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From the Pen of the President: February 2023

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

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

Welcome to 2023:

Hello again, NASW-IL members and social workers across the state of Illinois. I want to wish you a very bright 2023. 2022 was quite a year for the profession of social work. If you didn’t get a chance to read yet, NASW-IL Executive Director, Joel Rubin, shared some highlights from the year in his January Executive Director Pen, which you can read here. As we dive into the new year, NASW also welcomes a new national CEO. Welcome to Anthony Estreet, who will be our new chief executive officer for the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) beginning February 6th. Read more about Anthony here.


As a reminder, there are many opportunities to participate in events across the state. NASW-IL Events can be found at the following link: In addition, our Social Work Online CE Institute can also be accessed for previously recorded materials and more opportunities for CEUs as well as fulfillment of Illinois Social Work licensure CEU requirements.

Join the 2023 NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors:

The time has come again. Have you been interested in learning more about what your National Association and state chapter does for you as a member? Would you like to learn more, make a difference for social workers across the United States and beyond, share a new perspective, and even develop lifelong friendships with other social workers? I can’t speak enough to the most rewarding experiences that I have had since my time as a volunteer for the NASW-Illinois Chapter. Having been on the board in one capacity or another since 2015, I have learned so much and shared so much. The relationships that I have developed with social workers from across the state of Illinois and beyond has been invaluable. Now is the time to consider how your perspectives and insights can help us to strengthen the work that social workers are doing. Please consider yourself or others that you may wish to nominate for our Chapter Board of Directors. The 2023 Nomination Deadline is March 1, 2023. You can read more and submit a nomination at the following link:

2023 Virtual Advocacy Day – Monday, March 27, 2023:

Advocacy Day will again be virtual this year. Please consider joining us via Zoom for for this annual day of advocacy education with other social work professionals and students! Find more information and register at the following link:

So, there is a lot happening in our chapter! I have had my eyes open over the past year to the amount of volunteer work that is being done by our members from our board to our committees, shared/special interest groups, at our chapter events and so on. I want to say thank you to all of those that have contributed to our ongoing efforts to support the social work profession. I look forward to sharing more with you about the efforts I have seen across the state as well as providing an update on the continued work being done for our workforce grant. The NASW-IL Board of Directors will be meeting on Friday, February 3rd for a quarterly meeting.

Monument of Martin Luther King, Jr., carved in stoke
MLK Memorial

With that, I will leave you with a picture from the MLK Memorial in Washington DC and a quote for the new year from Martin Luther King Jr. whom we most recently honored this past month:

“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward."

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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