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  • NASW-IL Staff

From the Pen of the President: August 2022

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

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

As I write this, it is still July, and I’m looking forward to an event with whom we have collaborated with the Illinois Association of School Social Work (IASSW). This is the, “Resilience & Self-Care in Illinois Social Work,” event taking place on Friday, July 29th. If by the time you are reading this you were able to attend, I hope you enjoyed it! I just want to give a big thank you to our chapter executive director, Joel Rubin, along with the IASSW President Tiffany Nelson and Executive Director Tom Tebbe for working with me on this event. It has been a pleasure to begin a collaborative process with the IASSW, and I believe that our positive collaboration will continue. I also want to give a big thanks to our chapter staff member, Renee Facchini, for all of her help to coordinate this event!

NASW-IL leadership standing in front of Power Point presentation
NASW-IL President Kenna Dunlap Johnson, President-Elect Latesha Newson, and Executive Director Joel L. Rubin

Wow, a lot has been going on this summer! I had the pleasure of attending the NASW National Conference in Washington, DC, with Joel Rubin and NASW-IL President-Elect Latesha Newson back at the end of June. The three of us presented on the great things happening in the NASW-Illinois Chapter surrounding our workforce initiative grant. It was quite the experience.

I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the pain and suffering that came to us as one of our Illinois communities suffered a great tragedy. Highland Park, IL, experienced a parade mass shooting on July 4th of this year. Several people were killed and many injured. I want to take a moment to recognize all of those that stepped up to help at the time of and after this mass shooting. I also want to extend my condolences to the families who have experienced significant loss from this. Since this event occurred, I have heard and seen stories of social workers who stepped up one way or another to helps support victims and their families, and I just want to say THANK YOU to those of you that have served and continue to serve the needs of our communities that have experienced such great trauma and loss.


In July, we had several new board members come onto the board and many that went off the board. I want to express how grateful I am for those that have served on the board as well as those that continue to serve. It is important to let those that are just coming onto the board know how much their willingness to join the board is valued. That also goes to those that ran for a seat and were not elected. Joel, Latesha, and I have been working to connect with all new board members to get to know them and hear about the ideas that they have for NASW and the field of social work.


As a reminder, there are many opportunities to participate in events across the state. NASW-IL Events can be found on our Events page. In addition, registration is now open for our statewide conference taking place this fall. Please join me there! Register here.


Information has been shared on the Social Work Compact. The partnership between the Council of State Governments, the Department of Defense, ASWB, NASW, and CSWA will support the mobility of licensed social workers through the development of an interstate compact for social work. Find information, including the draft language, at the following link, which also provides an opportunity for you to submit your feedback!


Finally, I just want to share a reminder that as of July 16, 988 is now active. I know that in my own day-to-day work, I have been making sure to remind those around me in whatever capacity they are in, that 988 is now available. I have also shared helpful information from SAMHSA including the 988 Partner Toolkit to help promote 988. More information can be found on 988 at the following link through our NASW-IL website:

Thank you for all you do for the profession. The summer is certainly moving fast, and I will leave you with a quote that I came across from the 14th Dalai Lama:

“I pray for all of us, oppressor and friend, that together we succeed in building a better world through human understanding and love, and that in doing so we may reduce the pain and suffering of all sentient beings.”

All the best,



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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