Chapter Update

Thursday, March 31

2011 NASW Illinois Chapter Elections: Board of Directors

Nina Nguyen, Manager, Communications and Membership

The 2011 NASW Illinois Chapter Elections will take place from April 1–30, 2011. Keep an eye on your e-mail on April 1 for a link to the electronic ballot. To view candidate personal statements, click here.


VICE PRESIDENT (Two-year term)

Candi Gray (MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; LCSW, OSW-C) is a member of the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW). She has worked in a variety of healthcare settings, helping those impacted by various health-related problems and illnesses. Beginning her career at the City/County of San Francisco Health Department in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, Candi went on to work in the areas of geriatrics, substance abuse, medical case management, HIV/AIDS, and oncology.  Currently, she works as an oncology social worker at the Community Cancer Center in Normal, IL, a comprehensive, community-based cancer care provider serving persons in central Illinois. The center focuses on outpatient cancer care and includes services such as medical and radiation oncology, CyberKnife service, comprehensive breast service, nutrition, community education, and offers a full complement of support services. As an oncology social worker, Candi is responsible for all clinic-wide psychosocial support services, program development and standards, evaluation, and continuous quality improvement and accreditation. Candi states, “As an oncology social worker, I have the privilege everyday to help those who are affected by cancer find the knowledge, support, and hope they will need to face the challenges and changes their diagnosis brings.” Additionally, she has been a field supervisor for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Illinois State University’s social work programs and Illinois State University’s Child Life program.

Daniel M. Potter (MS, New York University; LCSW; BCD) is a Fellow of the Illinois Society for Clinical Social Work. His psychotherapy, family therapy, forensic, and consultation practice is located in Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois. He has been in practice for over eighteen years and specializes in behavioral problems in children and obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders in patients of all ages.

Daniel is on faculty at Loyola University’s School of Social Work. He is president of Potter Center for Development, managing partner at Mayer-Potter Forensic Psychology, and executive director of the Midwest Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders Center. Daniel is the former vice-president of the National Organization of Forensic Social Work and previously sat on the Illinois Society for Clinical Social Work Board of Directors. He is currently the NASW Illinois Chapter Treasurer, for which he chairs the Mental Health Services Task Force as well.

Daniel was listed in Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare from 1999–2002 and 2008–2009. He lectures frequently on psychopathology (with foci on anxiety and behavioral disorders), veteran reintegration, crisis, anger and stress management, ethnicity, and forensics. Additionally, he has written on addictions, eating disorders, depression as well as suicide, and is currently writing a book on the obsessive-compulsive disorder. He has extensive post-graduate training in behavioral psychology, psychotherapy, and family therapy. Daniel holds graduate degrees from New York University in both Clinical Social Work and Health Care Management, and an undergraduate degree from Rutgers University.

TREASURER (Two-year term)

Barry Ackerson (PhD, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; LCSW) began his career in the 1970s. He has worked with clients in state facilities and community agencies, been a program director, was a department head, and worked at the state level. He became a social work professor in 1998 and an administrator in 2002.


MEMBER AT-LARGE (Two-year term)

Mary Gollings (MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; LCSW) worked within Chicago's geriatric services community as a social worker before joining the federal work force at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Mary has been able to serve our veterans as well as the men and women of the Armed Forces during her tenure with the VA. She works within the VA's Geriatric Extended Care programs, including rehabilitation services, long-term care, hospice and palliative, and caregiver support services. Mary has had the opportunity to serve on the Social Work Practice Committee, the Continuing Education Committee, and both facility and regional committees for cultural change and resident-centered care. She has also enjoyed supervising MSW students. Mary is a proud volunteer for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and sits on the Illinois Ride to Cure planning committee, which fundraises and brings awareness to the need for a cure for Type I diabetes.

 Noam Ostrander (PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago; AM, The University of Chicago; LCSW) is assistant professor at DePaul University’s Social Work Program. Prior to joining the faculty at DePaul, Noam worked with former gang members who sustained violently-acquired disabilities. Additionally, he has served as clinical therapist for members of LGBT communities. Since joining DePaul’s faculty, Noam has published articles on disability identity formation, sexuality, and social work education in journals such as Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, Disability and Society, Disability and Sexuality, and Social Work Education. Recently, he published an edited book with a colleague entitled, Understanding Disability Studies and Performance Studies. Noam has presented his research at several major conferences and has been an invited speaker at universities in the United States and Israel. Additionally, Noam has served as president for the Society of Disability Studies and currently serves on the Council for Social Work Education’s Council on Disability and Persons with Disabilities.


Chasity Wells-Armstrong (MSW, Governors State University; CADC) has worked in a variety of social service settings and in state government serving persons with developmental disabilities, juvenile justice issues, incarceration, substance abuse issues, homeless status, and the unemployed. In addition, Chasity has been active in her community and is completing her first term on the NASW Illinois Chapter Board of Directors. Currently, she is a member of Zonta International serving on the Legislative Awareness & Action Committee and has been appointed to the Executive Committee of the NAACP, Kankakee Branch.Chasity most recently served as Constituent Services Director for Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson (IL-11). Due to the November 2010 elections, Congresswoman Halvorson did not win re-election. Chasity is currently seeking her next opportunity to serve her community. 


Mary Garrison (MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; LCSW; ACSW) is currently assistant professor at Millikin University. Courses taught by Mary include human behavior and the social environment; practice with diverse populations/cultural diversity; social work ethics; community mental health; introduction to the helping professions; and an international travel course: social and educational policy in Ireland. Additionally, Mary is adjunct faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign teaching generalist practice and mental health policy courses. Mary has had extensive practice experience in the social work field, with over fifteen years of practice in mental health services. Mary is currently a part-time private practitioner at Decatur Psychological Associates. Throughout her career, Mary has served as a therapist, clinical supervisor, manager, consultant, child development specialist, and victim/witness advocate. Mary has been active in providing continuing education opportunities for colleagues through professional workshops, presentations, and trainings domestically and internationally. Mary serves as advisor to several committees and participates on a number of boards including the Mental Health Association of Macon County and participates on the governing board of the Macon County Homeless Council. Mary is a statewide NASW Awards Committee Member, Delegate Assembly Member, and has previously acted as the East Central District Nomination Committee Chair.


Joan M. Lodge (MSW, Aurora University; LCSW) has been with the Janet Wattles Center since 1991. She became an LCSW in 1994. She was instrumental in bringing comprehensive mental health services to Boone County with the opening of the first satellite office in Belvidere, IL, in 1994. Awarded The Oscar Blackwell Employee Excellence Award in September 2008, Joan has served as an NASW Illinois Chapter Board Member since 2008. She is currently associate director of the Janet Wattles Center in Belvidere, IL.


James Messerschmidt(MSW, Virginia Commonwealth University; LCSW; ACSW) specializes in mental health, particularly the needs of older adults and their families. With over twenty-five years of experience, he has served in various capacities in hospitals, family service and community mental health agencies, and has provided consultation to inpatient and long term care facilities throughout Northern Illinois.


Audrey LeMasters (PhD, Walden University; LCSW) has lived her whole life in the Peoria area. Though graduating from the high school in the early 1980s, she was unable to attend college immediately due to the economy. She returned to college as a nontraditional student in the mid 1980s, eventually graduating from Illinois State University in 1993 with a degree in psychology.

Audrey applied and obtained a job at a private agency working in child welfare. To this day, she is convinced that the reason she got the job was because of the fear she expressed during the interview at being able to adequately fulfill all of the responsibilities of the job. She continued her work at various private agencies for nearly eight years. During this time, she returned to school to complete her master’s degree in social work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

After completing her master’s, she obtained a job as a clinical coordinator for a Partial Hospitalization program in Peoria. She was then offered the opportunity to work at a local private practice. She has worked for the past nine years in private practice. She also works part-time at the Heart of Illinois HIV/AIDS program.

Audrey believes in the importance of giving back. She has worked in numerous volunteer capacities at a local school. She is also currently on the board of directors at the Mental Health Association of Illinois Valley.


Megan Sarasek(BA, DePaul University) is a current MSW student at Loyola University Chicago. Born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, she attended Baker Demonstration School and Evanston Township High School for grade school and high school respectively. At the age of seventeen, she went out to Washington, DC, to attend American University and proceeded to study law and public policy. After struggling with personal medical issues, she came back home to Chicago and finished her bachelor’s degree at DePaul University, majoring in political science. She had fine instructors at DePaul, and a great mentor who encouraged her to follow her dreams and pursue a master’s in social work at Loyola University. She has always been committed to social justice, and spent much of her undergraduate years lobbying and working for political campaigns. In her current social work education, she has taken a clinical focus in her field work, yet remains committed to policy work and advocacy and is looking forward to finding more ways to get involved in both micro- and macro-level forms of intervention. She is extremely interested in mental health and substance abuse policy, and for this reason has decided to specialize in the mental health track at Loyola while also pursuing her Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling (CADC). She looks forward to contributing her knowledge, experience, and passion for social work and social justice in the future.


Sherri Funk is a current BSW student at Governors State University. She chose diversity and social justice as her initial social work course when she returned to college, which was enough to entice her to choose to major in social work. The knowledge gained in her diversity and social justice course was much more than simple textbook material; it was a process of self examination of her values and attitudes towards the marginalized populations. Recognizing her personal attitudes towards others will allow her to demonstrate professionalism as well as social work values and ethics in her career as a social worker.

Intertwining her personal values, beliefs, and interests also aided in her decision to pursue a career in the social work field. Her personal attributes and educational experiences provide her with personal and professional strengths relating to her role as a social worker. As a non-traditional student who works full-time outside the home, time management is a key component to her success as a student.

Meredith Spainhour is a current BSW student at Olivet Nazarene Universiity. She is from a close family of five, having known encouragement, love, and guidance her entire life. Born in Illinois, her life until college was spent in the southern half of the state, in East Peoria, IL, for seven years and Greenville, IL, for twelve years. She is passionate for many things, some of which are her Christian faith, literature, nature, family, understanding other cultures and places, working with her hands, and spending time with people. At the end of her freshman year of college and after a long struggle to determine what career to take, she chose to study social work. She had not considered this field until that year, but choosing it makes sense after the experiences she has had in life and the person she has become.

Posted on 03/31/11 at 12:16 PM


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