E. Niel Carey, NCDA’s first Executive Director (1931-2023) RIP

Niel CareyE. Niel Carey, NCDA’s first Executive Director (1985-94) passed away on June 15, 2023. He served during a time of tremendous growth and impact for the association. A multiple award-winner, Niel’s legacy will live on through his NCDA work and his impact will be apparent as NCDA continues to lead as the premier career development association.

NCDA had worked with the National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee (NOICC) to conduct the first Gallup Poll on Working America back in 1991.  During this time, NCDA was actively involved in national and professional policy development. Through a collaboration with NOICC, NCDA also helped develop the National Career Development Guidelines, which are still in use today and continue to be an important part of the professional practice guidelines for school counselors, counselor educators, and the staff and trainers in workforce development centers. 

Legislative and policy advocacy were an important part of Niel’s contribution to NCDA.  After his retirement, Niel continued his advocacy with NCDA as the Chair of the Government Relations Committee and convinced the Board of Directors to hire a DC-based advocate. For that effort, Niel was awarded the 2014 Legislative Award, the 2017 Career Education Award, and the 2021 NCDA Fellow. Even after he passed his 90th birthday, Niel was assisting with the NCDA Mentoring Program.

Niel was charismatic, passionate, and deeply dedicated to his work with NCDA. His work brought him such joy and a sense of purpose, as seen in the quote below from his autobiography. He loved NCDA members like family. He will be truly missed.

Quote from his autobiography, published in 2015:

My work and service with NCDA has been the most satisfying part of my professional career. The dedicated members and leaders of this organization consistently provide enthusiast leadership, service, and dedication to the mission of helping individuals across the lifespan search for, and plan for and advance in a meaningful career. Being involved in that process continues to enrich my life and to energize me!


Career Convergence published an article about Niel Carey:

Later Chapters with Niel Carey - By Rich Feller (Sept 2022)


Career Convergence articles written by Niel Carey include:

Tomorrow’s High School: A Revolutionary Resource for Forward-Thinking Educators - Book Review By Rebecca Dedmond and Niel Carey (Dec 2022)

The Brain Trust – A Valuable NCDA Resource - By E. Niel Carey (Dec 2014)

Government Relations: Strengthening NCDA’s Position in DC - By E. Niel Carey and Matt Kent (March 2014)

The Common Core State Standard: What Career Development Practitioners Need to Know - By Niel Carey and Rich Feller (Oct 2013)

NCDA Government Relations: A Strong Foundation From Which To Build a Strong Future For Our Profession - By Niel Carey and Thomas Stowell (Oct 2012)

Ken Hoyt Career Education Practitioner Award - By Roger Lambert and Niel Carey (March 2012)


The obituary is included below. Services are being planned as follows:

- Graveside service: Friday, June 23 at 1:00 pm at Line Church, Line Church Road, Pittsville, MD

- Memorial/Celebration of Life service: Saturday, June 24th at 11:00 am, Bethany United Methodist Church, 2875 Bethany Lane, Ellicott City, MD

Niel Carey 2017 Ken Hoyt Memorial Award with David Reile

Niel (left) receives the 2017 Ken Hoyt Memorial Award from NCDA President David Reile.



Niel Carey 2014 Legislative Award with Lisa Severy

Niel receives the 2014 Legislative Award from NCDA President Lisa Severy

Emerson Niel Carey - Obituary


E. Niel Carey, 91, of Ellicott City, MD, passed away peacefully on Thursday, June 15th 2023, at Gilchrist Center in Towson, MD.


Niel was born on October 10th, 1931 in Pittsville, MD to Doris and Vaughn Carey. He graduated from Pittsville High School and later Salisbury State Teachers’ College, after serving four years in the Air Force, stationed in Shaftesbury, England.


Niel pursued a lifelong career in the field of education, and as fate would have it, also met the love of his life, Helen S. Carey, who worked in the education field as well. It all began when he spontaneously interviewed for a teaching position during the time he accompanied his friend Pete, who was applying for a teachers’ position in Baltimore County. And the rest, as they say, is history when he and Helen married in a small town in south Alabama called Opp (The city of “Opp”ortunity). As fate continued, their marriage became a golden opportunity, as they headed north to Baltimore. 


He began his career in the Baltimore County Public School System as a Science and Math teacher, school counselor, and school counselor department head. His interest in Vocational/Career Guidance and experiential learning led him to accept a leadership role with the MD State Department of Education (MSDE) in the area of Career Education & Development. The creation of this curriculum at the state level was the first of its’ kind and proved to be cutting edge nationally as well. Niel highly valued collaborating with colleagues throughout the country to help grow this field within the education arena.  


After 18 years working at the MSDE, Niel “retired”, and went on to accept a position as the first Executive Director of the National Career Development Association (NCDA) where he worked for 9 years. He thoroughly enjoyed his “dream job” that allowed him to continue to collaborate with colleagues nationally and contribute to the growth of Career Development. He had a particular interest in legislative activity and government relations in his role at NCDA. As an avid professional and civic leader, he valued and felt it was his duty to share insights with editors of the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post.


Niel had a passion for traveling that began with his time in the Air Force, continued with Helen and their two daughters at times, as they visited 14 countries and many states within the US. He enjoyed photography and was most notably proud of his “closeup” of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip upon a chance encounter in Scotland. And last but certainly not least, he found great pride in planning many Carey/Cary family reunions that included attending service at Carey’s Church in Millsboro, DE and eventually gathering at the Edward H. Nabb Research Center at Salisbury University.


Niel is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Helen Simmons Carey of Ellicott City, MD; two children Laura C. McDonald (Kevin) of Towson MD and Rebecca C. Webb of Annapolis MD; and seven grandchildren Carey (NY, NY), Kathryn (Baltimore, MD) and Chris (Charlotte, NC) McDonald, and Aidan (Anchorage, AK), Noah (Denver, CO), Zachary (Denver, CO) and Elizabeth (Denver, CO) Webb.

“Well Done, GOOD & FAITHFUL SERVANT: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”      Matthew 25:23


A graveside service will be held Fri. June 23, 2023, 1p at Line Church in Pittsville MD followed by a memorial service held Sat. June 24 2023, 11a at Bethany United Methodist Church in Ellicott City MD.


In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Gilchrist Center Towson, 555 Towsontown Blvd W, Towson MD 21204.


Donations in his memory may also be made to Line Church, 17333 Line Church Road, Delmar, DE 19940.


Arrangements are in the care of Holloway Funeral Home, 501 Snow Hill Road, Salisbury, MD 21804. Please share memories and condolences with the family at www.HollowayFH.com.



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1 Comment

Rich W. Feller   on Wednesday 07/05/2023 at 09:13 PM

Niel called NCDA Exec Dir role his "dream job". Niel lived a life committed to his family, career development and shaping career development policy. His kindness, style and willingness to encourage and mentor others leaves all of us a reminder how to live a full life. Peace to your our friend.

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