2023 NASW-Illinois Chapter Statewide Awards
This year, the National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter (NASW-IL) is honoring the work of some exceptional Illinois social workers and individuals whose work promotes social justice and social change with and on behalf of the people and clients they serve.
Many thanks to this year’s NASW-Illinois Chapter Awards Committee members as well: LaTasha Roberson-Guifarro, Michael F. Mallory, and Hilary Tharp.
Congratulations to this year's 2023 NASW-Illinois Chapter Statewide Award winners!
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Thomas A. Kmetko (he/him), LCSW
Originally from Ohio, Tom moved to Chicago to attend Wheaton College, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1961. He attended the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, obtaining his AM in 1965.
Tom held several positions with the Department of Public Aid before working for the Illinois Department of Children Services, holding several administrative positions. Beginning in 1986, Tom worked for several years providing mental health services.
In 1990 he founded Kmetko & Associates, Ltd., a child welfare agency providing interstate compact services to DCFS. With his staff, Tom has dedicated the last 30+ years to the agency’s growth, establishing it as a premier provider of services for the state.
SOCIAL WORKER OF THE YEAR: Chelsea Laliberte Barnes (she/her), LSW
Chelsea is a powerful advocate and storyteller who promotes compassion and justice for individuals and families needing support. After her brother's death from an unintentional overdose in 2008, Chelsea and her parents launched Live4Lali, one of Illinois' foremost providers of comprehensive harm reduction and peer support services. Chelsea provides support to teens and adults in private practice, and she has helped write and pass more than 25 state and federal laws to advance core social work values, such as increasing access to mental health services and addressing poverty, housing, equality, care access, and criminal justice reform.
EMERGING SOCIAL WORK LEADER:
Leyda M. Garcia-Greenawalt (she/they), LSW, MSW
Leyda is a Civitas ChildLaw Fellow and third-year student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
Prior to law school, Leyda attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she obtained her BSW and MSW. As a student, she conducted and published research on the family policing system, intimate partner violence, and juvenile criminal legal system reform. Leyda also served as Undergraduate Representative for the NASW-Illinois Chapter.
As a passionate advocate for youth in care, Leyda continues to work on legislative efforts to improve the welfare of youth in foster care. Currently, she is working with a team to ensure youth in care are guaranteed a right to counsel.
PUBLIC CITIZEN OF THE YEAR: Raquel Rosendo (she/her)
Raquel was born and raised outside of the US. She became interested in advocating for women's and children's rights after learning about the need of multicultural advocates in domestic violence. She has dedicated the last 29 years in helping families in their journey toward healing, recovery, and self-sufficiency. She currently works as case manager at Catholic Charities of Chicago.
The NASW-Illinois Chapter is proud of the work of Thomas A. Kmetko, Chelsea Laliberte Barnes, Leyda M. Garcia-Greenawalt, and Raquel Rosendo for their contributions both to the social work profession as well as their communities.