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From the Pen of the President: April 2024

NASW-Illinois Chapter President Latesha Newson, MSW, LCSW

NASW-IL President Latesha Newson, MSW, LCSW (she/her)

Greetings NASW-IL Social Work Community,

I hope that this past month celebrating Social Work Month was inspiring. The work that we are doing is life changing and heart healing. I personally would like to extend my gratitude to our members for the tremendous transformative work that you do and your commitment to making our world a better place. You are valuable beyond measure. This past month, I found myself in a place of deep reflection and gratitude for the work that I have done and continue to do on behalf of the populations I serve and our profession. I also reflected on the work that is left undone in our communities and identified my part in making an impact. We have done so much to enrich the lives of those we have the honor to serve, but more work lies ahead.

In honor of Social Work Month, NASW-Illinois Chapter Executive Director Joel L. Rubin, myself, and Southern District Chair Dr. Diona Shelton, scheduled time to connect with our membership in southern Illinois. It was wonderful to connect with our membership at the NASW-IL Southern District breakfast on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. We had the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations regarding the experiences of social workers and the communities they serve in our southern region. We also had the opportunity to meet with the great social work faculty at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville where we provided a presentation and update regarding issues concerning the profession and our chapter’s initiatives and advocacy. We are thankful for the opportunity to engage and enhance our relationship with our schools of social work.

NASW-IL Exectuve Director Joel L. Rubin, Chapter President Latesha Newson, and Southern District Chair Diona Shelton with district members at a recent district breakfast at SIU Edwardsville.

NASW-IL President Latesha Newson with IL Governor JB Pritzker

Personally, I found myself to be very grateful this month in receiving distinct recognition for my work. I had the esteemed honor to be invited to the Illinois Higher Education Reception in Springfield as I represented my alma mater, Governors State University, as one of their 2023 Distinguished Alumni. It was an honor to meet our great governor and lieutenant governor along with other state legislators and leadership in higher education. Higher education has been pivotal in my journey of success and to have the work that I have achieved recognized and honored is remarkably special.

This past month I was also honored as NASW-Illinois Chapter President by the I AM HER Foundation for my work and commitment in social justice and equity for Black Women and girls. I can’t express how honored I am to receive this esteem recognition alongside Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Chicago Alderwoman Jeanette Taylor. Our chapter has been significantly invested in advocacy efforts for marginalized communities and dismantling policies that oppress members of the BIPOC community. As an African American woman, this work is so personal and vitally important. As I endeavor to do my part in advancing our profession, it is important to uplift, make space, and give voice to those who has been disempowered by systemic oppression.

Also, earlier this past month, the NASW-Illinois Chapter was selected to testify during public hearings concerning the implementation of the Consent Decree. Specifically, we testified on the need to swiftly implement these significant reforms and the harm that continues without the reforms being in place. As many may remember, the Department of Justice issued the Consent Decree for the City of Chicago in 2017. To date, the Chicago Police Department has only implemented 6% of the reforms outlined in the Consent Decree. Our chapter continues to advocate and support the reforms outlined in the Consent Decree. These reforms also are in line and reflect our chapter recommendations for police reform that were recommended by our chapter Task Force on Racial Justice and approved by our board of directors in 2020. 


Treatment Not Trauma

This past month, Treatment Not Trauma for the City of Chicago saw a tremendous win during a recent hearing before Chicago City Council. The work of the working group was reviewed and will move forward as we inform and provide a blueprint for the development and reopening of two public mental health clinics in the City of Chicago and the implementation of a non-police crisis response model. The official website for Treatment Not Trauma was launched this past month. For more information, visit the Treatment Not Trauma website. Our chapter would like to encourage our chapter membership to provide insight regarding mental health and infrastructure by completing this survey which will be utilized to inform this process as well.

In our chapter news:

2024 NASW-Illinois Chapter Advocacy Day

DEADLINE: Friday, April 5, 2024

We are extremely excited that this year's Social Work Advocacy Day will be held in person at our Illinois State Capitol! It has been 5 years since we were in person, and we look forward to lobbying with our state legislators regarding significant issues that concern our profession and our state. Advocacy is always a dynamic and powerful day, and we look forward to being with other social workers and student social workers from around our state as we amplify our voices to make change. We encourage our membership to join us on this transformative day. The deadline to register is this Friday, April 5th.

Register and Learn More About Advocacy Day:

NASW-IL 2024 Chapter Board Elections

NASW-Illinois Chapter elections are currently underway. We encourage our membership to engage in the process of voting to elect the next members of our board. Please be on the lookout in your email for the ballot. Voting will take place now through April 30th. Please read about this year's nominees in our article on the chapter website.

Accepting Nominations for the 2024 Social Work Awards

DEADLINE: Monday, April 22, 2024

Give recognition to a social work colleague! Nominations are now being accepted for the annual NASW-Illinois Chapter Social Work Awards! This year, we are looking for outstanding individuals whose work has supported and promoted the social work profession and the people it serves.

Nominations will be accepted for the following categories

  • Social Worker of the Year

  • Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Public Citizen of the Year

  • Emerging Leader

>> Request a nomination form by CONTACTING US and include the nominee name and award category.

Call for Presenters! 2024 NASW Chapters Virtual Conference

DEADLINE: Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Share your knowledge as a content expert! We're searching for presenters for this year's 2024 NASW Chapters Virtual Conference! Presenters are invited to submit 60-minute presentations on a diverse array of topics including (but not limited to) cultural competency and implicit bias as it affects the social work profession. Preference will be given to dynamic presenters whose presentations are creative, interactive, and audience engaged. All presentations must fulfill requirements for social work continuing education and should lead participants through discussions and peer-sharing about topics relating to social work practice. There is a maximum of two presenters per proposal. Presentations with more than two presenters will not be permitted.

>> CLICK HERE to learn more about submitting a presentation.

As we come to the close of Social Work Month and Women’s History Month, I am reminded and awakened by the words of the great Shirley Chisholm and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, two great women who made tremendous impact:

“I am and always will be a catalyst for change.” —Shirley Chisholm

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” —Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Have a wonderful month and Happy Spring!


Latesha Newson, MSW, LCSW (she/her), serves as university lecturer and BSW field coordinator at Governors State University in the Department of Social Work. She is a strong advocate for social justice and works to influence policies that create equitable and transformative change in our society. She has served on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors since 2019, previously as Calumet District Chair, chair of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Committee (DEIAC), and as member of the national NASW Delegate Assembly. In 2020 she served as co-chair of the NASW-Illinois Chapter Task Force on Racial Justice where the chapter’s final recommendations on police reform were reflected in the Criminal Justice Omnibus bill. Latesha believes that it is our social responsibility to create and effect change through advocacy, policy, and the advancement of social work.

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