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From the Pen of the President: December 2021

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

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

As another year comes to a close, there is time to reflect on what we have learned over the entirety of 2021. From the ways that a pandemic has changed our lives to healthcare needs, the need for equity and increased awareness surrounding a multitude of social issues across our world, 2021 has been eye-opening for many.

2021 Multistate NASW Virtual Conference

At the NASW-Illinois Chapter, we held the A Meeting of the Profession: 2021 Multistate NASW Conference in October. This entirely virtual conference provided for us to earn up to 8 CEUs. A multitude of speakers and participants took part in this two-day event. There were a large variety of topics, many of which included focus on special social work continuing education requirements including cultural competency, ethics, and sexual harassment prevention. I want to give a HUGE shout out here to our fabulous NASW-Illinois Chapter staff who organized and moderated this event. After almost two years of living in the world of Zoom, I think that we have learned the value of having support to address technological needs. Certainly as social workers, we have many tools in our own toolboxes to address the challenges that may come along with technology. The way that the NASW-IL team so patiently assisted speakers and participants who were experiencing a minimal amount of tech-related issues was phenomenal. Thank you to Kyle, Nina, Simone, Kristin, and Joel! I do look forward to our 2022 conference, whether virtual or in-person, and I hope you will join me next fall.

2019–2021 Licensure Renewal

I also wanted to address Illinois social work licensure renewals. As many of you are aware, our renewal period was extended due to a change in the IDFPR renewal portal. The renewal option for both the LSW and LCSW licensure is now available on the IDFPR Renewal Portal Website. In addition, it was previously announced that we will have until February 28, 2022 to renew as well as to acquire continuing education units (CEUs). Please read more information on this at the following links:

Telligen Community Initiative (TCI) Grant – Strategies to Strengthen the Social Work Workforce Diversity Pipeline in Illinois

The NASW-Illinois Chapter is excited to have been chosen to receive funding again to carry out the most important work of addressing workforce issues within the field of social work. More information on this grant and the work that will be occurring will be forthcoming. For now, we are still in the early stages, although you can read more in NASW-Illinois Chapter Executive Director Joel Rubin’s November “From the Pen of the Executive Director” report.

I wish you all a warm and safe holiday season and a wondrous new year. I look forward to welcoming 2022 as a year full of purpose and determination where we will utilize our strength together to continue to grow through any storms of adversity.

I will leave you with a short quote for moving into the new year, from the author of Americanah and Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: "Life is short," really means, "Do something.”


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 now director of behavioral health for a rural critical access hospital in east central Illinois. In addition to her role as hospital department director, Kenna also teaches graduate and undergraduate social work courses for the University of Illinois and Mental Health First Aid courses for community members. Kenna served as East Central District Chair for two terms on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors and currently serves as Vice-President for Budget and Finance. 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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