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  • NASW-IL Staff

From the Pen of the Executive Director: November 2021

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

Joel L. Rubin, MSW, ACSW, CAE

NASW-Illinois Chapter Executive Director

Fall 2021 has been a very active period of time in the NASW-Illinois Chapter. Below are just a few of the many events and news I’d like to highlight.

2021 Multistate NASW Virtual Conference—October 21–22, 2021

Over 540 attendees participated in our inaugural A Meeting of the Profession: 2021 Multistate NASW Virtual Conference and included attendees and presenters from three participating states, Illinois, Nevada, and North Dakota. Many thanks to NASW-Illinois, Nevada, and North Dakota professional staff—Simone Law, Kyle Hillman, Nina Nguyen, and Kristin Rubbelke—for making these two afternoons of learning, exploration, and reflection a great success.

Update on Licensure Renewal

As many members are aware, the chapter was notified of an extension by the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR) on the current renewal period. A variance has been granted by IDFPR which now extends the deadline from November 30, 2021, to February 28, 2022. A complete update can be found here. We will continue to update the membership and the social work community on any news regarding this cycle’s renewal process.

Additional Funding for Study on Social Work Issues in Illinois

The NASW-Illinois Chapter has received funding from the Telligen Community Initiative (TCI) for grant proposal, “Strategies to Strengthen the Social Work Workforce Diversity Pipeline in Illinois,” to carry out our continued work on social work issues in Illinois. The grant design is to examine the following:

  1. Examine barriers to entry to the social work profession by establishing focus groups with under-represented communities, (Black, Latinx, Asian, Native American...) social workers.

  2. Reach out through in-person virtual forums to existing diverse allied paraprofessionals such as community health workers currently employed in the healthcare/mental health care field (hospitals and human service organizations) to gauge their interest in social work careers.

  3. Reach out through in-person and virtual forums to community colleges that would serve as a bridge to social work programs in the state; and

  4. Work with social work undergraduate/graduate programs in the state of Illinois to partner in developing this pipeline and recognizing prior community college course work and/or degrees.

We will be partnering with Rush Hospital in Chicago as well as working with the chapter’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEIC) in various components of the grant. The grant cycle period runs from November 1, 2021, through October 31, 2022. This is the chapter’s second grant from TCI which funded our 2020 workforce report, “An Evaluation of the Illinois Social Work Workforce: Challenges and Opportunities,” which was released back in March 202a and can be found here.

50th Anniversary Southern Illinois University (SIU) – Carbondale Social Work Program

Congratulations to SIU-Carbondale’s Social Work Program which celebrated its fiftieth anniversary this past month! NASW-Illinois Chapter President Kenna Dunlap Johnson and I had the honor of presenting virtual remarks at their celebration on October 15, 2021. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to travel many times to the Carbondale campus and have witnessed first-hand the importance that the SIU Carbondale social work program has had to the southern region of the state. Many of the close to 3,000 alumni have held leadership position in our association, either on our board of directors or committees, lending their practice expertise to strengthening the profession and the chapter. At our chater Advocacy Days over the years in Springfield, there was never a more pleasing sight to see than hundreds of SIU-Carbondale social work students in their Saluki garb advocating for issues important to the profession and the southern region of the state.

Additionally, here are some remembrances over this past month as well.

Michael S. Kelly, PhD

A giant in the school social work field and longtime NASW member Michael S. Kelly, PhD, died by suicide in early September. The author or editor/co-editor of 100 publications, including five books, Dr. Kelly was an international leader in the field of school social work. At the time of his death, he was a fellow in the translational health science training course at Oxford University and was preparing to welcome the sixth cohort of the School Mental Health Advanced Practice Program (SMHAPP), a professional development program for school social workers unique within the field. His research, which was largely but not exclusively focused on using survey methods, has impacted programs and policies. In one recent example in 2020, he worked in partnership with other colleagues to submit a United States Congressional Brief to inform the field of school social work in terms of the impact of COVID-19 in schools.

At Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work, Dr. Kelly served in multiple forms of administrative leadership and was constantly creating new opportunities for practitioners, colleagues, and students. He co-founded the Research Forum at the School of Social Work and was director of the school’s master’s in social work program earlier in his career. A passionate, committed, and beloved teacher, Michael has mentored hundreds of school social workers across the United States and Canada.

Timuel Black

Earlier in October, Illinois, Chicago, and the country lost a great civil rights activist and leader, Timuel Black, who was 102. Although not a social worker, his activism and advocacy reflect social work values of social justice. In a life that spanned over a century, he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., campaigned for Chicago’s first Black mayor, Harold Washington, and in the recent past, mentored a young Barack Obama. Back in 2006, Black spoke at an NASW-Illinois Chapter Chicago District event at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum (now the National Museum of Mexican Art) and signed copies of one of his books, Bridges of Memory: Chicago’s First Wave of Black Migration. I had the great pleasure to have attended this event and served as Mr. Black’s designated driver that evening, picking him up at and driving him home, which was even better than the presentation!

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and an enjoyable and safe holiday season.

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