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.

Past President

Dr. Gilbert received a B.A. in Theology (1977), an M.S. in Mental Health Counseling (1991), and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and Religious Studies (1994). Don is an ordained minister and pastored for 17 years. He has worked in private practice since 1991 and has worked as a therapist (LMHC) with individuals, couples, and groups, and an adjunct professor at Mercy College of Health Sciences (2004-present). He owns and manages New Life Counseling (2002). Dr. Gilbert is certified as a speaker, trainer, consultant, and coach with The John Maxwell Team (2012). Don is a published author. He has served on the IMHCA board as treasurer, president-elect, and currently as president. Don also serves on the Iowa Board of Behavioral Science. He is married (1976) to his wife Debbie and has lived in Polk County since 1986. Don and his wife have four children who graduated from Ankeny H.S. They have 10 grandchildren. Don is a long-time and avid Husker fan and enjoys golfing, bicycle riding, reading, working, yard work, and spending time with his wife and family.

President Elect

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.


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 Chair

Public Policy Co-Chair

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.

Membership Chair

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 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 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.