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  • Writer's pictureNASW-IL Staff

2019 NASW-Illinois Chapter Elections

The 2019 NASW-Illinois Chapter Elections will take place from April 1–30, 2019. Keep an eye on your e-mail on April 5th for a link to the electronic ballot. Be sure to have your selections prepared before opening the electronic ballot.


VICE-PRESIDENT (Two-year term

Kenna Dunlap Johnson (MBA, University of St. Francis; MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; LCSW) has worked since 2011 as director of behavioral health for Gibson Area Hospital and Health Services in east central Illinois. In addition, she teaches undergraduate and graduate level social work courses for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Kenna has a long history of working in inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care, primarily with children, adolescents, and older adults. Kenna has served on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors as East Central District Chair for two terms and was recently appointed as chair of the Social Work Workforce Development Initiative. In addition she serves as school board member for the Blue Ridge District 18 Board of Education. Kenna has a passion for leadership in the field of healthcare. She oversees a team of multiple clinicians and support staff. Her interests include geriatric behavioral health, telehealth, and integrated behavioral health in primary care.

Robert Smith (MSW, Washington University in St. Louis; LCSW; BCD). I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Board-Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work. I was the Northeastern Illinois District Chair and a board member of the IL NASW Chapter from 2015 to 2017. I continue to volunteer with the Chapter and advocate on business and insurance matters. I have been in full time private practice in Niles, Illinois since 1999 treating adults and adolescents with individual, marital, and family therapy, and clinical hypnosis. I work with mental health and medical conditions. I have been teaching topics in psychotherapy to psychiatry residents at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital since 1995. Previously, I have practiced since 1979 having worked in residential treatment and inpatient psychiatric and addictions hospital programs with children and adolescents. I have worked in adult inpatient and intensive outpatient addictions treatment, and inpatient and partial hospital psychiatric programs with adults as a clinician and a manager.

MEMBER AT-LARGE (Two-year term)

Kristin Rubbelke (MSW, Loyola University Chicago; LSW) relocated to Illinois for graduate school and received a dual degree from Loyola University in social work and social justice. During her time at Loyola, she interned with the NASW-Illinois Chapter where she developed her interest in policy and politics. Kristin works full-time as lobbyist for a lobbying firm based in Chicago and holds the position of NASW-Illinois Chapter Political Action Committee Chair. She has years of experience as a hospital social worker and over ten years of experience working with people with disabilities. Her North Dakota roots and experience in the city of Chicago have given her the ability to understand the needs of both rural and urban areas. Her experience as a lobbyist also gives her a unique perspective on issues within the state of Illinois that may affect the profession. Kristin is an active advocate for democratic candidates. She holds the position of precinct captain in her ward organization and has canvased for many democratic candidates, including social workers.

Delliah Thomas (MSW, University of Southern California; LSW) is school social worker at Easterseals Academy-Chicago where she interfaces with children coping with autism and other intellectual disabilities. It is within this organization that Delliah implements mental health and restorative justice practices. Although advocating for children and families is her passion, the road leading her to her path in school social work began with her growing interest in policy. Delliah grew up in Sugar Land, TX (a southwest suburb in Houston), and moved to Chicago to pursue a degree in public policy. At the time she thought she wanted to pursue a career in law. Soon after beginning her undergraduate study, Delliah realized how profound of an impact policy has on the economic, education, and family systems. Moving to a highly diverse municipality (i.e., Chicago) changed Delliah's perspective as it pertains to intersectionality and the disparity of resources between persons of various income. To date Delliah is working toward expanding her knowledge base within the education and mental health systems through community service and advocacy. Furthermore, Delliah is committed to growing as a leader by convening with her fellow professionals within the social justice community and by networking within organizations that share similar social justice values.


Abbey DeBaene (BSW Student, Loyola University Chicago) is currently completing her BSW at Loyola University Chicago. She has been a social work major and five-year master’s program advanced standing student since her first day of class freshman year. She is specializing in mental health, earning a CADC, and sub-specializing in group work so her skill set is broad. Her passion is driven by her past experiences when she herself needed the support of a social worker. She aims to pay forward what she was given by the profession. She has been a full-time student while working on campus, at a hotel, and most recently at a local pet store, as well as a volunteer with various populations. These experiences allow her to remain flexible, well rounded, quick on her feet, and open minded, all much needed attributes for representation in the social work field. The graceful balancing act she puts on to achieve her academic, financial, social, physical and mental health goals drives her motivation, organization, and passion for the field. Whether the balancing act is going smoothly or messily, as we all know it does, she adjusts and conquers. As the Graduate Student Representative she will share her voice, but more importantly amplify the voice of others, while problem solving, sparking change, and embracing new opportunities for herself, her fellow social workers, the profession, and, most prominently, those in need of social work services.

Jennifer Plakut (MSW Student, University of Illinois at Chicago) is a first-year student in the master’s in social work program at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Social Work program. Jennifer is enrolled in the part-time program and works full-time as director of development for the University of Illinois College of Medicine. Jennifer has spent most of her professional career and the past seventeen years working with not-for-profits and higher education institutions. She is a results-oriented professional and has a demonstrated ability and effectiveness in soliciting individual and major donors, managing relationships with corporate and foundation donors, building strategic partnerships with diverse internal and external constituent groups, assisting in the production of large and small scale fundraising events, and the implementation and management of eCRM systems and methodology. She has used her skill set in a volunteer capacity as well with several local not-for-profits that work with immigrant communities and homeless youth populations, providing counsel and guidance to these organizations to help drive mission objectives and strategies. Jenna is pursuing an MSW with a mental health concentration and a certificate in evidence-based mental health practice with children. She inspires to become an LCSW and work providing mental health services to families and at-risk children, having special interest in the LGBTQ communities.


No candidates were submitted by the election slate deadline.


No candidates were submitted by the election slate deadline.


Dawn Livorsi (DSW, MSW, Aurora University; LCSW) is faculty member at Aurora University School of Social Work and psychotherapist in a group practice. She has a special interest in working with at-risk children/adolescents and the systems that impact them. Throughout her career Dawn has served as clinical director in a number of programs that treat young people, including a therapeutic day school, an addiction recovery program for adolescent girls, and a residential treatment center/school for youth demonstrating sexually problematic behavior. In her current role as assistant professor, she is tenacious in her efforts to educate emerging social workers, preparing them to act as competent and ethical critical thinkers in the field. Given her past work experience and thoughtful approach, Dawn is well suited to provide leadership on the complex issues facing social workers today. She is knowledgeable, hardworking, and dedicated to the cause of creating a more just society for all.

Lynn Zakeri (MSW, University of Illinois at Chicago; LCSW) began her career as a foster family worker for the city's hardest to place children. During her MSW schooling, she interned at both Cook County Hospital and a school. She was then hired as case manager at Chicago Public Schools where she brought her school into compliance for the first time. She continued her career as school social worker for ten years (six of those spent as lead school social worker) in Evanston while beginning her private practice. Her private practice continued to grow, and Lynn developed expertise in motivational interviewing, trauma, addictions, personality disorders, ED, anxiety, and depression. She never tires of finding resources for those in need. She has led several groups (social skills, transition to college, and Brené Brown's Daring Way and Rising Strong), and has been featured in numerous online and paper publications. She continues to look for ways to impact others and add to her own professional knowledge. Her recent term as Northeastern District Chair brought in several CEU events and a feeling of community amongst some of the regular attendees. Lynn thinks this role would continue to provide her with the opportunity to advocate for our district to bring in new relevant speakers as well as be a communicative liaison between the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors and the northeastern Chicago district.


Diana Alejandro (MSW, Dominican University; LCSW; CDWF) has been working in community mental health for over twelve years as both clinician and supervisor. She began her career in Los Angeles working with children and adolescents who experienced trauma. Diana is also a veteran and spent time helping homeless veterans through the VASH Program within the Veteran’s Administration. Committed to helping others, Diana returned to Illinois and became a registry clinician at Riveredge Hospital working with adolescents and adults in an in-patient setting. She also became a board member of NAMI – Metro Suburban, advocating to help break the stigma surrounding mental health. Her passion for the field of mental health also led her to become a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator (CDWF) based on The Daring Way™ curriculum by Dr. Brené Brown which explores the topics of vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness. She currently has a private practice in Oak Park providing services in both English and Spanish.

Greg Lee (MSW, Loyola University Chicago; LCSW) has been director of behavioral health at Meridian Health Plan in Chicago, IL, since 2016. Meridian administers Medicaid, Medicare, and Healthcare Exchange products in Michigan and Illinois, and Greg is responsible for the strategic development of behavioral health programs as well as working to increase awareness of mental health as a critical part of overall health and wellness. Prior to joining Meridian Greg worked in health insurance in several different states supporting the development and implementation of new Medicaid health plans with Centene. In this role Greg was part of business development activities for behavioral health products and spent much of his time working directly with community leaders, providers, and state and local governments across the country. Locally, Greg was director of community & treatment services with Heartland Human Care Services in Chicago, administering programs for substance use treatment, housing services, and HIV case management. Working for DuPage County Health Department, Greg managed compliance and accreditation activities for behavioral health services as well as continuing education initiatives for staff and the community.


Laura Kessel (MSW, Washington University in St. Louis) currently works for Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Medicine providing outreach to twenty counties in western Illinois. In her role with SIU, her responsibilities include partnering with local stakeholders in order to address community health issues, supporting the associate provost of external relations in regional health efforts, and supporting the interdepartmental efforts that expand the school's programs in population health and regional services. In addition to her role with SIU, Laura is involved in her community and was recently elected to continue serving on the Fulton County Board. In her county board role, Laura serves on the finance and insurance committee, executive committee, and is chair of the health committee. She previously worked at the Illinois State Board of Education for Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon and as a community organizer in southern Illinois.

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