2020 NASW-Illinois Chapter Elections
The 2020 NASW-Illinois Chapter Elections will take place from April 1–30, 2020. Keep an eye on your e-mail for a link to the electronic ballot. Be sure to have your selections prepared before opening the electronic ballot.
PRESIDENT-ELECT, 2020–2021 (One-year term followed by two-year term as president)
Kenna Dunlap Johnson, MBA, MSW, LCSW (MBA, University of St. Francis; MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) began working in the mental health field as a psychiatric inpatient mental health tech in 2004 prior to earning her MSW. After earning a degree in social work, Kenna continued on as case manager, therapist, and now director of behavioral health for a rural critical access hospital in east central Illinois. In addition to her role as hospital department director, Kenna also teaches graduate and undergraduate social work courses for the University of Illinois and Mental Health First Aid courses for community members. Kenna served as East Central District Chair for two terms on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors and currently serves as Vice-President for Budget and Finance. Kenna also serves her local school district as secretary for the board of education. Kenna is passionate about behavioral health treatment in rural settings as well as working to decrease stigma associated with mental illness. Kenna has also played a significant role in the NASW-Illinois Chapter Social Work Workforce Initiative as chair for the chapter's efforts to address social work workforce challenges and continue to grow and expand the valuable profession of social work.
Joseph Harper, DCSW, MBA, LCSW, ACSW, CADC, CCTP, CCHP-MH (MSW, Washington University in St. Louis) is currently executive director of the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center of St. Clair County, Inc., which provides mental health and substance abuse services to the community. He previously held positions with the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and most recently served as executive director of the southern region. He served as the program administrator for mental health services in the state’s largest maximum-security correctional facility. He has prior practice experience in child welfare, employee assistance programs, and outpatient mental health services. Joe is currently adjunct faculty member in social work at the University of Southern California. He is a longtime member of the National Association of Social Workers and former NASW-Illinois Chapter First Vice-President. He also served as NASW-Illinois Chapter Political Action Committee Chair. He previously served as district chair of the Metro East St. Louis District and has represented the NASW-Illinois Chapter at past NASW Delegate Assemblies. Joe has presented on the topic of services to forensic patients at several conferences including those held by the NASW-Illinois Chapter, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, and the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. Joe has also co-authored several publications in the field forensic social work practice and has served as expert witness regarding forensic populations. Joe is currently a member of the clinical examination committee with the Association of Social Work Boards.
SECRETARY, 2020–2022 (Two-year term)
Hilary Edgerly, LCSW (MSW, Southern Illinois University Carbondale) has spent her career serving veterans and their families. She began her career at VA Illiana Health Care System shortly after graduate school. She has experience in many program areas including care management, long-term care with special emphasis on dementia care, acute medicine, home care, and returning combat veterans program. In 2011, she began supervising social workers in those areas as well as many other specialty programs. Hilary has extensive experience in policy and program development, clinical supervision, advocacy, accreditation and survey readiness, system redesign and process improvement, and education development and presentation. She has worked on numerous local, state, and national workgroups and task forces to decrease psychosocial barriers to care for veterans and their caregivers. She has served secretary of the NASW Illinois Board of Directors from 2018 to present. She is passionate about healthcare for all and the workforce development of our profession.
MEMBER AT-LARGE, 2020–2022 (Two-year term)
Melissa Bercier, PhD, LCSW (PhD, Loyola University Chicago; MSW, Loyola University Chicago) began working in community mental health centers in Chicago in 1995. Her experience expanded to psychiatric in-patient treatment in Chicago and Las Vegas, NV, and also includes CMH in Anchorage, Alaska. From 2006 to 2010 she served as Three Rivers District Chair on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors. From 2010 to 2019, Melissa worked as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) therapist/affiliate. In 2012, she founded Couch Clarity, PC, a private practice in Elmhurst, Villa Park, and Glen Ellyn, IL. In January 2018, she was asked to join the Small Business Council for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC. Melissa advocates for entrepreneurs and small business owners as she meets in Washington, DC, and other areas in the US to inform and be informed on policies that directly affect small business.
Melissa's goal has been to destigmatize mental health enrichment and create a more positive and healthy community for all. Continuing on her path with destigmatizing seeking mental health enrichment, she created Theralete (therapy for athletes) in 2015. Theralete is a program designed to assist in guiding athletes into a well-rounded lifestyle which includes balance of the mind, body, and soul.
Melissa made compassion fatigue, secondary traumatic stress, and vicarious trauma in mental health workers her research focus throughout her PhD program. Helping the helper is a personal, ongoing mission. Melissa’s passion with helping the helper is also a large part of her private practice and business model. Melissa continues to expand her practice, continuing to create and offer exciting opportunities for growth and change for her own team.
LaTasha Roberson-Guifarro, MSW (MSW, Washington University) believes all should aspire to make an indelible impact of excellence in our world. She is a thought leader and executioner of achieving systemic results in the human services and technology sectors. Tasha has served as adjunct professor for the University of Illinois, and held direct service and progressing levels of leadership roles in child welfare, clinical services, training, and continuous quality improvement (CQI). LaTasha currently serves as associate vice president of strategy & organizational excellence at one of the largest child welfare and adoption agencies in Illinois, Lutheran Child & Family Services. She describes her role within her organization as a call to inspire, challenge, and equip internal stakeholders to consistently ask, answer, and respond to: How are we doing? How do we know? How do we prove and/or improve our efforts and strategically achieve the desired social impact results with the population served and the workforce serving considering the current and future landscape of needs, risks, human capital, and financial resource support allocations? LaTasha partners with the community across domains to strategically electrify sustainable, collective power and capacity for evolving our world. LaTasha serves as a COA reviewer, and she is a leader/member of various agency, state, and national advisory boards geared towards systems transformation, excellence, equity, inclusion, social justice, and innovation.
GRADATE STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE, 2020–2021 (One-year term)
Jenna Plakut Sullivan has always had an interest in expanding and protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. It led her on the path she is now, pursuing her master's in social work at the University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work. Jenna prides herself on taking on new challenges and opportunities. In addition to being a part-time student, Jenna works as director of development for the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. Throughout her career in development, she has demonstrated success in managing teams and other staff and providing leadership to internal and external committees. She is a results-oriented professional with an 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, and assisting in the production of large- and small-scale fundraising events. She has used her skill set in a volunteer capacity as well with several local nonprofits that work with immigrant communities and homeless youth populations, providing counsel and guidance to help drive mission objectives and strategies. Jenna served this past year graduate representative for the NASW-Illinois Chapter and enjoyed the position so much, she wants to do it again! Jenna shared her experience and input with the other board members and was member of the Young Professionals Shared Interest Group (SIG) tasked to help identify ways to engage recent graduates and new members of the NASW-Illinois Chapter. She aspires to become an LCSW and work providing mental health services to families and at-risk children, having special interest in the LGBTQ communities.
UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE, 2020–2021 (One-year term) No candidates were submitted by the election slate deadline.
CALUMET DISTRICT CHAIR, 2020–2022 (Two-year term)
William Dwyer, MSW, LSW (MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) works to leverage his experience to generate political change and provide empathetic constituent services as an emerging social worker. Billy currently serves as district representative for his member of congress. In this role, he has been an effective liaison for the district, working to navigate government bureaucracy and connect constituents with essential resources. Moreover, Billy facilitates meetings with stakeholders, represents the office at events, and coordinates select outreach initiatives for the congresswoman.
Before working for the congresswoman, Billy held multiple roles at the NASW-Illinois Chapter (NASW-IL). In 2018, he served as political organizer for the NASW-IL Political Action Committee (NASW-IL PAC) and as graduate intern for the chapter. On the political side, Billy built relationships with PAC-endorsed candidates and engaged social workers in the political process. Conversely, while working with NASW-IL, he provided administrative support for the over 5,000 members in Illinois, relayed information to stakeholders, and monitored event operations.
During the early years of his social work career, Billy has an established record of building relationships with diverse stakeholders and coordinating events while being an effective advocate for our profession and the clients we serve. While continuing his professional development, Billy is eager to pursue leadership opportunities aligning with his social work and political background.
Latesha Newson, MSW, LCSW (MSW, Governors State University) serves as behavioral health care management specialist at Blue Cross and Blue Shield. She is a fierce advocate for individuals living with mental illness and substance abuse. She also is passionate about children and families in the child welfare system which is an area she worked for over 5 years as an individual therapist, parent-child coach, and supervisor for an agency therapist. Latesha works diligently to protect and empower the clients she serves. Latesha strongly believes in leading with integrity, compassion, and hard work. She is committed to advocacy, social justice, and humanitarian efforts. Latesha embodies servant leadership and currently serves as Village of Park Forest Commissioner of Human Relations. She also serves as adjunct professor of social work at her alma mater, Governors State University. Latesha has been instrumental in bringing community awareness to “The Ban the Box” initiative regarding barriers to education for returning citizens impacted by mass incarceration as well as advocacy for children and families in child welfare. In addition, Latesha has served as interim NASW-Illinois Chapter Calumet District Chair for the past year and has provided education through workshops and presentations from experienced leaders in the field. Latesha is seeking to be elected to continue her efforts of building community and relationships among social work colleagues and providing relevant knowledge and awareness of best practices for current social problems.
CHICAGO DISTRICT CHAIR, 2020–2022 (Two-year term)
Michael Mallory, LCSW (MSW, New York University) is program administrator for site-based residential programs at a Chicago nonprofit. Michael has experience working with many different disenfranchised populations across the Chicagoland area. Michael also provides psychotherapy through a local group practice in the Ravenswood neighborhood.
JANE ADDAMS DISTRICT CHAIR, 2020–2022 (Two-year term)
Patricia Schofield, LCSW, CADC (MSW, Aurora University) is current NASW-Illinois Chapter Jane Addams District Chair (2018–2020). Patricia started her career as a hairdresser where she learned the importance of listening and guiding others to positive outcomes. Her success gave her the confidence to return to school to gain a social work degree. Even though she was referred to as a nontraditional student, she graduated magna cum laude and went on to get her MSW, LCSW, and CADC. Patricia started her career in 1992 as a mental health and substance abuse therapist but went on to gain a school social work endorsement. She first worked in Carpentersville District #300. A family move brought her to BlackHawk Area Special Education District followed by a move to Bureau Marshall Putnam Special Education District. She ended her school career by retiring from Princeton District #115. She has served on the local area land committee (LAN) and was a district board member for the school social workers organization (IASSW). In 2000 she opened a state-licensed mental health and substance treatment facility in Princeton. She was owner and clinical director of this successful agency until she sold it in June 2014. Since that time she has enjoyed retirement.
SOUTHERN DISTRICT CHAIR, 2020–2022 (Two-year term)
Sarah Basler, LCSW, CADC, CODP (MSW, Southern Illinois University Carbondale) has more than 20 years of clinical experience. She has worked in a variety of areas in the social service field including 15 years in the substance use disorder field. She worked with adults and adolescents in residential therapy, outpatient, and also as manager in the admissions department at Gateway Foundation. Sarah worked as civilian contractor with the Illinois National Guard to assist and support family members through deployments during OIF/OEF. She has also worked with children and family and youth-in-care. Sarah currently works in the hospital setting in the behavioral health department in the emergency department at Herrin Hospital. Sarah is a member of the Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) Trauma Behavioral Health Fellowship and has extensive training in trauma-informed care. She's also had extensive training in CBT, DBT, motivational interviewing, Seeking Safety, and Mindful Base Sobriety. She is also on the committee for the Southern Illinois Drug Awareness Conference.