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Melanie Rawlins, professor emeritus and former chair of the Western Illinois University Department of Counselor Education, recently received the Robert J. Nejedlo Distinguished Leadership Award from the Illinois Counseling Association.
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Faculty Emeritus Rawlins Receives IL Counseling Assn. Leadership Award

December 9, 2011

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – Melanie Rawlins (Macomb, IL), professor emeritus and former chair of the Western Illinois University Department of Counselor Education, recently received the Robert J. Nejedlo Distinguished Leadership Award from the Illinois Counseling Association (ICA). According to the ICA, the Distinguished Leadership Award was established to honor a person who exemplifies exceptional leadership in a number of leadership roles within chapters, divisions, state, regional, national and/or international professional counseling organizations. Rawlins accepted the award during the ICA's 63rd annual conference held in early November.

During her career, Rawlins has held numerous positions within the ICA, including various positions serving on the Governing Council (for more than 19 years); conference program committee co-chair; ICA president (2002); as well as on a number of task forces. She has been active with ICA divisions, including serving as president for the Illinois Association for Adult Development and Aging, as well as serving as president and treasurer of Illinois Counselor Educators and Supervisors. At the national level, Rawlins served as the chair of an American Counselor Educators and Supervisors interest network and served on the American Counseling Association awards committee.

One of Rawlins' nominators for the Robert J. Nejedlo Distinguished Leadership Award noted: "Her dedicated volunteer service spans…a 33-year period, and she has helped mentor countless…ICA members. Dr. Rawlins' dedication to leadership, commitment to mentoring and [devotion] to the profession of counseling is evident in her outstanding contributions to the profession…."

Another colleague said: "The character of [Dr. Melanie Rawlins], and her tireless efforts to promote counseling at the national, state and university levels, clearly demonstrates that she has earned the honor of being recognized for distinguished [leadership]. She has left a legacy in every arena [in which] she has participated by leaving it better…than when she arrived."

In addition to her work for the ICA, Rawlins has served as an on-site team member for the national counselor education accrediting organization, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). She has published in several refereed journals; authored a book chapter; and served as the co-editor of the ICA Quarterly, the forerunner to the ICA Journal. Rawlins is frequently a presenter at state, regional and national conferences, and she has presented internationally, as well.

A licensed psychologist and a licensed clinical professional counselor, Rawlins has provided counseling services in Illinois for 28 years. She has promoted professional counseling services at the state level in many ways. In one instance, she noted, as department chair, she addressed the shortage of Illinois school counselors by collaborating with the Education to Careers (ETC) program and training a cohort of 28 school counselors in a two-year time period (half the usual time).

As president of ICA, Rawlins led a task force that established a forward-moving strategic plan for the organization, which subsequently strengthened the structure of ICA. She also initiated and led a successful undertaking to create the full-time salaried position of executive director for ICA. Additionally, in 2005 Rawlins led a dedicated team to establish the Illinois Counseling Association Foundation, for which she is an active board officer.

Rawlins retired from Western Illinois University in 2006, after serving as the chair of Western's counselor education department from 1997. Prior to serving as the chair and a faculty member at WIU, Rawlins was a professor in the Eastern Illinois University Department of Educational Psychology and Guidance (1978-1997). She earned her Ph.D. and her master's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her bachelor's degree from Northwest Missouri State University.

For more information, contact Rawlins at (309) 837-4139 or via email at

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