Executive Council 2017-2018
The Central Ohio Counseling Association Executive Council exists to enrich the experience of Ohio Counseling Association. We offer support with tools and resources, information, Continuing Education, and advocacy on behalf of Counselors, School Counselors, and those entering the profession. We are the local/regional arm of the OCA.. To learn more about COCA’s purpose and procedures, you may review our organizational by-laws here.
President – Krista Predragovich, LPCC-S
I earned a Master’s degree from Temple University, then an Educational Specialist degree from Cleveland State University, and am presently a Doctoral Candidate in Counselor Education at (The) Ohio State University. My research interests are in the areas of counselor professional development and career persistence, creative and experiential approaches to clinical supervision and pedagogy, and applying character strengths to counseling and supervision. I received the Ohio Association for Counselor Education & Supervision Mentor of the Year award in 2015, and was selected as Ohio State’s Outstanding Doctoral Student in Clinical Counseling in 2014 and 2017. As a practicing clinical counselor, supervisor, and (hopefully) future counselor educator, it is so important to me to create opportunities for community within our profession. For me, this happens first on the local level. Professional identity is strengthened by connection and the relationships formed with colleagues and mentors, and I believe COCA is tasked with creating sustainable networks that expand beyond a work site or an alumni group. Central Ohio has the potential to be an area where counselors thrive, and this requires thoughtful leadership and clearly articulated goals. I would like to continue the progress that has been made under the past two presidents, and introduce new initiatives to further grow and strengthen the organization. Truly, I have been looking for my leadership niche for the past several years, and I believe I have found a good match with COCA.
Past President – Laura Lewis, M.A., LPCC-S
Laura Lewis is a full-time therapist at Capital University in Bexley, OH in the Center for Health and Wellness where she does individual and group counseling with college students; designs wellness outreach programs and training opportunities for students, staff and faculty; and provides clinical supervision for two clinical counseling graduate trainees completing their internship. She also owns a part-time private practice in Upper Arlington, OH where she specializes in individual therapy with adolescents, college students, couples, and adults. In addition, Laura enjoys consulting and presenting on a variety of mental health topics for local schools and churches. Laura was president-elect (2015-2016) and president of COCA (2016-2017). As the new past president Laura is excited to continue to support OCA by focusing on COCA leadership development and recruitment as well as any other duties assigned by the President. She envisions continued membership growth and community building across the COCA region, ongoing professional learning, and increased legislative advocacy opportunities.
Secretary – Claire Leisring-Buerk – LPC
Claire Leisring-Buerk: I was raised in Cincinnati before earning a B.A. from the University of Dayton in 2007, and M.A. in Counselor Education from The Ohio State University in 2010. Before and during school, I served in many instructional and counseling roles with children and adolescents. However, as a professional counselor my work has been primarily with adults struggling with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, personality and mood disorders, and issues related to relationships and life transition. I believe every individual possesses his or her own talents and abilities that, when coupled with effective decision making, result in a healthy and fulfilling life. With that in mind, I primarily use a strengths-based style of counseling, along with elements of cognitive-behavioral and reality therapies. When I am not counseling, I enjoy hiking, coffee drinking, reading, cooking, and time spent relaxing with family.
Treasurer – Kenneth Smith, M.S., MA, LPC
Ken is proud to be team member of Spirit of Peace Clinical Counseling and maintains a personal professional website at Kentherapy.com. His practice focuses on a variety of issues, but specialties include helping adult Autism/Asperger’s/Nerds, treating shame/guilt, complex mental health challenges, and deep religious/existentialist issues. Ken currently has articles in press in the understanding and treatment of adult personality features of Autism, Asperger’s, and Nerds. Ken’s focus modalities are DBT, Logo, and REBT. He enjoys speaking and teaching. Academically, he holds a B.S.Agr. in Animal Science, a B.A. in History, a M.S. in Animal Welfare/Behavioral Psychology, and a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Following the likes of Temple Grandin, Ken is also an expert/consultant in animal behavior, welfare, and slaughter houses. Ken has consulted/reviewed in over 400 businesses in over 50 US states and Canadian provinces.
Ken supports the COCA especially in its work to connect counseling professionals with each other. Isolation in the counseling field is a major issue, and COCA is focused on helping members with self-care and professional support. Working on the executive council of COCA would allow Ken to be more involved in helping other professionals and the challenges they face.Ken would be honored to be treasurer for the COCA. His extensive business experience gives him the skills and discipline to be effective in management of the fiscal resources of the COCA. Ken understands that managing money for an organization is an important and meaningful way of being helpful to others in the counseling profession.
Membership Committee Chair – Sandy Deas, LPCC
Sandy Deas is owner and counselor at Safe Haven Counseling, LLC in Hilliard. I have been in private practice for 6 years working with children, adolescents, individuals and couples. My other counseling experiences including a college counseling center, a church setting and an EAP. I am certified in EMDR counseling and am pursuing more specialized training in marriage counseling. Outside of my counseling life I love time with my grown children and friends, gardening, reading and swimming.
Membership Committee – Private Practice Liaison – Max Lencl, LPCC, CDCA
My name is Max Lencl and I am a clinical counselor with a private practice in Worthington, Ohio and I am your private practice liaison. Specializing in therapy with adult individuals and couples who face grief, trauma, and sexual concerns has reinforced the importance of knowing resources in the community. Knowing other community counselors, health professionals, and private practice counselors is important for me to ensure I can present my clients with reliable varieties of help, should they choose to pursue them. The networking, self-care, and professional development offered by COCA are resources that I want to be a part of in order to keep expanding our support net for ourselves and our clients. Two professional experiences that I believe have developed these interests are leading a suicide prevention coalition and building my private practice. I enjoy working as a team and the creative complexity of meeting the needs of a community. The experience I bring includes: trauma-informed therapy, CBT, mindfulness, brain-based therapy, clinical trainings for counselors, sex therapy, and a love for guitar and bulldogs. I am looking forward to learning from you.
Membership Committee – School Counselor Liaison – Danny Morales, LPC, Licensed School Counselor
I’m Danny Morales and I’ll be serving as School Counseling Liaison for my first experience on the COCA executive council. Excited to be involved in outreach with fellow school counselors this year and for the opportunity to be a member of this counseling leadership organization! I completed my Master’s in Mental Health Counseling at The Ohio State University in May 2015, and also finished up my School Counseling Certification through OSU in May 2016. I’m looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead in the profession as a dually licensed counselor. I gained invaluable experience working at Gahanna Lincoln High School as a Mental Health Specialist last year. Thankful to be continuing my work in the schools and supporting students this coming fall as a Behavioral Specialist in the Canal Winchester district.
Membership Committee – College/University Liaison – Ryan Wilhelm, M.A., LPC
Ryan Wilhelm, M.A., LPC, is a Career Counselor at Ohio State University’s Career Counseling and Support Services. Ryan has worked at CCSS for 7 years beginning as a graduate assistant in the office. He received his Master’s in Counselor Education from Ohio State and his Bachelor’s from Bowling Green State University with a dual degree of Political Science and Public Relations. As a counselor in training Ryan completed his internship at Ohio Dominican University. In addition to his role with COCA Ryan is the Treasurer for the Ohio Career Development Association. In the past he has served as President, President-elect, Past-President, Government Relations Chair, Membership Chair, Nominations Chair and Newsletter Chair for OCDA. At CCS Ryan provides holistic individual counseling with students from all majors and grade levels who are struggling with their navigation of the career development process. He primarily uses elements of cognitive-behavioral and person centered theories combined with career theories of chaos, happenstance and narrative. When he is not counseling he enjoys running and is in the process of training for the Columbus Marathon, playing volleyball, fantasy football and traveling.
Membership Committee – Graduate Student Liaison – April Cunningham, M.A. LPCC
My name is April Cunningham, LPCC. I own a private practice in Clintonville called Inner Compass Counseling. I practice from a holistic/wellness model of counseling. I work with mindfulness, meditation and breathing practices, as well as other experiential techniques. I primarily work with couples and individuals with anxiety, depression and trauma issues, as well as college students and LGBTQ folks. I am interested in either the private practice or graduate school liaison positions of COCA EC. I’d like to help to continue to build a community among fellow practitioners to share knowledge and support, as well as to advocate for our profession on a regional, state and national level. I’d love to work to continue building interest and membership in our organization, and to develop networking and professional opportunities for us. I’m excited by the prospect of collaborating with other professionals in these efforts.
Membership Committee -Community Agency Liaison – Danielle Winters, MPA, CT
Danielle is currently working on her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Dayton – Dublin, and also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master of Public Administration from Bowling Green State University. She is passionate about working with children and adolescents and is interning at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in the Adolescent Mood and Anxiety Program. Danielle’s passion for involving counselors in their own advocacy organizations led her to become involved with membership activities for COCA. She is also the co-president of the Upsilon Delta chapter of Chi Sigma Iota and is a member of the Ohio Counseling Association’s Government Relations Committee. It is especially important to Danielle that her own fellow students recognize how important organizations like COCA are for their future, and her goal is to show students and seasoned professionals alike why COCA is an amazing place for them to network, learn, and grow as counselors.
Communications Committee Chair – Amanda Niedermeyer, M.S. Ed, LPCC-S
Amanda received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the Ohio State University and began working as a victim advocate for a nonprofit organization where she developed an interest in psychology and mental health. She then studied clinical mental health counseling at the University of Dayton, earning her master’s degree in 2012. Amanda serves as a counselor and clinical supervisor at Mid-Ohio Psychological Services, Inc., where she works with children, adolescents, adults, and families for assessment and treatment of mental health issues. She works with a wide range of clients, including those referred for trauma, parenting education, substance abuse, and anger management. She also supervises clinical interns in their growth toward becoming licensed professional counselors at the agency. Amanda enjoys working in the community setting and is passionate about psychological assessment and community outreach. Amanda was new to COCA during the 2016-2017 year and has enjoyed being a part of the communications committee through social media and newsletter outlets. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, traveling, and cooking and eating good food.
Communications Committee – Newsletter Author – Kara Bradley, M.A.
My name is Kara Bradley and I am a recent graduate of the Master of Arts Counselor Education program at The Ohio State University with a specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and English from the University of Missouri. I am interested in COCA for a couple different reasons. I want to become involved in the community of counselors in the Central Ohio area. Community is very important to me and I believe becoming a part of COCA will allow me to be a part of a community of counselors that want to help the counseling profession grow. I also hope to continue to develop my own professional identity as a counselor. I believe COCA would be a wonderful environment for me to develop as a counselor and become involved in the counseling community. I am interested in two different positions in COCA. One of those positions is the Newsletter Writer Editor. In my undergraduate career I decided to major in English in addition to psychology because I loved to read and write. I would love to be the Newsletter Writer Editor so I can combine my love of writing and reading with my love of reaching out to the counseling community with COCA’s newsletter. Another position I believe I would really enjoy is Graduate Student Liaison. Being a recent graduate, I believe I have good insight into how to make COCA meaningful for graduate students. I would also enjoy this position because this position would focus on connecting the graduate school community to other professionals and COCA. I believe creating connects between growing professionals and experienced professionals is important to help grow our counseling community.
Communications Committee – Social Media Coordinator – Kimberly Bussell, M.A.
My name is Kim Bussell and I’m a 2017 graduate from the Counselor Education program at The Ohio State University. I completed my internship at Ohio Dominican University where I engaged in individual counseling with college students to address a variety of challenges and promote wellness. I am currently seeking licensure and applying for positions in community and hospital based mental health in Columbus. As a recent graduate, I am eager to become involved in the profession and further my identity and experiences as a counselor. I believe serving as a COCA Executive Council member would be an excellent opportunity to do so. As Social Media Coordinator, I believe that I can help COCA gain media presence to educate and engage members and the community on relevant topics, events, research, and outreach related to the counseling field. I have experience utilizing various social media platforms and using Hootsuite as an effective way to maintain social media presence. I look forward to being an active member of COCA and hope to serve as your Social Media Coordinator for the 2017-2018 term.
Government Relations Representative – Nancy Dusthimer, M.S. Ed, LPC
Nancy Dusthimer is a doctoral student in Counselor Education and Supervision at Liberty University and a part-time therapist at Syntero in Dublin, Ohio, where she does individual and group work with adults. Nancy enjoys co-leading a DBT group and participating in the agency CEU committee. She has completed an externship in Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples and is pursuing certification in this empirically supported treatment. Nancy is also a licensed social work, having been grandparented in with a related degree, which she used for 22 years working with older adults. Her current dissertation is a qualitative study of the mental health needs of offspring caregivers of persons with dementia. Her dual licensures and experience with older persons have led to a passion to promote the counseling profession and recognition of the need for Medicare reimbursement for counselors, fueling her interest in being the COCA Representative for OCA Government Relations.
Professional Development and Ethics/Supervision Event Coordinator – Sarah Baran, LPCC-S
Wellness Workshop Coordinator – Sarah Geiger, Licensed School Counselor
I’m currently a junior high school counselor in Pickerington Local School District as well as a doctoral student in The Ohio State University’s Counselor Education program. I use person-centered counseling and a strengths-based approach to help students overcome barriers to education. I provide proactive and responsive services delivered through school-wide initiatives, developmental classroom lessons, and small group and individual counseling in the academic, career, and personal/social domains. Aligning with the ASCA National Model, I use data-driven practices and evidence-based interventions to support students as they work to reach their goals. Collaborating with parents, teachers, administration, and those in the community including mental health counselors is paramount to helping children reach their goals. I’m excited to continue this collaboration on COCA’s Executive Council as the Wellness Retreat Coordinator.