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From the Pen of the President: December 2022

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, yet again, I reflect back on a year that felt like it moved faster than I could have imagined. I’m wondering why it seemed to move so fast for me. For others, maybe it moved too slowly. Either way, I am going to look at the new year as an opportunity to slow down and focus on what is right in front of me. I believe that we can still do the good work and fight the good fight as social workers when we give ourselves an opportunity to be present. So much has happened over the past year in social work. I hope you will take a moment to reflect on what the new year brings for you as well as what you will take from 2022.

2022 NASW-IL Chapter Statewide Conference, Board Meeting and Awards

I had the most wonderful opportunity to attend and be educated at the 2022 NASW-IL Chapter Statewide Conference. The in-person event took place in November, and there will still be the hybrid online portion taking place on December 1st. I was overjoyed at the opportunity to see people in person, network with colleagues, and just feel a sense of normalcy again when it comes to in-person conferences.

2022 NASW-IL Lifetime Achievement Awardee Linda Sandman and President Kenna Dunlap Johnson
2022 NASW-IL Lifetime Achievement Awardee Linda Sandman and President Kenna Dunlap Johnson

Prior to the conference, our NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors met for our quarterly board meeting. It was there that we held a very fruitful discussion on social work workforce challenges. In addition, we were able to present to two of our NASW-Illinois Chapter Statewide Awardees: Linda Sandman received the Lifetime Achievement Award and Lynn Zakeri received the Social Worker of the Year Award.

2022 NASW-IL Social Worker of the Year Awardee Lynn Zakeri and President Kenna Dunlap Johnson
2022 NASW-IL Social Worker of the Year Awardee Lynn Zakeri and President Kenna Dunlap Johnson

It was quite an honor to present an award to both very seasoned and accomplished social workers. At our next board meeting in February 2023, we will present two additional awardees: Emerging Social Work Leader Katherine Galloway and Public Citizen of the Year Niya K. Kelly.

I am so personally grateful for the opportunities to attend the statewide conference in person as well as our chapter board meeting. In addition, I want to extend my gratitude and respect to our NASW-Illinois Chapter Executive Director Joel Rubin and the NASW-IL Staff including Kyle Hillman, Nina Nguyen, Renee Facchini, and social work intern, Sydney Moreland, as well as to all of those that volunteered to help with the conference. It could not have run more seamlessly. Thank you to all!


As a reminder, there are many opportunities to participate in events across the state. NASW-Illinois Chapter events can be found at the following link: Don’t forget to take a look at updated CEU Requirements for 2021-2023 Licensure to see what you need. These requirements can often be fulfilled by attending NASW-IL Chapter events that meet those specific requirements.

Anjanette Young Ordinance

If you are not aware of the Anjanette Young Ordinance or have not read the NASW-IL Statement in Support of the Anjanette Young Ordinance, I encourage you to do so. I have had the opportunity to meet and spend time with Anjanette whilst at our national conference in Washington, DC, this past summer. Anjanette has shared her story with me and many others, along with her efforts to create change. Alongside the NASW-Illinois Chapter, I too will continue to express my support and solidarity with my fellow social worker, Anjanette. I thank the NASW-Illinois Chapter’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for their statement on this matter. As stated by our NASW-IL DEIC: “Although this legislation does not erase the trauma and harm done to Ms. Young and others who have been similarly victimized, the enactment of this legislation is a powerful move towards rebuilding community trust.”

Warm Wishes

Finally, I would like to wish you all a warm and peaceful holiday season and a very happy new year. I look forward to 2023 as an opportunity to start a new.

With that, I will leave you with a quote from Mother Teresa: “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

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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