Our staff members work hard to support mental health counseling through networking, advocacy, and public relations. Please contact them if you have questions, suggestions, or to learn about volunteer opportunities.
Courtney Ackerson, 2019-2021
Courtney Ackerson studied forensic psychology at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and graduated with her masters degree in 2010. Being a big fan of Iowa, and particularly Des Moines, she moved back to her home town of Urbandale after graduation. She has since worked for Orchard Place as a PMIC therapist, supervisor of community based services, and outpatient therapist. She will now be working with New Beginnings Counseling Services as an outpatient therapist in their office and in two Des Moines elementary schools. She enjoys traveling and being creative in her free time.
Kacey Peterson, 2017-2019
Kacey has worked as a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) since earning her Master’s from Drake University in 2010. She served as a school-based counselor and eventually as Clinical Director for an accredited mental health and substance abuse agency until 2014 when she opened a play therapy place in rural Iowa. In 2017, Kacey was appointed Executive Director of the IA Chapter of Children's Advocacy Centers, but returned to private practice in early 2019 as an independent consultant, grant writer, and training facilitator. Throughout her career, Kacey has served in both urban and rural settings across many of Iowa’s “frontier counties”. Her significant involvement in the nonprofit sector, and her position as IMHCA’s Government Relations Chair for nearly 5 years before stepping into the role of President has fueled her passion to advocate on behalf of underserved Iowans and the providers that strive to support them. Since 2011 she has worked to identify legislation and government policy that could significantly improve Iowa’s mental health delivery system and is dedicated to continuing those efforts as she works to educate our Senators and Representatives on the concerns and barriers facing counselors today.
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Kristten Buttermore, 2019-2021
Kristten graduated from Iowa State University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology. She went on to graduate from Drake University in 2003 with a Master’s in Education in Community Counseling. She has been providing mental health and substance abuse services since 2000, working in a variety of settings and roles. Kristten is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). In 2008 she founded Creative Counseling Services in Ames, IA where she provides substance abuse and mental health services.
Public Policy Co-Chair
Renu Suddapalli, 2019-2021
The Public Policy Co-Chair will work with the public policy and legislative committee chair to promote and advocate legislative efforts while keeping the professional members and board members of IMHCA informed of legislative and public policy issues.
Adrienne (Dree) LaToure, 2017-2019
Dree is a graduate of University of Northern Iowa’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. She has a passion for serving individuals through mental health services, and believes in our responsibility to advocate for our community’s needs. Dree looks forward to using her skills and passion to serve as IMHCA’s Membership Chair, advocating for issues in Iowa and supporting member needs. When she is not working as a Mental Health Counselor, Dree enjoys spending time with her two fantastic dogs, reading, and traveling to new places.
Networking and Communications Chair
Kyla Loucks, 2017-2019
Kyla is a recent Drake University graduate with an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Through working with individuals receiving special needs services and at-risk youth, she developed a passion for client advocacy. With a background in community outreach, Kyla is eager to combine experience and passion to help advance the profession of mental health counseling and mental health advocacy issues in the state of Iowa. She is a native of rural Iowa, now living in the Des Moines area. She spends most of her free time drinking caffeine so she has energy to keep up with her kids!
Conference Committee Chair
Christy Johnston, 2017-2019
Christy completed her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois in 1998 and moved to Des Moines to work at Orchard Place. She was a residential therapist and a school based therapist at Orchard Place for a total of 13 years. She now works for Broadlawns at the FOCUS High School program doing Individual, Group and Family therapy. She also does outpatient therapy part time at Dr. Bertroche and Associates. She was the IMHCA Conference Committee Chair for 8 years and is back at it again this year after taking a two year break. She has two children: her son is in his second year at ISU majoring in Engineering, and her daughter is a Freshman at Urbandale High School. In her free time she enjoys reading, jogging, spending time with friends, family, and watching football.
Erin Carter, 2019-2021
The Member-At-Large shall maintain knowledge of the organization and personal commitment to its goals and objectives, maintain active committee involvement, and carry out special assignments as requested by the board chair
Continuing Education Chair
Susan Heitshusen, 2019-2021
Susan (LMHC, IADC) has worked as a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) since earning her Master’s from Drake University in 2013. She is a certified alcohol and drug counselor and a certified grief recovery specialist. Susan has worked for House of Mercy and Compass Clinical Associates. Since May of 2018 she has been self-employed and currently practices at Prairie Wellness in Des Moines. Susan and her husband have four children and six grandchildren.
Casey Baker, 2018-2020
Casey Baker received her B.S. in psychology (2008), M.S. in Mental Health Counseling (2011), and Ed.D in Counselor Education and Supervision (fall 2018) from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Casey has experience working in the Mental Health field in various clinical settings including private practice, college campus, and community mental health. Casey is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state of Minnesota. Casey is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in the state of Iowa. Additionally, she is a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) and Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). Casey is currently an Assistant Professor of Counselor Education and Program Director for the Mental Health Counseling Program at Buena Vista University (2016-current). To keep current in the field, Casey provides individual and family counseling at Seasons Center on a part-time basis. In her free time, Casey enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.
Sheena Bahls, 2019-2021
The Student Representative must be a student actively enrolled in a counseling program and shall represent the views of students on matters relating to mental health counseling and act as a liaison between students and IMHCA board members.
Emma Hendricks, 2019-2021
Emma Hendricks completed her undergraduate degree with a Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Neuroscience from St. Ambrose University. She is currently a graduate student at the University of Iowa in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling track. She is passionate about promoting wellness for individuals in any circumstance and advocating for the needs of others. Emma is eager to bring her passions for serving others and student perspective to the IMCHA board.
Jason Stark, 2017-2019
After working as a school teacher and pastor for many years, Jason chose a new career path and graduated from Drake University with a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling and Rehabilitation Counseling. Currently he is practicing as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at Affinity Therapy and Counseling in Des Moines. Although not really an IT guru, Jason is a bit of a renaissance man, and it appears that is how he managed to land the job of the web coordinator for IMHCA. Jason grew up in Michigan but has lived in Iowa with his wife and three children for more than 20 years. When he isn't working, Jason enjoys trying to protect motorists by reducing the deer population, and riding his old-school 1980 Honda motorcycle.