COCA Executive Council 2018-2019


President-Marjorie C. Shavers, Ph.D, LPCC-S, PSC

Marjorie is an assistant professor and the Director of Graduate Studies in Counseling at Heidelberg University.  She has a Ph.D in Counselor Education from Ohio State University and is currently licensed as a licensed professional clinical counselor with supervision designation and a licensed professional school counselor.  Although she works at Heidelberg University, she lives and practices in Central Ohio.  She has worked as a mental health specialist in an agency setting, a college counseling center, and a public school district.  She is passionate about advocacy for the field of counseling, clients, and counselors.  In her role as a counselor educator, she has a unique opportunity to engage with beginning students, counselor trainees, site supervisors, practicing counselors, other counselor educators, and a variety of other stakeholders in mental health and the counseling profession.  She believes in a servant leadership model of leadership and is thrilled about the opportunity to serve as President of the Central Ohio Counseling Association.


President Elect – Melissa Watson, LPCC-S

Melissa Watson is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC-S) working in the central Ohio community at Keller Counseling and Associates. Melissa works with adults, children, adolescents, and couples to treat a number of concerns, including mood disorders, anxiety and stress, life transitions and relationship/family concerns. Melissa is specially trained to treat trauma related concerns in both adults and adolescents. She earned her Masters degree of Clinical Counseling at The Ohio State University. Melissa previously worked in the community as an outreach counselor for at-risk youth and young adults and has now been with Keller Counseling and Associates since 2015. She is excited to began her new role as President-Elect on the executive council of COCA. Her approach as a counselor is goal oriented, client centered and strength based with a focus on wellness. Melissa hopes to take a similar approach serving as a leader with COCA by helping connect professionals, providing guidance and identifying strategies to help enrich our professional community.


Past 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. 


Secretary – Vanessa Rebollar, LPC

I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio and received a B.A. in Psychology at The Ohio State University in 2014. After receiving my degree, I began my journey as a Mental Health Technician at Nationwide Children’s working with children, adolescents and families assisting with crisis management and trauma. I soon learned that I wanted to do more with children and families and therefore pursued my degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Dayton finishing in May of 2018. Although my professional counseling career has just begun, I have experience primarily working with adolescents and families struggling with eating disorders, anxiety, and depression using treatment interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy, gestalt therapy and mindfulness based practices. I am looking forward to becoming more involved with COCA to help network and develop my professional identity. In my free time, I enjoy playing video games, gardening and participating in any local festivals on the weekends!


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  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.


Outreach and Engagement 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. 


Outreach and Engagement Committee – 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.


Outreach and Engagement Committee – 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. 


Outreach and Engagement Committee- 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. 


Outreach and Engagement Committee – Claire Leisring-Buerk – LPC

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. 


Communications Committee Chair – Kimberly Bussell, M.A., LPC

Kim graduated with her Bachelors degree in Human Ecology from The Ohio State University in 2015. She went on to earn her Masters degree in Counselor Education from The Ohio State University in 2017. During that time, Kim gained experience working with children, families, and college students. Now, Kim is a Licensed Professional Counselor working for Directions for Youth and Families in the Outreach Counseling Program. She works with children and their families in home and school based settings. Much of her work is concentrated in trauma, mood disorders, self-esteem, grief/loss, and social skills.  She is excited for the opportunity to take on the Communications Chair position for COCA during her second year on the Executive Council, previously serving as the Social Media Coordinator. 

Communications Committee – Newsletter Author – Jeffrey Pharion, CT


Communications Committee – Social Media Coordinator – Abbie Ames, M.S., LPCC

Abbie has earned her Bachelors of Art Degree in Psychology at Miami University and her Masters of Science degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Walden University. Abbie enjoys working with a diverse group of individuals and has experience working with children, adolescents, adults, families, and couples. She has experience working with individuals with anxiety disorders, depression, relationship issues, communication issues, grief and loss, trauma, eating disorders, self-esteem, and body image issues. She utilizes an integrative approach and believes there is no such thing as “one size fits all” because each individual is unique in his or her personality, needs, and circumstances in life.  She works to provide a safe and secure environment to support clients while helping them meet their individual goals. Primarily, Abbie uses a CBT and a person-centered approach and believes it is important for the counselor and client to work together in order to make change. She is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and works with trauma. Abbie’s style is warm, compassionate, empathetic, and accepting of all individuals. 

Government Relations Representative – John Schmoll, LPC


Professional Development and Ethics/Supervision Event Coordinator – Sarah Gallagher, LPCC-S

Sarah Gallagher, currently serving as a clinician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in the Behavioral Health’s Eating Disorders Clinic, where she specializes with adolescents with eating disorders. She enjoys working with adolescents on improvement in self-esteem, exploration of self, and working through trauma in their past. Throughout her clinical work she encourages family involvement in treatment, which greatly impacts progress for adolescents with eating disorders. Sarah enjoys being a part of COCA to increase networking opportunities for the counseling profession to enhance professionally, as well as to better serve clients. She is looking forward to see COCA continue to evolve into a place for counselors to connect with one another.