NASW-Illinois Chapter President Grisel Rodriguez-Morales, MSW, LCSW
Just a few weeks ago, I began my two-year term as president of the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors. I feel quite privileged to have received the vote of confidence of chapter members, not only now but also a few years ago when I served a three-year term as chair of the Chicago District. Getting to support NASW efforts to strengthen the social work profession and to advance the purpose and mission of our professional association is something I don’t take lightly. Working with our dedicated chapter staff and other board leaders who also seek to support our colleagues as they support clients and communities is a collaborative approach that also strengthens and elevates our profession.
My interest in giving back to our profession started very early in my social work career. While attending Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work close to 15 years ago, I remember walking to the NASW-Illinois Chapter office to let the staff know I was interested in volunteering. No e-mail, no call, but a personal encounter that allowed me to also express how much I loved the profession. Just like that, a few months later I was invited to attend the NASW-Illinois Chapter conference to monitor different sessions—a unique opportunity to service, learn, and connect with new and established social workers. I believe the experience undeniably shaped my career. The same way that presenters and social workers at that time welcomed my questions and follow up, I’ve tried to be accessible to students, emerging professionals, and colleagues from our and other professions. Sharing experiences and expertise can be very valuable. It can help us shape our careers, expand our network and knowledge, and even cope with stressors faced while trying to help others.
During my two-year term I plan to carry out an initiative that involves connecting with new and emerging social workers. I have great interest in revitalizing the Emerging Professionals Shared Interest Group (formerly Young Professionals SIG) that was started during my term as Chicago District Chair about four years ago. The new professionals involved in the development of this special interest group, as well as those who took part in some of the events and programs we offered, help me to appreciate a few things I took for granted. Things like continuous education (CE) hours, weekly clinical supervision, and networking opportunities. It was great to know that through their membership and involvement in this SIG, we were able to provide essential programs and opportunities that contribute to their professional development. My hope is to start this initiative soon, and that you reach out if this is of great interest to you and/or a colleague close to you. (Click here to get involved with the Emerging Professionals SIG, or any other chapter SIG!)
During our most recent leadership meeting, board members were asked about a single quality describing ourselves which past president Mary Gollings called our superpower. The power of collaboration and coalition-building were the abilities that without hesitation I found myself highlighting. Certainly collaboration is easily accomplished when working with others sharing our passion for and dedication towards our profession. That’s what I’m lucky to have in my fellow board of directors members. I’d encourage you to visit our website and learn more about them. In electing them, you’ve given me a dream team! We look forward to carrying out the priorities and programs set forth by the association and with you in mind.