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  • Writer's pictureNASW-IL Staff

From the Pen of the Executive Director: July 2019

I’m writing this month’s column at the conclusion of the Association Leadership

Meeting (ALM) which brings together NASW chapter presidents/president-elects and executive directors. As part of the meeting, chapter president-elect Grisel Rodriguez-Morales and I, along with national NASW President Kathy Wehrmann, Regional IX Representative Ruth Lipchutz, and the National NASW Board of Directors made several visits to members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation to discuss federal legislation regarding increase rates for Medicare reimbursements as well as social work safety. 

This is also the time of the year when we thank outgoing board members and welcome new board members. Board members whose terms end on June 30th include vice president Cheri Sinnott, ; Three Rivers District Chair Mary Abbott, Southern District Chair Jami Garland, Calumet District Chair Krista Woods, member at-large Sarah Gutierrez, undergraduate student representative Julia Swanson, and graduate student representative Tasheika Nash. On behalf of the chapter, I want to thank you for your leadership and work on behalf of the association and the profession.

As we say farewell to outgoing board members, we also say welcome to the following newly elected and re-elected NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors:

  • Kenna Dunlap Johnson- Vice President

  • Kristin Rubbelke – Member At-Large

  • Lakesha Newson – Calumet District

  • Mary Garrison – East Central District

  • Lynn Zakeri – Northeastern District

  • Laura Kessel – West Central District

  • Diana Alejandro – Three Rivers District

  • Jennifer Plakut – Graduate Student Representative

  • Thomas Bates – Undergraduate Student Representative

We look forward to Griesel’s leadership and input from all of our new leadership.

A special thank you to outgoing chapter president Mary Golljngs. Mary has been the paradigm for involvement in NASW, starting as political field organizer at the chapter in 2004 following her graduation from social work school, to a wide range of a board positions culminating with her presidency the past two years. During this time I also had an opportunity to watch a parallel leadership trajectory through Mary’s work at the Veterans Administration. And as I noted earlier in the year, Mary was the first chapter president to have a baby while serving their term! Mary will continue to be involved in some strategic projects in the coming months.

I am happy to note that many of the chapter’s legislative initiatives have either already been signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritizker or will be signed this summer. These include the following:

  • SB25 Reproductive Health Act

  • SB1525 Foster Apprenticeship Stipend

  • SB1888 MSW Licensure Speed-Up

  • HB1438 Legalization of Cannabis

  • SB1941 Grants to Hire More School Social Workers

  • HB3550 Teach Consent in Schools

  • HB246 Teach LGBTQ History in Schools

  • Progressive Income Tax Constitutional Amendment

Thank you to Kyle Hillman, director of legislative affairs, for all of advocacy efforts on these bills, as well as the many members who reached out to elected officials about this legislation.

NASW Member Referral Campaign

During the summer, the NASW will be embarking on a Member Referral Campaign in which we will be asking committed NASW members to invite their social work friends and colleagues to join the association and strengthen the profession. By increasing our ranks, we can make our advocacy voice louder to elevate social work and make a bigger impact for the communities we serve. I hope many of you will be willing to participate in this campaign.

Savi Student Loan Tool

National NASW has partnered with Savi, an innovative student loan technology company, to help our members tackle student debt. Through our partnership, you now have free access to Savi's Student Loan Tool, which helps you analyze repayment and forgiveness programs to determine the best solution for you, and helps you enroll in appropriate programs that could lower your monthly payments. If you elect to sign up for Savi’s “Essential” premium service, which includes application monitoring, auto-enrollment paperwork, and unlimited access to 1-1 support with Savi student loan experts, you will receive a 70% discount on that service as an NASW member. Start your free Savi accountto see how your current student loans compare to other repayment options. Access additional resources to help you understand and manage your student loans.

2019 NASW-Illinois Chapter Statewide Conference

You can get a head start and save money by registering for the chapter’s 2019 statewide conference that will be taking place November 5–7, 2019. Complete conference information can be found on our website.

Enjoy your summer and be sure to take advantage of the many CEU opportunities being offered across the state.


Joel L. Rubin, MSW, ACSW, CAE, has served as executive director of the 7,000 member Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) since October 1999. He has over twenty-five years of nonprofit management and fundraising experience including extensive work with boards o

directors, committees and volunteers, and advocacy around a wide variety of social work, human service, and international political issues. Joel is a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Fellowship Leadership Program and a current adjunct professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Addams College of Social Work as well as Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work.

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