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From the Pen of the President: April 2022

NASW-Illinois Chapter President Kenna Dunlap Johnson, MBA, MSW, LCSW

NASW-IL President Kenna Dunlap Johnson, MBA, MSW, LCSW

While February and March 2022 have not been without hardship in our world, there has been much for us to think about and even opportunities for us to celebrate. From Black History Month to Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day, Social Work Month, and Advocacy Day, we have had plenty to keep us thinking about the world that we want to live in and the opportunities we must continue to work toward for the needed change. I hope everyone of you had a wonderful Social Work Month and that you celebrated this profession and what social workers across the globe are doing for the betterment of the societies in which we live. The time is right for social work, and the need is most certainly great.

There has been a lot happening within the NASW-Illinois Chapter over the past month. I want to thank all of our district chairs for the great events that held virtually in March. We are looking forward to moving toward hybrid options in the future. For information on upcoming events, please visit our events page at I am looking forward to some upcoming events myself including an ethics training via Zoom on April 29th and a much anticipated training on revisions to the DSM-5-TR which will be held on May 4th, also via Zoom.

Thank you to the NASW-Illinois Chapter staff for their hard work and to all that were able to attend and present at the NASW-Illinois Chapter 2022 Virtual Advocacy Day. I am hopeful that this longtime loved event will be able to be back in-person in 2023. Either way, I was told it was a success. I was unfortunately unable to be a part of the event this year, but I am aware of the great opportunity for learning and advocacy that occurs at this event each year it is held. If you are interested in learning more about the ongoing advocating happening in our chapter, you can read our latest advocacy update at

Thank you to all who were able to participate in joining the NASW-Illinois Chapter for a rally to support the Anjanette Young Ordinance. You may recall Anjanette’s story which was shared back in 2020 by the chapter. The Anjanette Young Ordinance will improve Chicago Police Department search warrant procedures. Anjanette recently shared the story of what happened to her in an article, “Speaking Truth to Power: The Voice of Social Work,” with NASW-IL. We thank her for sharing her experience and utilizing this as an opportunity to advocate for change. Thanks to our very own Latesha Newson for being a part of this important event as well and for speaking up for the rights of others. A snippet of the event can be found here from CBS News Chicago. Please take a minute to watch.

With that, I’ll leave you with a quote on advocacy from Harriet Tubman:

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”

Thanks for reading,



Kenna Dunlap Johnson, MBA, MSW, LCSW (MBA, University of St. Francis; MSW, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) began working in the mental health field as a psychiatric inpatient mental health tech in 2004 prior to earning her MSW. After earning a degree in social work, Kenna continued on as case manager, therapist, and eventually, as director of behavioral health for a rural critical access hospital in east central Illinois. After that, Kenna went on to serve as director of admissions/intake for a 106-bed, free-standing psychiatric and addictions treatment hospital. She is currently vice president of outpatient services for a hospital management and consulting firm. In addition, Kenna teaches graduate and undergraduate social work courses for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Kenna served on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors as East Central District Chair for two terms, Vice-President for Budget and Finance for one term, and is now President (2021–2023). Kenna also serves her local school district as secretary for the board of education. Kenna is passionate about behavioral health treatment in rural settings as well as working to decrease stigma associated with mental illness. Kenna has also played a significant role in the NASW-Illinois Chapter Social Work Workforce Initiative as chair for the chapter's efforts to address social work workforce challenges and continue to grow and expand the valuable profession of social work.

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