teaching and supervising counselors-in-training. He hopes to bring his experience as an educator into the community and work with local providers to create quality, professional development to members.

Legislative and Policy Chair

Sharon Bruner: I am currently a visiting assistant professor at Syracuse University and will be continuing into a tenure track line in August 2018.  I am originally from TN where I practiced for approximately five years prior to and while completing my PhD in Counselor Education.  I have worked in diverse contexts during my time in the field including jails, residential facilities, in-home, and in schools.  While in TN, I visited the state house and licensure board meetings multiple times to advocate for and against legislation that impacted counselors working in that state.  Many of the individuals I talked to had little awareness about counselors and thus had little understanding of how their votes might impact their communities.   These experiences taught me the importance of raising legislator awareness regarding the work that counselors do and how they can help communities. 

Graduate Student Representative

Crystal Chu-A-Kong: I am extremely interested in getting involved in the American Counseling Association of New York. More specifically, I am interested in fulfilling the duties of either the Graduate Student Chair or the Regional Chair. I am currently a Master’s graduate student in the Mental Health Counseling program at The City University of New York- Queens College. I am completing my practicum requirements at the Progressive Alternative Clinic Experience (PACE) outpatient program at Northwell Health-Zucker Hillside Hospital. My first year as a graduate student is coming to an end, and I would love to further my involvement in my professional field. I attended my first annual ACA conference last month in Atlanta, Georgia and had such a professionally enriching experience which inspired me to research local counseling opportunities. I attended the conference as a graduate student volunteer and was given the opportunity to network with fellow graduate students across the nation. These interactions enlightened me about different curriculums' and requirements of out of state programs in Mental Health Counseling. I was inspired to establish a commitment to the profession, outside of the requirements of my graduate program, to enhance my own experience and knowledge of the field. Serving as a board member of ACA-NY would provide me with the opportunity to be more connected with the mental health field and advocate for not only our clients but also the profession.

Cherelle Palmer: Cherelle Palmer is an innovative leader who has an unwavering commitment to the field of counseling. Cherelle is currently a graduate student in the Master of Mental Health and Wellness program at New York University. Cherelle also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from Pace University in addition to an Advanced Graduate Certificate of Public Health from New York University. Cherelle spent countless hours in service to others throughout her high school years, participating in Habitat for Humanity and creating a student club called S.T.A.N.D. (Students Taking Action Now for Dafur) to aid victims of genocide in Dafur.

As an undergraduate student, Cherelle continued her commitment to philanthropy by single-handedly establishing a chapter of a national service organization on her college campus. The organization afforded her the opportunity to work with various groups of underserved people across the lifespan. The majority of her work with the organization was done in a healthcare setting at community clinics and hospitals. These interactions taught her that one must always address the patient’s physical ailment along with their emotional, spiritual, and psychological well-being. This holistic approach to patient advocacy contributed to her decision to seek a career in the health sciences.

Cherelle is confident that the principles and ideals of the mental health counseling profession fit perfectly with her personal beliefs on how healthcare must be inclusive of the emotional well-being of each client population. Furthermore, she believes her decision to pursue this profession is both instinctive and deliberate. Her experiences in service as well as her own innate sense of empathy will contribute to a fulfilling career. Cherelle’s ultimate goal is to be a proponent of change in the field of mental health. In addition to creating a thriving private practice, she plans to devote her career to promoting the advancement of therapy as an accepted form of healthcare and the eradication of the social stigma it carries. Cherelle plans to achieve this through integrating mental health awareness into educational programs and campaigns in all socio-economic strata. At the moment, she envisions the vast majority of her career focusing on advocacy work within non-profit and non-governmental organizations. Cherelle’s goal is to secure positions where her main role is to elicit political action using methods such as civil education and public campaigns to enact policy changes on Capitol Hill.

If selected as the Graduate Student Chair, I will work to ensure that the most pertinent concerns and needs of the graduate level counseling students of New York are properly addressed. I believe that will foster unity and progress within our membership. A large part of my focus will lie in vigorously advocating for counseling students in the state in order to ensure that we all have a successful educational experience and are prepared for a smooth transition into the workforce. In addition, I will work on sponsoring a series of cutting edge workshops, forums, and panel discussions to help foster professional development for practicing counselors and academics alike. I believe my decision to pursue this position is both instinctive and deliberate, and that my experiences as a graduate student will contribute to a fulfilling career as a leader of change in this field. I firmly believe that my tenacity, compassion, and propensity for approaching life holistically will enable me to become an empathetic Graduate Student Chair. In addition, I believe that my commitment to serving my community combined with my enthusiasm for the counseling field will truly aid in my resolve to serve comprehensively and effectively.

Anastasia Przbyla: My name is Anastasia Przybyla. I am in my second year of my Clinical Mental Health graduate program at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and I reside in Watertown, New York. I maintain a 3.95 GPA, and am studying abroad with my school to Switzerland very soon to learn further about addiction. I have received honorable mention from the American Counseling Association in their School Counselors Essay Competition, and have received several scholarships over the course of my schooling. I am very active within my community by running a 'Share the Love' host site, as well as, a 'Field Goods' host site. Share the Love gives families in need the ability to cloth diaper their babies at no charge to them. We loan them diapers to take that burden off of them. With Field Goods, we provide farm fresh local vegetables and produce to the local area for reasonable prices. I am planning on moving forward with my Ph.D after I receive my Masters, to continue to learn further about counseling, and everything that surrounds it. I am extremely interested in the graduate student chair position, and the ability to represent interests and concerns of counseling graduate students and new counseling professionals in New York state. I believe that I hold the competency to maintain a database with contact information for all NYS counseling programs as well. 

Peter Stieglamayr: Peter Stieglmayr is a Program Coordinator with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Additionally, Peter is a full-time graduate student in the Master of Arts in a Pastoral Counseling program at Fordham University, which will lead to licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. He is anticipating graduating in 2020 and continue his studies within the PhD. program in Counseling Psychology. Recently, he was honorably mentioned at the 2018 American Counseling Association’s conference for his graduate student essay on the current opioid crisis. Peter’s clinical interests include working with those suffering from addictions, post-traumatic stress disorders, and generalized anxiety disorders. Peter also aspires to work within an academic setting, and contribute to the field of counseling through his involvement within the American Counseling Association.

Peitao Zhu: Peitao Zhu is a current doctoral student in counseling and counselor education at Syracuse University. An international student from Shanghai, China, Peitao came to the U.S. in 2014 and obtained his M.A. in Mental Health Counseling and Behavioral Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine in 2016. Peitao is a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and a Permitted Mental Health Counselor in the state of New York. Having benefitted from interacting with many impactful individuals through his educational experience, Peitao firmly believes in the power of human connections in facilitating growth. Thus, he would like to utilize the opportunity of being the Graduate Student Chair to serve as an advocate and liaison for students within the New York chapter of the American Counseling Association (ACA NY). Furthermore, Peitao’s background as an international student has given him a unique perspective of recognizing and understanding the distinct needs of underrepresented and marginalized groups. Peitao is dedicated to contributing to an inclusive and empowering graduate student community that honors a variety of needs.

Passionate about connecting with fellow graduate students, Peitao recently started to serve a two-year term as a graduate student representative of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision North Atlantic Region (NARACES). Within this role, Peitao is responsible for holding monthly conference calls for graduate student to discuss their questions and concerns in the counselor trainings programs, and co-editing a bi-annual newsletter, The Graduate Gazette, specifically for graduate students to share their voices and experiences. The newest issue, themed Transitions, was distributed to NARACES members in April and has gained positive recognition. In addition, Peitao is planning for a Graduate Student Lounge event in the upcoming 2018 NARACES meeting, in which students will be invited to interact with a panel of pre-tenured faculty and new professionals regarding professional development and career trajectory. With his role in NARACES, Peitao is well positioned to serve as the Graduate Student Chair, as he will be able to consolidate and coordinate resources in both organizations and make concerted efforts to support graduate students in the state of New York.

Peitao also has extensive experience in professional service, student service, and leadership. He has been selected as proposal reviewers, grant reviewers and conference volunteers for a variety of national and international conferences in the past several years. He currently co-manages two internally-funded ($40,000 in total) mentoring support programs for international students at Syracuse University. Before he came to the U.S., Peitao was also a student advisor for four years at Fudan University, his alma mater, and engaged in academic advising, administrative support, extra-curricular activity planning, and wellness education for more than 100 undergraduate students per year. These experiences have prepared Peitao for the Graduate Student Chair which requires strong leadership and organizational skills and great attention to details.

Lastly, Peitao is a successful graduate student himself. Since he began his doctoral program in Fall 2016, Peitao has maintained a GPA of 4.0, published a single-authored manuscript in a competitive peer-reviewed academic journal, and delivered 12 professional presentations on national and international levels (including 5 accepted ones later this year), while maintaining a 15-hour weekly clinical schedule at a community mental health facility. He is currently engaging in a collaborative research project with two of his faculty members. With his successful experiences in both academic and clinical settings, Peitao will be able to provide support for a variety of students and new professionals that might benefit from having a stronger connection with ACA NY.