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  • NASW-IL Staff

2022 NASW-Illinois Chapter Elections

The 2022 NASW-Illinois Chapter Elections will take place from April 1–30, 2022. 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 (1-year term followed by 2-year term as president)

Latesha Newson, MSW (Governors State University), LCSW

Latesha serves in community mental health and is adjunct professor at Governors State University in the Department of Social Work. She is a strong advocate for social justice and works to influence policies that create equitable and transformative change in our society. She has been served on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors since 2019, currently serving as Calumet District Chair, chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (DEIC), and as member of the national NASW Delegate Assembly. In 2020, she served as co-chair of the NASW-Illinois Chapter Task Force on Racial Justice where the chapter’s final recommendations on police reform were reflected in the Criminal Justice Omnibus bill. In addition, she also serves on the community level as commissioner on the Human Relations Committee for the village of Park Forest. Latesha believes that it is our social responsibility to create and effect change through advocacy, policy, and the advancement of social work.

Robert J. Smith, MSW (Washington University), LCSW, BCD, FAPA, NBCFCH, CCTP, CMAC

Rob is board certified in clinical social work, psychotherapy, clinical hypnosis, addictions counseling, and clinical trauma. He has worked in clinical social work since 1979 in child/adolescent residential treatment, adult and adolescent inpatient, partial hospital, intensive outpatient, and outpatient psychiatric and addictions services. He has been in private practice since 1999, specializing in behavioral health and treating clients with serious health conditions utilizing solution-oriented individual, marital, family therapy, and clinical hypnosis. Robert served on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors as Northeastern District Chair from 2015–2017. He taught family and marital therapy, ethics, addictions counseling, mindfulness practices, clinical hypnosis, and psychotherapy as a member of faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital from 1999–2018. He is on the Allied Health staff in the Department of Psychiatry at Advocate Lutheran General and the professional staff at NorthShore University Health System Department of Psychiatry and provides psychotherapy to clients in his private practice.

Secretary (Officer position; 2-year term)

LaTasha Roberson-Guifarro, MSW (Washington University), LCSW

LaTasha believes all should aspire to make an indelible impact of excellence in our world. LaTasha has committed to being a thought leader and executioner of achieving systemic results in human service and technology sectors through learning, creating, and implementing solutions in collaboration with children, families, communities and institutions. She has held direct service and progressing levels of leadership roles in child welfare, clinical services, training, policy development, advocacy, program & risk management, strategic planning, 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 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 desired social impact results? She serves as a Council on Accreditation (COA) reviewer and is leader/member of various agency, state, and national advisory boards geared towards resource and systems transformation, workforce professional development and stability, race and LGBTQI+ equity, and affirming care, social justice, and innovation. Tasha’s ultimate aim is to electrify sustainable, collective power and capacity for evolving our tomorrows.

Calumet District Chair (Two-year term)

Samantha Allen, MSW (Governors State University), LCSW

Samantha has worked with children, youth, adolescents, and families in both inpatient and outpatient settings for more than 10 years. She believes in meeting clients where they are and giving them the tools necessary for their full recovery. She is certified in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). Her experience in working with diverse populations in the Chicago and the southern Illinois regions has given her a​ unique perspective in providing ​quality social work services to her clients. Samantha has a passion for helping on all levels, micro, mezzo, and macro. As a social worker in the community, Samantha is committed to advocacy, educating individuals on mental health issues, influencing mental health policies, and working to ensure that there is access to quality mental health services.

Linda McClerklin, PhD (Walden University), MSW (Washington University), LCSW

Linda prides herself on being a self-motivated, focused, and innovative leader with over 30 years of executive, managerial, and clinical experience in the field of social work. She has facilitated over 2,000 hours of training, workshops, and seminars that reflect her social work practice experiences and expertise. Additionally, she has worked with managed care and private insurance companies, private practitioners, population health management companies, long-term care facilities, and community and faith-based organizations to provide management and clinical services. She has gained a wealth of knowledge in nonprofit management, program design, grant/contract management, project management, chronic disease management, medical case management, care coordination, and psychotherapy (cognitive-behavioral). As clinician, her method of choice for psychotherapy is the cognitive-behavioral approach. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based practice that has been used successfully to help individuals deal with and manage depression, stress, mood disorders, adjustment to life issues, relationship problems, chronic disease management, and other stressful issues of life. Linda aims to build a legacy of excellence and quality services to the businesses, partners, and members she serves. All-in-all, through her personal and professional life, Linda upholds her profession to its highest standard.

Chicago District Chair (Two-year term)

Kimberly Gresham, MSW (Indiana Wesleyan University)

Kimberly works as intensive case manager in the Better Birth Outcomes program with Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Chicago. She provides support services to high risk expectant mothers throughout Cook County. Kimberly's goal is to help minimalize the mortality rate of the maternal and infant population. Kimberly believes that her care and support for this population makes a difference through education and community resources. After successfully completing her 3,000 hours of supervision, Kimberly has been approved to test for her clinical licensure. She plans to use the clinical license to further her dreams of founding a nonprofit for high-risk mothers. Kimberly's time outside of the office is spent volunteering throughout the city of Chicago. Some of her favorite volunteer projects have been with the Storks Nest pre-natal education workshops and the Chicago Food Depository.

Michael F. Mallory, MSW (New York University), LCSW

Michael serves as program administrator for several subsidized housing programs and behavioral health supportive services that serve individuals experiencing homelessness across the city of Chicago and suburban Cook County. Additionally, Michael serves on the board of directors for The Alliance to End Homelessness of Suburban Cook County and maintains his clinical work through practicing at a local group practice in the Ravenswood neighborhood.

Jane Addams District Chair (Two-year term)

Christina Steele-Lietz, MSSW (University of Tennessee), LCSW, LISW

Christina began in social work as direct care staff and a job coach in Chicago in 1994. Prior to that, she was involved in Chicago performance art/theatrical productions with her own company (Steel Prod) and many others, bringing to public for social discussion issues of child sexual/abuse, women's issues, gender and sexual inequalities, violence, and oppression (1989–1994). She came back to the Jane Adams area in 1998 and serves in the areas of Rockford, Freeport, Stockton, Galena. Christina holds diverse experience with DD, MI/BH, school, health care, pediatric, and geriatric, serving as direct care, management, clinical, administration, and policy. Her most satisfying professional accomplishment was as executive director and forensic interviewer for Child Advocacy Center, Tyler's Justice Center providing for Stephenson, Jo Daviess, and Carroll Counties. A prior adjunct and part-time instructor at Highland Community College, she will always have the passion to learn, teach, and be a part of the action of social work with professional peers and her community. She would be honored to be active in organizing and supporting these efforts with and through NASW-IL.

Southern District Chair (Two-year term)

Tiffany Blasdel, LMSW

Tiffany Blasdel is currently graduate student in the School of Social Work at Southern Illinois University (SIU) Carbondale and will be graduating in May 2022. Tiffany is trained in Brainspotting Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3, a rapidly growing modality used to treat individuals with trauma. Tiffany is currently in the process of becoming certified in brainspotting and has also completed specialized training in brainspotting with children and adolescents. Tiffany holds a bachelor’s science degree in ministry leadership counseling from Lee University. Before beginning at SIU, Tiffany worked for four-and-a-half years in child welfare—two in foster care, two in youth residential, and some time working at a children’s shelter. Tiffany is now completing a clinical experience at Cornerstone Family Counseling to work with children ages five to adulthood addressing adverse childhood experiences and trauma. Tiffany is also fellow within the SIU School of Medicine’s 2021–2022 Trauma-Based Behavioral Health Fellowship Cohort.

Diona Shelton, MSW (Saint Louis University), LCSW

Diona has a professional certification as a child and adolescent trauma professional and is certified as a clinical trauma professional through Evergreen Certifications. She holds membership with the Illinois Association of School Social Workers (IASSW), the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS). Diona has practiced as a school social worker in Illinois for over 15 years and enjoys interacting with youth and being a part of their growth and development. She maintains a private counseling practice in Troy, Illinois, and specializes in working with children and adolescents with a variety of emotional and behavioral needs. Diona is currently a doctoral student at Capella University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Northeastern District (Special election, one-year term)

Jacki Brunk, MSW (California State University, Long Beach), LCSW

Jacki has been working in the social service field for over 30 years, working in a variety of settings including residential, in-home services, juvenile justice, therapeutic day school, community mental health, and private practice. She began focusing on children and families early in her career through public and nonprofit child welfare organizations, and continued to home her skills within the early intervention field, finally landing in private practice. While Jacki predominately sees children, she has worked with people throughout the life span and has further contributed to the social work field by teaching bachelor’s- and master’s-level college students as adjunct professor. Jacki currently works in the private sector, treating clients with developmental disabilities and behavioral disorders, depression and anxiety symptoms, family conflict, trauma, and attachment-related conditions, and is trained in EMDR. She also supervises therapists working toward clinical licensure. Serving as a district board member would offer the opportunity to engage more with the social work community and other passionate professionals in the field.

Member At-Large (Two-year term)

Jennifer Gazda, DSW (Aurora University), MSW (University of St. Francis), LCSW, CMC

Jennifer Gazda has 20 years of experience as social worker throughout the Chicagoland area and has been a resident of the Calumet District area for 17 years. She began her career in 2001 in child welfare before entering therapy and medical-based social work. Jennifer currently serves as area director for Arosa, one of the largest national care management and home care companies in the US. Her tenure at Arosa has allowed her to assist clients of all ages and abilities, with a primary specialization in geriatrics, developmental disability services, and guardianship. Jennifer is also adjunct professor at Aurora University where she teaches master's-level social work practice and theory. She is a member of NASW, the National Guardianship Association, and Aging Life Care Association. Jennifer's research interests include resilience and identifying gaps in service provision for vulnerable populations. Jennifer has a strong background in advocacy and presently serves on the Illinois Delegate Assembly for NASW.

Nina O'Brien, MSW (University of Ilinois at Urbana-Champaign), LCSW

Nina O'Brien has over 15 years of experience working in a variety of social work settings including residential treatment, child welfare, outpatient counseling, and program administration. Nina has clinical experience working with veterans of all eras, including survivors of combat trauma and sexual assault. While serving as PTSD social worker and local recovery coordinator at the Danville VA from 2012–1019, she worked to promote whole health and recovery-oriented care within the VA system. She is a registered yoga teacher and launched a trauma-sensitive yoga program at the VA in 2015. Nina had the honor of receiving the NASW-Illinois Chapter Emerging Leader Award in 2019 for her work with veterans. Nina has been working as clinical counselor for the University of Ilinois since 2019 where she provides clinical mental health services to students registered with both visible and invisible disabilities. She also co-founded a private counseling practice, Willow Counseling LLC, in 2019. Nina enjoys training and collaborating with new and experienced social workers. She provides MSW Field Placement supervision as well as supervision for those seeking LCSW licensure. Nina is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and is currently pursuing EMDR Therapist Certification through the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA). She believes in the healing power of connection and enjoys incorporating interventions for the mind, body, and spirit into her daily social work practice.

Graduate Student Representative (One-year term)

Olivia Gerrish, MSW (University of Wyoming), LCSW

Olivia "Livvy" Gerrish (she/her/hers) is a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She specializes in working with survivors of trauma and is passionate about trauma and violence prevention for individuals, families, and communities. Throughout her social work career, Livvy has served as advocate, counselor, educator, and organizer. She has relied heavily on the research and development of others and chose to pursue a PhD in social work to help advance the field for fellow service providers.

Sedona Smith, BSW (Governors State University)

Sedona will be enrolled in the MSW program at Governors State University in the fall with a specialization in school social work. Her professional history effectively demonstrates her passion for the field of social work as she has served in various positions that have benefitted youth in both educational and community-based settings. Sedona served as a summer programming coordinator for the Boys and Girls Club of Stephenson County. She was also hired by Freeport School District #145 to provide bilingual tutoring services for elementary students. Sedona currently interns at R.I.S.E. Alternative School where she provides emotional and behavioral therapy services for middle- and high-school students. Further, Sedona has volunteered time at CONTACT of Northwestern Illinois, a 24-hour crisis call line, and at the Crisis Center for South Suburbia. Sedona has been recognized for her academic achievement on several occasions; she was awarded the Top Liberal Arts Student Award by Highland Community College, and she was the recipient of the Lincoln Laureate Award at Governors State University. Sedona has had exposure to policy work as a student representative for the Student Senate at Highland Community College and Governors State University. She has a particular interest in policies regarding immigrant rights and bilingual programming in public schools, and she is excited about the potential opportunity to develop her knowledge about policy practice and advocacy.

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