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Counseling and Student Affairs Staff

Dr. Cheryl Pence
Dr. Cheryl Pence
- Project Director, Research Faculty

Dr. Cheryl Pence is research faculty and the Project Director of a $1.92 million four-year Behavioral Health Workforce and Training (BHWET; 2021-2025) grant supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This award enhances the department’s ability to recruit and train a diverse group of students and professionals serving in high needs areas. Funding supports eligible counseling interns who receive a minimum $10,000 stipend to support their cost of living during their internship year where they complete at least 280 direct hours and 700 total hours of supervised counseling services to campus and community members; access to 42 hours of online trauma telehealth training with a focus on working with children, teens, and young adults; a free conference registration and a 1-night hotel stay in Louisville the Kentucky Counseling Association; and access to a variety of other training opportunities beyond their academic program. In addition, counseling intern supervisors will receive a stipend equivalent to a 3-credit graduate course and access to 42 hours of free online trauma telehealth training to support their continuing education. Community mental health and school providers are be able to participate in WKU-sponsored professional counseling trainings and receive free continuing education credits.


Dr. Pence joined Western Kentucky University an Assistant Professor in 2014 and received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 2020. She transitioned to part-time research faculty in 2021 when she moved to Arizona for family medical reasons and accepted the Clinical Director position at the MISS Foundation, where she does intensive grief counseling for families who lost a child or loved one, supervises interns, provides grief training for primary and mental health providers, manages a respite house for families, conducts research, and writes grants. During her 7 years as a full-time WKU faculty member, she taught graduate-level counseling courses, served as the Clinical Coordinator for student internship placements, Program Co-Coordinator of the College and Career Readiness (CCR) Certificate, Outreach & Development Coordinator, National Certification Exam Coordinator, and CSI-OKU Chapter Faculty Advisor.


Dr. Pence earned a B.S. in Economics from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland; a M.S. in Human Resource Management from Troy University; an M.Ed. and Ed.S. in Mental Health Counseling, and Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the University of Florida. Dr. Pence is a Licensed Professional Counselor and approved supervisor in Kentucky (LPCC-S) and Arizona (LPC), Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC), Certified Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF), Professional in Human Resource Management (PHR), Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist (CCHt), and Certified Compassionate Bereavement Care provider (CBC). Her primary research interests include career development, wellness and self-care, and multicultural spirituality and she has led several quantitative and qualitative studies, funded grants, presentations, and publications in these areas. She has given more than 50 scholarly presentations at state, regional, national, and international counseling association conferences including the American Counseling Association (ACA), Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), National Career Development Association (NCDA), Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (SACES), Kentucky Counseling Association, and others; she has provided more than 35 invited talks or local workshops. In addition, she has published 9 national peer-reviewed journal articles, 6 book chapters, 27 other refereed publications, and several non-refereed publications, manuals, and websites. She received 18 funded grants totaling nearly $2 million related to her research and training.

Dr. Pence served on the Executive Boards of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES, 2020-2021) and Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (SACES, 2015-2020), and was a leader in Chi Sigma Iota, the international counseling academic and professional honor society, at the local and international levels (2005-2020). In addition, she actively served on committees with the National Career Development Association (NCDA). Within the Bowling Green community, she served as a steering committee and tactic team member with the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce SCK LAUNCH program (2015-2021) enhancing the college and career readiness of high school students. Additionally, she served on the Service Academy Nomination Committees for both Senator Paul and Congressman Guthrie (2015-2021), reviewing and ranking more than 50 competitive high school applications to four U.S. service academies; and served as an information/admissions counselor for the U.S. Naval Academy (2005-2021), guiding and formally interviewing several candidates each year as they completed their admissions applications. Within WKU, she has served on additional college and university committees and served as a dissertation chair and committee member for several doctoral dissertations.

Dr. Pence’s professional work experiences span more than 25 years and have strengthened her passion for helping people find meaning within their personal and professional experiences aligned with their values, providing a deep sense of satisfaction, and contributing to their overall personal wellness and work performance. From naval officer to counselor and professor, Dr. Pence's professional career experiences span across military, government, public-sector, private-sector, and academic arenas. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, she served as a Naval Surface Warfare Officer, leading divisions of 40-45 naval personnel onboard naval ships where she was responsible for the daily operations, training, and management of all personnel in her deck, electronics, and fire control divisions. In addition to her full-time division officer responsibilities, on the USS Essex (LHD-2), she served as the Educational Services Officer, maximizing the educational opportunities for over 1,200 crewmembers. On the USS Yorktown (CG-48), she also served as the Public Affairs Officer for the Navy's first technologically-advanced "Smart Ship," giving presentations and tours to high-level officials and large public groups. She also served as the first and only female crew member for 3 months before another female officer joined the crew. In her final assignment, she served as the naval surface warfare liaison in a joint military command, coordinating all maritime units in joint integrated exercises, and providing training to more than 150 participants. This led to a follow on government assignment analyzing the interactions during the integrated exercises.

In addition to her military and government experiences, Dr. Pence worked in human resources as an executive recruiter, serving as a consultant to city councils, boards of directors, and other high-level public officials on recruiting and selecting top executives for public-sector organizations. Furthermore, she served as a Financial Advisor with a Morgan Stanley, working with hundreds of clients and presenting workshops to individuals and large groups, helping them establish short and long-term financial goals that fit their values and lifestyle. Pursuing the most meaningful aspects of her previous careers, she returned to school to complete her degrees in counseling and worked with terminally-ill patients and families at Hospice; talked with clients, counseled at accident scenes and hospitals, and trained law enforcement as part of the team with the Alachua County Crisis Center; worked with hundreds of students as a career counselor in the University of Florida Career Resource Center; supervised interns as the Co-Director of the Talley Family Counseling Center, and currently works for the MISS Foundation near Sedona, Arizona as the Clinical Director, counseling grieving families on a 10-acre natural setting with more than 40 rescue animals (dogs, cats, sheep, goats, pigs, alpacas, donkeys, horses) who help provide a therapeutic environment for individuals, couples, and families who come to stay from around the world.

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Department of Counseling
and Student Affairs

Gary A. Ransdell Hall 3036
1906 College Heights Blvd. #51031,
Bowling Green, KY 42101-1030
(270) 745-4953

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 Last Modified 9/11/18