Chapter Update

Thursday, March 31

2011 NASW Illinois Chapter Elections: Personal Statements

Nina Nguyen, Manager of Communications

The 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 bios, click here.

VICE PRESIDENT (Two-year term)

Candi Gray: It has been a great honor to serve the past four years on the NASW Illinois Board of Directors as East Central District Chair. I am committed to the social work profession and the integrity of NASW. Year after year, our Illinois Chapter is fortunate to have dedicated volunteers serving on the board who keep our professional organization moving forward and growing to provide important services to its members. Because of this, it would be a privilege to continue my service to the NASW Illinois members as Vice President to the NASW Illinois Chapter Board of Directors.

Daniel Potter: In the Boy Scouts, we regularly heard the motto, “Be prepared.” After years in the Scouts, this exhortation shaped me personally and eventually professionally. It continues to be relevant as well.

Take, for instance, the job of vice president. In some ways, it will require me to “be prepared” to carry out many of the duties that I have had over the last four years. Specifically, the role of vice president will require me to respond to many of the fiscal, operational, and planning challenges faced by the organization. With an additional master’s degree in management, I have the technical foundation necessary for this. Over the past dozen years, I have applied my training in accounting and finance, nonprofit management, and strategic planning to building and operating three successful businesses. Moreover, I am supported by my experience as the NASW Illinois Chapter’s Treasurer, as an NASW Illinois Executive Committee member, and as a recipient of our Leadership Award. I am prepared.

In other ways, being NASW Illinois Vice President will require me to be prepared to carry out the responsibilities assigned to me by the chapter’s president. Indeed, this is already occurring. Our current president has tasked me with chairing the group charged with improving the Social Work and Clinical Social Work Practice Act. Several meetings have taken place already, and our work is progressing well. I am prepared.

It would be an honor to serve the chapter as its vice president. If elected, I promise to perform my duties with commitment and verve.

TREASURER (Two-year term)

Barry Ackerson: I have been a social worker for thirty-five years as a practitioner, administrator, and an academic. I am committed to the profession and have a strong desire to develop the next generation of social workers. I hope to bring a broad perspective to the board.

MEMBER AT-LARGE(Two-year term)

Mary Gollings: I would be honored to continue to serve as the NASW Illinois Chapter Member At-Large. I am dedicated to our profession, the Chicago community, and the future of social work. Rallying community and system support for social and civil progress led me to the field of social work and remains a priority. As a member of NASW and its Board of Directors, I have the opportunity to impact system change and to advocate and promote self-empowerment, which I believe defines our values as social workers. I work diligently to display and promote the high professional standards that define social work to those outside of our profession and to those who have not yet chosen a career. Education on the vast array of roles that we encompass as social workers, as well as licensure requirements, schooling, and training is an ongoing commitment for me. I have the honor of supervising MSW students which provides me the opportunity to teach professional and ethical responsibility. I find true passion in encouraging professional growth and recognition amongst peers, as well as promoting the value of social workers in executive positions within the work force. If elected, I vow to bring my experience and devotion to this office.

Noam Ostrander: I have been a member of NASW for nearly a decade. In that time I have benefited from many opportunities that the organization provides, including statewide conferences, continuing education trainings, and Advocacy Day. Through those experiences and my time as a member, I have seen the many strengths of NASW Illinois and the beneficial effects it can have on its members. As a result, I would like to serve as the Member At-Large for the organization, not only to continue that tradition, but also to address areas where I believe NASW Illinois can improve. For example, I think that NASW Illinois needs to be more vigorous in its advocacy efforts for issues important to social workers and not just issues important to our profession’s “turf.” As everyone knows, Illinois exists in tight financial times which means that social service agencies are struggling. We need to be stronger in our defense of those agencies and the state dollars that fund those agenci es. Clearly, NASW Illinois cannot accomplish these tasks without increased involvement from social workers across the state. To that end, I believe I can bring energy and experience to be part of the NASW Illinois Board of Directors and its staff so that we can increase participation among social workers in the state. Indeed, now is the time when we need to unite to build a stronger professional association that will make you proud to be a member.


Chasity Wells-Armstrong: Did not submit a personal statement.


Mary Garrison: My dedication and passion for the field of social work is evident as demonstrated by my years of experience and commitment to the field’s ethics and values. I have earned the respect of colleagues both domestically and internationally and through my work in academia. I have provided students with opportunities to invoke change within their communities. My scholarship and research exhibit efforts have focused on improving policy and services for consumers of mental health services, making impactful change within the mental health arena. I am a leader who exemplifies the best of the profession. My active NASW involvement has produced opportunities to serve on the Nominations Committee and now as a Delegate Assembly participant. If given the opportunity to serve as East Central District Chair, I will undoubtedly embrace the chance to assist in promoting the profession’s mission.


Joan Lodge: I have been district chair of the Jane Addams District since June 2008. Since I began on the NASW Illinois Chapter Board of Directors, the district has held successful celebrations during Social work Month. In 2009, Social Worker of the Year and Lifetime Achievement award recipients for the district won for the entire state. In 2010, Jane Addams District Lifetime Achievement award recipient won for the state as well. I have demonstrated that I am dedicated to the profession as evidenced by my career in social services for the past nineteen years. I continue to mentor social work students and have a working relationship with the schools of social work. My goal for the next year is to continue to increase the exposure of NASW Illinois and mentor another member for the role of district chair.


James Messerschmidt: Having been a member of NASW for over twenty-five years, I am greatly interested in the future of our profession. Active in both mental health and older adult services, I wish to continue to enhance the effective functioning and well-being of individuals, families, and the Northeastern Illinois community by supporting local research, practice, and advocacy efforts.

I am especially excited about the prospect of being a part of NASW’s imperatives to advance the profession’s future: increased use of technology, adapting business and management practices, improving recruitment and retention efforts, promoting the unique benefits of social work education, expanding public, government, and industry influence, and identifying the next generation of social workers.

In these unprecedented times, to echo the words of NASW Executive Director Elizabeth Clark, we must collectively craft a bolder and broader vision that will carry us into the future. It is necessary for all social workers to formulate viable solutions, assume leadership roles, and foster collaboration with other service providers.

I look forward to the opportunity to being a part of this future.


Audrey LeMasters: I began work in social work more than eighteen years ago after working with high school students in a non-professional capacity. Initially, I felt overwhelmed and lost. Over the past eighteen years, I have come to appreciate the richness of the human condition. There is nothing more powerful than having an individual share their innermost thoughts and experiences, then working together to help those individuals realize their fullest potential.

I  have worked in many capacities with a variety of populations. All of these experiences have allowed me to learn and appreciate that people are born into diverse circumstances with various resources available. I have enjoyed the professional challenge of identifying individual circumstances, resources, and cultures in order to assist the individual in attaining their highest potential.

I believe that all of these experiences have prepared me for the new challenge of working with NASW Illinois members in the West Central District. I am ready for a new professional challenge. I would like to work to advocate at a higher level. I think that my professional experiences and contacts will help me to communicate with members of the district and effectively advocate for them and their client base at the state level. I am grateful for the opportunity to run for this position and appreciate your consideration.


Megan Sarasek: I am not only extremely interested in, but I believe also well-qualified to add value to, the position of MSW Representative to the NASW Illinois Chapter. With an undergraduate background in political science, I have already devoted much of my nonacademic time to policy work and advocacy, and was especially active in the most recent presidential political campaign. My parents have instilled in me a strong commitment to social justice, and many of my undergraduate years were spent assisting in public lobbying as well as in grassroots organizing efforts. It was not much of a difficult transition from undergraduate work in political science to graduate studies at Loyola University in social work. While I have pursued a more clinical focus in my field work, I remain committed to policy work and advocacy and am looking forward to finding more ways to get involved in both micro- and macro-level forms of intervention. I am especially interested in mental health and substance abuse policy, and for that reason I have decided to pursue a dual track at Loyola specializing in mental health, while also pursuing my Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling (CADC). I bring with me the enthusiasm and keen perspective of a younger generation, and look forward to contributing my knowledge, experience and passion in service as an MSW representative to NASW Illinois.


Sherri Funk: Intertwining my personal values, beliefs, and interests also aided in my decision to pursue a career in the social work field. My personal attributes and my educational experiences provide me with personal and professional strengths relating to my role as a social worker. My previous volunteer involvement and my employment in the business world are strengths because they allow me to have a constant understanding of the importance of the rules related to the confidentiality of a patient’s case.

I possess a constant desire to help others in any way that is feasible while I work full-time outside the home and attend school. I currently advocate for women of domestic violence by volunteering for Harbor House, a domestic violence shelter in Kankakee. I also advocate for the terminally ill by volunteering for Hospice of Kankakee Valley. Advocating for these groups allows me to help others within my community while at the same time putting the material learned in the classroom to practical use.

Meredith Spainhour: As a sophomore in the social work program at Olivet Nazarene University, I am in the midst of learning the methods, theory, and field realities behind the work of a social worker. As I progress through this study and explore how other concentrations can aid my future career, I will be more than able to represent the unique perspective of a BSW student. I am passionate for the future of social work and for increasing the communication between students and those in the field. I believe that the greater the communication between the student and the professional, the better future social workers will be equipped. Through the leadership positions and service opportunities I have experienced, from mission trips to Student Council president in high school, I have been prepared to serve in a contributory and positive way. I am specifically excited to learn of the current climate for social workers in Illinois and its implications for my generation of social workers.

Posted on 03/31/11 at 12:15 PM


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