Roots of the National Career Development Association #1

By Rich Feller, President (2012-2013) National Career Development Association

With much anticipation, NCDA enters its centennial year. Founded in 1913, NCDA became a leading force in helping individuals and communities shift from an agrarian to an industrial society. NCDA members crafted ideas and programs that effectively encouraged resilience in the face of cultural upheaval and fought against social inequality. In 2013, NCDA members work to address similar problems as innovations in technology, globalization, and shifting social structures reshape individual access to and navigation of learning, work, and well-being. Exponential technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, and synthetic biology are developing at rates faster than many workers can adapt. Accordingly, the call for universal career assistance has been amplified and expanded because (a) career transitions have replaced job security, (b) lifelong learning is now a sustainability requirement, and (c) the search for meaning and purpose in work has become prevalent.


In this context, each career practitioner’s wisdom holds the opportunity for personal validation of those they serve within direct service, programs, or policy. The 2013 NCDA Conference in Boston is dedicated to supporting career development practitioners in their quest to help individuals and communities adapt to the social reorganization of work. The Centennial Conference will also reflect on past accomplishments of NCDA and its rich history. To prompt some initial reflection and tell a little history, each month before the Boston Conference, NCDA will share key documents about its formation and first year of activity. The first document is the minutes of the meeting in which NCDA was hatched.


The formation of the National Vocational Guidance Association (NVGA) was completed at a series of meetings held in October 21-24, 1913 at Grand Rapids, Michigan. During these meetings, NVGA was formed through acceptance of the report from an organizing committee, the adoption of a constitution, and the election of officers. The Grand Rapids conference was the third national conference on vocational guidance, with the first being in Boston in 1910 and the second in New York in 1912. At the New York meeting in October 1912, the conferees authorized the selection of a committee to present plans for a permanent organization during the 1913 meeting. To see the minutes of that October 26, 1912 organizing committee meeting, click on this link:

Session Held for the Transaction of Business at the Meeting House of the Society for Ethical Culture on Saturday October 26 1912.



Read all the "Roots" articles published in Career Convergence as part of our centennial celebration:

Roots #1: NCDA Roots (above)

Roots #2: The First NVGA Conference

Roots #3: Vocational Guidance

Roots #4: The Association Journal

Roots #5: Early History



Rich FellerRich Feller, Ph.D., is Professor of Counseling and Career Development and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar at Colorado State University, and a Nationally Certified Counselor. A Fellow and President (2012-2013) of the National Career Development Association, he received NCDA’s Eminent Career Award in 2009. He can be reached at Rich.Feller@ColoState.EDU

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Susan Roudebush   on Monday 02/04/2013 at 02:05 AM

I loved and so appreciated reading those 1913 minutes! I'd love to see that Meeting House of the Society for Ethical Behavior. Indeed, we could use a couple of these meeting houses in each state! Noticably, none of us westerners were involved yet. We need to pay tribute to our past. Thank you for this.

Martha Canji   on Wednesday 02/06/2013 at 02:37 PM

Thank you for your insights and for sharing history.
Amazing to think it started with 7 - energy and collaboration!


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.