Reflecting on our Journey

Written by Shawn Mai, ACPE Board Chair


Dear Members of the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education,

As my tenure as Chair of the Board comes to a close, I want to take a moment to reflect on the incredible journey we have embarked on together. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve this organization and witness the profound impact it has on the field of spiritual care and education.

Over the past year, we found ourselves in a time of transition. At the beginning of the year, we began a search for a new executive director and continued to chart a course for our association’s work over the next years in a strategic planning process. Both processes have moved along well and will most likely wrap up in early 2024.  During this time, our commitment to excellence in the training of educators and spiritually integrated psychotherapists, accreditation of centers, and identity as the gold standard of spiritual care education has guided us. The volunteer driven work of this organization is astonishing.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my role has been seeing the incredible dedication and passion of our members. Each of you brings a unique perspective and expertise to the table, enriching our collective knowledge and understanding of spiritual care and education. It is through your unwavering commitment to the well-being of others that we have been able to make a lasting impact on this world.

I am also incredibly proud of the strides we have made in advancing diversity and inclusivity within our organization, though our work is far from complete. By embracing a wide range of perspectives and experiences, we continue to work toward a more vibrant and dynamic community that is better equipped to meet the diverse needs of those we serve.

On a personal note, I leave this role as a different leader than when I began. Learning that we would not be moving into a professional consolidation with the Association of Professional Chaplains, a shift in our executive leadership, coming out of a pandemic and recognizing the deep wounds of disconnection, the reflection demanded by our diversity, equity and inclusion work, the needed changes in our US Department of Education work with student achievement, shifts in our national staff, and the collective stress on the association required an internal shift from my Enneagram 3 doer self to a deeper reflective and respectful listening.  At times, it felt like an extended certification process. As we all know in our professional development as an educator or psychotherapist integrative work demands.

My gratitude for the collective leadership in this organization with chairs, co-chairs of commissions and committees, Robin Brown-Haithco as our interim executive director, the national staff, Cecelia Walker and Jonathan Ball (the executive committee of the board), the Board, and each of you as members runs deep.  I am also grateful to my family (a special shout out to my husband Chuck), friends, and the generous leadership and colleagues at Park Nicollet (my employer) who have patiently given me the time and space to do the work of ACPE.

As I pass the torch to Cecelia Walker, I am confident that the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education will continue to thrive and evolve. The deep devotion and commitment to excellence is unwavering. I encourage each of you to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible, to seek out new opportunities for growth and learning, and to always prioritize the well-being of those we serve.

In closing, I want to express my deepest gratitude to every one of you. It has been an honor to serve as your Chair, and I am humbled by the incredible work you do every day. Together, we have strengthened the bond of community and made a lasting impact on the field of spiritual care and education. Now, more than ever, globally and locally our world needs what we have to offer.  Let us continue to foster this work and movement. I look forward to seeing the continued growth and success of ACPE.


Holiday Blessings and Deep Gratitude and Love,


Shawn Mai