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Friday, March 1

From the Pen of the Executive Director: March 2019

Joel L. Rubin, MSW, ACSW, CAE
NASW-Illinois Chapter Executive Director

Happy Social Work Month! As many of you are aware, this year’s theme, “Elevate Social Work,” describes the importance of social workers empowering and elevating thousands of people across our state and millions more across the nation, including some of our most vulnerable. Social Work Month resources can be found here.

The state of Illinois 2019 Social Work proclamations are being sponsored by two newly elected legislators. HR70 is being sponsored by social worker and State Representative Karina Villa. SR59 is being sponsored in the senate by State Senator Ram Villivalam.

A complete list of Social Work Month activities across the state can be found on the website, culminating with Social Work Advocacy Day on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, in Springfield, IL. As always I want to thank our NASW-Illinois Chapter District Chairs for their commitment and efforts in provide such quality CEU events.

This past month, our National NASW CEO Angelo McClain appointed me to the position of Acting Deputy Director of Chapter Operations. This new position, which begins March 4, 2019, manages the daily operations of the Chapter Operations Department, overseeing the work of the 54 chapters of the association. I am honored to serve the association in this capacity. During the transitional period, I will continue to serve in my current role as NASW-Illinois Chapter Executive Director, generally working in Washington, DC, three days a week. We are currently adding some administrative resources to support our chapter while I am on this assignment. And as always, the NASW-Illinois Chapter will continue to provide the same level of services that our members expect.

This past month I had the opportunity to attend two very interesting and timely CEU workshops. On February 21, 2019, in honor of Black History Month, the NASW-Illinois Chapter’s Older Adults Shared Interest Group (SIG) presented, The State of Aging in Chicago's Black Community, at Roseland Community Hospital. Over sixty social workers attended a program which featured Melvin Thompson, executive director of the Endeleo Institute, the community development arm of Trinity United Church of Christ on the far south side of Chicago and Robin Tillotson, MSW, the Southeast Regional Director at the Chicago Department on Aging. The NASW-Illinois Chapter Older Adults SIG seeks to establish social work as a primary discipline in work with older adults and their families, as well as to attract and build capacity among committed social workers, qualified and trained, in the field of aging.

On February 27, 2019, NASW-Illinois Chapter member Justine Janis, LCSW, and her colleagues from Amita Health presented a workshop titled, Public Library Social Work: An Emerging Field. This interdisciplinary work is going on all over the country. In the Chicago area, Amita Health is partnering with the Chicago Public Library, Evanston, and Oak Park library systems. Justine referenced an article in The New York Times by Eric Klinenberg, “To Restore Civil Society, Start with the Library,” in which he notes, “Libraries don’t just provide free access to books and other cultural materials, they also offer things like companionship for older adults, de facto child care for busy parents, language instruction for immigrants and welcoming public spaces for the poor, the homeless and young people.”

Justine pointed out that across the country there are:

  • 38 libraries with a full-time social worker
  • 50 libraries with MSW student interns
  • 12 libraries with social service office hours
  • 3 libraries with part-time social workers

As noted above, more interesting CEU offerings will be taking place across the state during the month of March.

Happy Social Work Month!


Joel L. Rubin, MSW, ACSW, CAE, has served as executive director of the 7,000 member Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) since October 1999. He has over twenty-five years of nonprofit management and fundraising experience including extensive work with boards of directors, committees and volunteers, and advocacy around a wide variety of social work, human service, and international political issues. Joel is a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Fellowship Leadership Program and a current adjunct professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work as well as Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work.

Posted on 03/01/19 at 08:00 AM

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