• NASW-IL Staff

From the Pen of the Executive Director: July 2021

Joel L. Rubin, MSW, ACSW, CAE

NASW-Illinois Chapter Executive Director

As I was putting together my column, I referred back to my comments of July 2020 when the state, the country, and the world were in the throes of COVID-19 and the social work profession and NASW were embarking on a serious reckoning in light of the demonstrations around social and racial justice statewide and nationally.


Fast forward twelve months, and so much has been taken place:

As many of you have followed on our website and social media sites (Facebook and Twitter), during this past fiscal and program year that began July 1, 2020, and ended on June 30, 2021, the NASW-Illinois Chapter undertook a wide range of initiatives that have responded to this social and racial justice reckoning and COVID-19. These included:

  • A statewide chapter Task Force on Racial Justice to provide guidance to the chapter on how to approach racial justice initiatives across the state and propose effective measures of reform and increase accountability in policing. https://www.naswil.org/post/final-recommendations-nasw-illinois-chapter-task-force-on-racial-justice

  • Publication of the chapter's social work workforce report in March 2021, “An Evaluation of the Illinois Social Work Workforce: Challenges and Opportunities. Funded by the Telligen Community Initiative, the report identified the need to expand the pipeline of qualified and diverse individuals in the profession through higher education tuition support and to work with employers and state agencies to hire diverse workforce members (including social workers) as organizational leaders. https://www.naswil.org/post/nasw-il-publishes-workforce-evaluation-report.

  • Waiver of the in-person CEU requirements for 2021 licensure

  • Reconfiguration and expansion of key NASW-Illinois Chapter Committees: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and Ethics

  • Successful pivot to online professional development trainings: many of these trainings and many more were recorded and are now available for purchase on the Social Work Online CE Institute. For a complete list of all recorded and upcoming trainings with the chapter, go to the “Events” tab on our website: https://www.naswil.org/events.

  • Legislative/Social Policy: in spite of the many constraints of doing business n Springfield, the recent legislation session of Illinois General Assembly was one of many successes which are summarized on the website at https://www.naswil.org/post/2021-session-nasw-illinois-chapter-advocacy-update.

  • A fully represented Illinois Delegation to the NASW 2020 Delegate Assembly this past November and February.

Much of what was accomplished during this extraordinary past 12 months (and before) could not have been done without the involvement of our chapter board leadership, task force, and committee members.


Many thanks to Grisel Rodríguez-Morales who completed her term as NASW-Illinois Chapter President on June 30th. In the most incredible two years of most of our lives, Grisel lead the Illinois Chapter with aplomb and professionalism. Grisel will also be chairing our 2021 Awards Committee (see below).


Additionally, many thanks to our outgoing board members:

  • Lynn Zakeri, LCSW, Chair, Northeastern District

  • Mary Garrison, LCSW, ACSW, Chair, East Central District

  • Laura Hepp Kessel, MSW, Chair, West Central District

  • Jenna Plakut, MSW, Graduate Student Representative

  • Diana Alejandro, LCSW, CDWF, Chair, Three Rivers District

  • Kristin Rubbelke, LSW, MSW, Member-At Large

  • Kenna Dunlap Johnson, MBA, MSW, LCSW


I want to welcome our new and continuing board members that will be led by Kenna Dunlap-Johnson, our new chapter president. They include:

  • Kenna Dunlap Johnson, MBA, MSW, LCSW, President

  • Alison Leipsiger, MSW, LSW , Vice President, Budget & Finance

  • Hilary Edgerly, LCSW, Secretary

  • Latesha Newson, MSW, LCSW, Calumet District Chair

  • Michael Mallory, LCSW, Chicago District Chair

  • Melissa Box, MSW, LCSW, LSOE, LSOTP, East Central District Chair

  • Patricia Schofield, LCSW, CADC ,Jane Addams District Chair

  • Jenny Andersen, MSW, LCSW, Northeastern District Chair

  • Diona Shelton, MSW, LCSW, Southern District Chair

  • Becka Ross, MSW, LCSW, Three Rivers District Chair

  • Kimberly Palermo, MSW, West Central District Chair

  • LaTasha Roberson-Guifarro, MSW, LCSW, Member at Large

  • Adana Cranfield, MSW, LCSW, Member at Large

  • Angel J. Diaz, Graduate Student Representative

There is much going this summer and fall. A couple of important things of note:


2021 Chapter Awards

Nominations are now being accepted for the annual NASW-Illinois Chapter Social Work Awards! Please consider nominating a colleague whose work has supported and promoted the social work profession and the people it serves. Request a Nomination Form. The deadline is Friday, July 30, 2021.


Registration is now open for A Meeting of the Profession: 2021 Multistate NASW Conference on October 21 & 22, 2021. You can register at: naswmeets.org


Stay safe and enjoy the summer!

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