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The Foundation Founders

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Ellen Chewning Libby Hoffman John Cook Pete Warren Gay Whitlock

VCAF Founding Members

Photo, from left to right:

(Names in Bold with an * are the founding members of the VCA Foundation. Brief BIOS linked below).

The First VCA Foundation Board (1991)

VCA Foundation Board 1991

John Cook Award
VCA Foundation
Emeritus Members
VCA Foundation Board 2014
Articles of Incorporation
Video Interview
with John Cook.
The Virginia Counselors Association Board of Directors established the VCA Foundation in May 1991. The Foundation was incorporated on July 31, 1991.  The Virginia Counselors Association is second only to California in establishing a state branch foundation. Dr. John Cook was supported by commitment of the Founding Directors of the Foundation, Ellen Chewning, Libby Hoffman, Pete Warren, and Gay Whitlock.

John Cook

Dr. John Cook has been an untiring advocate of the counseling profession in Virginia.  He was a charter member of the Richmond Guidance Association, the Virginia Counselors Association, and the American Counseling Association. He has played a pivotal role in creating the VCA Foundation and perpetuating its vision and purpose. Dr. Cook has been the driving force since its inception. He was the major initial contributor to the VCA Foundation.

John Cook, was a native of Crewe, Virginia, with deep roots in its educational institutions. He graduated from John Marshall High School, in Richmond and later returned as a teacher, a counselor, and lead counselor. Encouraged by a high school principal who thought guidance and counseling was "the heart and soul of the school", John Cook's love for his work as a counselor, and his deep care and concern for those he helped, earned him the reputation as a highly respected counselor to students as well as staff members. John's educational journey has been closely connected to Longwood University, where her earned a BS in English, a Masters in Education, and a Doctorate of Letters; at the University of Virginia, he earned his Certification as a Counselor. John's long-time affiliation with Longwood, resulted in a substantial endowment to the college, and Longwood named the Cook-Cole School of Arts and Sciences, in honor of Dr. John Cook and Dr. Waverly Cole, his long time partner.

John co-authored the original documents, which became the Federal legislation mandating elementary school counselors in the U.S. educational system. As a result, he was the co-recipient of the American Counseling Association Legislative Award in 1979, as well as his advocacy for Elementary School Counselors eventually made them a reality in Virginia. He has been called "the Father of Guidance and Counseling in Virginia".

A respected national leader in guidance and counseling, Dr. Cook served as the Supervisor of Guidance in the Virginia State Department of Education until his retirement in 1982. The VCA has named its annual presentation by the Convention Keynote in honor of Dr. John Cook. In addition, the VCA Foundation annually presents the John Cook Award to a counselor who has made substantial contributions to the counseling professions.

Dr. Cook died peacefully on December 24, 2013.

Ellen Chewning

Ellen Chewning was a founding member of the Virginia Counselors Association Foundation Board and received the John Cook Award from VCA in 1995. Ellen held degrees from Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia. She retired in 1986 from her position as Guidance Supervisor for Richmond Public School.
In retirement she remained active professionally and in civic endeavors. She was the recipient of many honors including serving as a delegate to the White House Commission on Children and Youth. In 2012, she was honored posthumously as a board member emerita of the Jobs for Virginia Graduates Board of Directors. Ellen served on the Henrico County School Board and was the first woman to serve on the J. Sargent Reynolds Community College Board. She was also the first woman to chair the Henrico Democratic Party. She was a Presidential Elector in the 2004 presidential election.

Ellen was president of the Virginia Personnel and Guidance Association (now VCA). She was one of the longest serving members on the Board of the Virginia Counselors Association, chairing a variety of committees and serving as a liaison with numerous education and counseling organizations.

She received the Humanitarian and Caring Person Award from VCA and from the Association for Non-white Concerns in Counseling , now American Association for Multicultural Counseling Issues in Counseling (AMCD).
Ellen was a member of the Richmond Urban Partnership in Education, president of the Richmond Urban League, member of the Board of the Daily Planet. Other honors included:

  • Distinguished Service Award, Virginia Education Association
  • Outstanding Citizen Award, Virginia Council on Social Welfare, Capitol Region
  • Life Membership Award, Virginia Congress of PTAs

Ellen died October 21, 2009.

Libby Hoffman

Dr. Libby Hoffman was a charter member of the Virginia Counselors Association Foundation Board. She was also past president of Virginia Counselors Association (VCA), Virginia School Counselor Association (VSCA), and Virginia Elementary School Counselors Association (VESCA). She received the John Cook Award in 1999.

Dr. Hoffman earned her bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University, her master’s degree from VCU, and doctorate from the University of Virginia.

Libby began her counseling career as an elementary school counselor at Bellevue Model School in Richmond Public Schools. She was a supervisor for Guidance Services at the elementary level at the Virginia Department of Education. She was a counselor educator at James Madison University and Virginia Tech, Northern Virginia campus. She wrote numerous professional journal articles and training manuals and presented nationally, regionally, and state wide.

Dr. Hoffman was a member of the steering committee for the Commission for Elementary School Guidance in Virginia and worked tirelessly for several decades to pass legislation to mandate elementary school counselors in all of the schools in the Commonwealth.
Libby was one of the founders of Richmond Meals on Wheels.

She died April 8, 2011.

Pete Warren

Dr. Pete Warren has had many years of VCA and Foundation involvement.  Pete was a Past-President of VCA, and guided VCA as its first Executive Director. He established the VCA office in Lynchburg, and hired its first paid employee, the Director of Membership Services. As the first Executive Director of VCA, he provided strong leadership, and he inspired and mentored many colleagues to become actively involved in VCA, as well as its Chapter and Divisions.

Pete was also a counselor educator, dean, and chaplain at Lynchburg College for many years.   He served in the military, is a minister and has been a chaplain, a city council member and served as mayor of Lynchburg. His many honors include but are not limited to: VCA John Cook Award ACA Humanitarian and Caring Person Award National Conference of Christians and Jews Humanitarian Award National Leadership Award from Chi Sigma Iota VCA Career Service Award and many more honors too numerous to mention  

He was married for 62 years to his wife Patsy. Among his many interests, he was an organic gardener, a golfer, and an avid Duke fan. 

Pete died on March 22, 2013

Gay Whitlock

Dr. Gay Whitlock, a charter member and former Vice President of the Virginia Counselors Association Foundation, served as Associate Dean of the VCU School of Education prior to her retirement. She received degrees from the College of William and Mary, University of Miami, Florida, and the University of Virginia.

During her distinguished career in education she was Supervisor for Guidance Services in Henrico County Public Schools; Assistant Professor, the University of Georgia; and Associate Professor at Virginia State University. She began her career as an elementary school teacher and was inspired to become a school counselor when she witnessed the devastation of a Navy family following s submarine accident.

Following retirement Dr. Whitlock served as Director of the Center for School-Community Collaboration and Interim Division Chair of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation at VCU. She was a member of the Richmond Community High School Advisory Council, the UVA Curry School of Education Foundation Board and former president of Alpha Alpha Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, International Society.

During the 1970s and 1980s she worked tirelessly to bring about legislation to mandate elementary school counselors in the Commonwealth. She was a founding member of the steering committee for the Commission on Elementary School Guidance in Virginia. She served as treasurer of the Virginia Counselors Association. She was the author of A Developmental Model for Guidance in Elementary Schools.

Dr. Whitlock died April 19, 2009.

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