From the Pen of the President: June 2021
NASW-Illinois Chapter President Grisel Rodríguez-Morales, MSW, LCSW
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I’m feeling quite grateful for the time I’ve been part of the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors which began in 2014 as chair of the Chicago District.
This month (on June 30th) I’ll be ending my term as president of the NASW-Illinois Chapter. Two years (plus one serving as president-elect) that have been quite rewarding despite the trials and tribulations we’ve been facing as a nation and, as a result, as professional social workers. The social challenges we faced last year have given us a new sense of urgency. And I cannot thank the chapter’s staff, the rest of the board of directors, and members of our committees and shared interest groups (SIGs) enough for their unparalleled dedication and pursuit for social justice. Since I wouldn’t want anyone to feel left out, I’ll speak about several significant initiatives and efforts that we’ve been involved with and that I hope will show the meaningful work that happens on behalf of not only our members, but all professional social workers.
Advocacy is always quite rewarding! Each year we offer our members the opportunity to speak to state legislators through the chapter’s Advocacy Day. I’ve been fortunate to also engage in advocacy efforts in Washington, DC, and this included a visit to Capitol Hill in 2019 with dozens of NASW chapter presidents/presidents-elect and executive directors as part of the Association Leadership Meeting (ALM). ALM was a very thought-out gathering that included advocacy training and discussions relevant to our profession. Our delegation at that time visited several Illinois Congressional members to discuss federal legislation regarding social work safety and Medicare reimbursement rates. This crucial and unending work helps us advance the profession and to ensure social and racial justice. It’s great to know that the NASW-Illinois Chapter has and will continue to be active in significant legislative initiatives at the state and federal level and that our members will help us in staying the course.
Although achieving transformational change is hard work and requires great commitment, it helps when initiatives are aligned and the objectives are clear. It also helps when the work happens organically and with invaluable partnerships. That is how some of the initiatives I spearheaded happened, which wouldn’t have been possible without the support of talented board members, chapter staff, and some of the most passionate members I’ve come to know.
I’d like to thank the colleagues who were part of the Task Force on Racial Justice last year and that gave us an invaluable anti-racist roadmap. I look forward to the work that will continue through the chapter's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (DEIC).
I also want to thank the chapter’s Ethics Committee, an esteemed group of professionals who for years have offered invaluable service to our members. Their commitment to a diverse workforce and to fostering the growth of emerging ethics consultants is exemplary and will serve our members and chapter well.
There are many more individuals and groups that enriched my experience as chapter president. I hope these initiatives would make a difference. However, I’d like my colleagues to know that it has been the conversations we had and the moments we shared what has touch my heart and that will leave an indelible mark. It has been an honor!
Grisel Rodríguez-Morales, MSW, LCSW, is Manager of Health Promotion Programs at Rush University Medical Center. She currently serves as president on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors and is former Chicago District Chair.