About Us


The High School Counselors' Association of Western New York (HSCA-WNY) is a non-profit dynamic professional organization that has officially served local Western New York School Counselors and school districts since 1983. 

Formerly known as the Western New York Suburban Counselors' Consortium (WNYSCC), the HSCA-WNY was formed to help high school counselors make the most effective use of their skills and talents in their service to students, parents, school personnel, and the community.

Active members of this organization participate in monthly professional development and training in the many areas of school counseling, which are designed to promote greater personal and professional growth. Members and schools districts work collaboratively to plan monthly professional development for high school counselors and staff with the goal of improving the overall school counseling profession in Western New York. 

The HSCA-WNY serves nearly 200 school counselors and over 60 schools in the Western New York Region. The HSCA-WNY membership is primarily comprised of practicing high school counselors serving grades 9-12. In addition, select Higher Education faculty and staff maintain membership within the organization. Both public and private schools are represented.

In addition, several members of the HSCA-WNY serve in key leaderships positions in numerous local, state, and national organizations such as the Buffalo National College Fair (a program of NACAC, the National Association for College Admission Counseling), the Niagara Frontier Industry Education Council (NFIEC) Career Fair, and New York State Association for College Admission Counseling (NYSACAC).



During the early 1980's, there was no organized, professional organization of high school counselors in the WNY region. A chapter of the New York State Personnel and Guidance Association known as the WNYPGA existed, but meetings were in the evening and few high school counselors were members. There were several regional groups of counselors who met regularly centered on common local interests. Some examples of these groups included Maryvale, Depew and Cheektowaga high schools, who were instrumental in starting the original NFIEC Career Fair, and the Southern Erie County Counselors' Association who ran a fall college fair each year. 

In 1982 Robert Gourlay, a School Counselor at Clarence High School, approached his friend, neighbor and colleague, Carl (Sandy) Behrend, who was a counselor at Orchard Park High School, with the idea of starting a high school counselor group that would meet during school hours and represent suburban schools with similar interests. The name, Suburban Counselor's Consortium, was chosen to identify the group. With Gourlay and Behrend, the original seven founding members of the organization also included: Joan Baer (Williamsville South), John Daken (Sweet Home High School), Robert Ciszak (Akron High School), Michael Smith (Tonawanda High School) and Martin Goodrich (Kenmore East High School).

After several initial organizational meetings, in late 1982, the group decided to begin meeting in September 1983 the following agreements were approved: 

  • Bob Gourlay was elected as the first President and would serve a two year term. 
  • The goal of the  Suburban Counselor's Consortium was to promote professional development for all counselors in member schools. 
  • The group would meet once a month during the school day (Fridays) at a different member's building. 
  • A grass roots, pertinent topic agenda would be created in September for the rest of the year with members volunteering to coordinate the meeting and the topic. The host building would also provide refreshments and invite their Principal to the meeting for a welcome. 
  • Each high school could bring as many counselors as they wanted to but at least one counselor from each school would attend each meeting. To gain support for this endeavor, Bob Gourlay and Sandy Behrend attended a meeting of the Erie County Principal's Association to seek their approval of the concept of creating the SCC (Suburban Counselor's Consortium) and holding our meetings during the school day. They liked and supported our proposal. 

Over the course of the next 25 years, the Suburban Counselor's Consortium has provided professional development and networking for scores of high school counselors. A sub-group of the Consortium spearheaded a local spring college fair program for more than 20 years prior to joining the NACAC National College Fair family in 2004. Meeting topics have covered a wide range of professional development, problems and information sharing. Gradually more public high schools from all over Erie County became members and eventually private schools counselors joined us as well. We began to collect minimal dues to assist students and recognize our colleagues who retire or are ill. An annual joint meeting with the Niagara County Counselors' Association (NOCA) was established. Guests over the years have included local service provider referral organizations, area principals, superintendents, and state education officials. 

The name of the organization was changed to the WNY Suburban Counselors Consortium to reflect our broader membership. Growth in size led to the addition of positions like treasurer, secretary and membership chair with Past Presidents serving as a nominating committee. An annual June meeting at a local restaurant was added to provide a social networking opportunity in addition to being able to recognize members. As our group evolved further the name was again changed to better reflect our growing and changing membership. In 2001 our official name became the High School Counselors' Association of Western New York.

The future of the High School Counselors' Association of Western New York is bright. A solid membership base and ever changing professional needs will ensure that the original goals and vision of the founders will be fulfilled for many years to come.


Historical and Current Leadership