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From the Pen of the President: June 2023

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

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

Wow! What a whirlwind of a term with the NASW-Illinois Chapter! I am so thankful for everyone that I have encountered throughout this process as president. I will carry with me many new connections, perspectives, and thoughts for the future. I began my time on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors starting July 1st of 2015 as the East Central District Chair. I spent two terms in that seat prior to taking the seat of VP of Budget and Finance, then onto President-Elect and then President.

My last day as President will be June 30th, and my last official regular meeting of the board will be June 9th. It is bittersweet. After having spent 8 years on this board, I am certainly ready to be able to shift my focus a bit, but I will miss being a part of something that I know is so important. I do believe that the incoming board of directors will carry our chapter to new places. I can say that the relationships I have made along with the opportunities that I have gained from being a part of this board, I will carry with me far beyond my time as a chapter president.

Chapter Committee Work

As I said in my last, "From the Pen of the President," we’ve had big changes happening, and our DEI Committee has been a part of that. We welcomed DEI Committee Co-Chairs Samantha Allen, MSW, LCSW, and Chelsea Laliberte Barnes, MSSA, LSW. Since that time, Dr. Diona Shelton, DSW, LCSW, CATP, CCTP, has also been appointed as an additional Co-Chair of this committee. Dr. Shelton has been serving as our Southern District Chair on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors and will be continuing her term in that seat through 2024. Her leadership and expertise will continue to be a valuable asset for for both our board and our DEI committee.

In addition, I just want to send a huge amount of appreciation to the work of our chapter committees including the DEIC and the Ethics Committee (CEC), as well as the work of our Chapter Shared Interest Groups (SIGs).

CEU In-Person Requirement Update

As an update to the potential for change in our CEU “In-Person” requirement, I want to let you know that this is still not confirmed. NASW-IL put out an article to address this on May 4th, which can be found here. I have had many people reaching out to me to ask about this, and I just want to refer them to this article. As soon as there is a final answer and/or change on this topic, I’m certain that the chapter will put out communication on it in our “News” section of the website.

HB2365 SA1 – Social Work Exam Alternative Bill and Legislative Committee

You may be aware that the General Assembly has passed HB2365 SA1 and the bill is now awaiting the Governor’s signature. Once signed, the bill will go into effect January 1, 2024. The bill passed with a Senate Amendment which requires LCSW applicants to take the ASBW exam at least once before opting to take the exam alternative route. This legislation, which came about by outside groups and was supported by the work the chapter and the chapter’s DEIC has been doing around workforce issues and removing barriers, was not uniformly supported. Through numerous discussions around this process we learned there is a genuine desire from some in our membership to be more involved in providing local expert experience to help inform the chapter’s legislative process and a need for the chapter to further expand their communication posts to inform social workers sooner and to correct misinformation.

While our chapter utilizes member feedback through numerous channels including committees and our expert database, our chapter currently does not have a Legislative Committee. With that, it was discussed that we would create a legislative committee for the NASW-Illinois Chapter. We gathered sample Legislative Committee descriptions from other chapters and were then able to draft a plan which was approved at a most recent special meeting of the board.

The purpose of our Legislative Committee will be to advise and support the chapter on state legislative policy that the chapter may support and oppose during the annual Illinois legislative session in alignment with national policy, Social Work Speaks, and the social work Code of Ethics. The committee chair and members will be appointed by the NASW-Illinois Chapter President. The committee will be comprised of a diverse group of individuals, for a total of no more than 10 chapter members. Term limits will be set for all those sitting on the committee. More information will be forthcoming as well as an opportunity to share interest in this committee.

Incoming Board of Directors

As I mentioned, June 9, 2023, will be my last official meeting on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors as president. At that board meeting, we will officially seat the new board of directors and provide training on the roles of each seat. If you weren’t aware of our 2023 NASW-Illinois Chapter election results, you can review those here.

I just want to welcome all of those new and incoming board members and also send gratitude to those who are returning and/or continuing on the board at this time as well as those that are exiting. New (some of which are returning) 2023 board members include:

· Hilary Edgerly, MSW, LCSW- Vice-President for Budget and Finance (Returning Board Member)

· Melissa Box, MS, LCSW, MPH, LSOE, LSOTP – East Central District Chair (Continuing Board Member)

· Jacki Brunk, MSW, LCSW – Northeastern District Chair (Continuing Board Member)

· Roxann Camparone, MSW, LCSW, CAADC, PCGC, CODP II – Three Rivers District Chair (New Board Member)

· Kimberly Stoerger, MSW – West Central District Chair (Continuing Board Member)

· Anjanette Young, MSW, LCSW – Member At-Large (New Board Member)

· Vincent Cieslak, CDVP, CADC, MSW Candidate – Graduate Student Representative (New Board Member)

· Rayne Stokes, BSW Candidate – Undergraduate Student Representative (New Board Member)

In addition, I want to send a HUGE THANK YOU to those board members that will be outgoing/exiting the board at the end of their term on June 30th. Thank you:

· Alison Leipsiger, MSW, LSW – Vice-President for Budget and Finance, 2021-2023

· Adana Cranfield, MSW, LCSW – Member At-Large, 2021-2023

· Olivia “Livvy” Gerrish, MSW, LCSW – Graduate Student Representative, 2022-2023

· Sedona Smith, BSW – Undergraduate Student Representative, 2022-2023

· Becka Ross, MSW, LCSW – Three Rivers District Chair, 2021-2023

Finally, thank you to all others that will continue to serve their term on the board:

· Latesha Newson, MSW, LCSW – President (2023-2025)

· LaTasha Roberson-Guifarro, MSW, LCSW – Secretary (2022-2024)

· Jennifer Gazda, MSW, LCSW – Member At-Large (2022-2024)

· Samantha Allen, MSW, LCSW – Calumet District Chair (2022-2024)

· Michael Mallory, MSW, LCSW – Chicago District Chair (2022-2024)

· Sarah Birdsill, LCSW – Jane Addams District Chair (2023-2024)

· Dr. Diona Shelton, DSW, LCSW, CATP, CCTP – Southern District Chair (2022-2024)

Thank you to the members of our NASW-Illinois Chapter who put your confidence in me. I hope that you know I have given this role much of myself through the ups and downs. I greatly appreciate your faith in me and your work for the profession.

And last, but not least, I want to extend gratitude toward our NASW-Illinois Chapter staff. It has been a pleasure to get to know each of you over the past 8 years. Joel – I will miss my weekly phone calls with you to stay up-to-date on all the workings of the chapter.

It has been an absolute pleasure and honor to serve with you all!

I was able to go back and recap my time here serving as president for the past two years. A lot has happened. The following is a recap of events that I highlighted through all my “From the Pen of the President” articles:

· Starting my term in July of 2021, we were still moving through the thick of the pandemic and most if not all events were only being held virtually.

· Licensure renewal extension from 2021

· Continuation of the Telligen Community Initiative (TCI) Grant to address the Social Work Diversity Pipeline in Illinois

· DEI Committee and Workforce Diversity Focus Groups were held

· Removal of the ASWB Testing Requirement for Licensed Social Workers (LSWs)

· Rally to support the Anjanette Young Ordinance

· Many hardships including shootings in Buffalo, NY, Uvalde, TX and our very own Highland Park, IL

· Ongoing collaboration with the Illinois Association of School Social Workers – Thank you to Tiffany Nelson and Tom Tebbe for their ongoing efforts to collaborate

· Presented at the NASW National Conference in Washington DC with Latesha Newson and Joel Rubin on the Workforce Initiative Grant

· Social Work Interstate Licensure Compact was introduced

· We saw the introduction of 988

· Visited East Central District Chair, Melissa Box and CEC Chair, Mary Garrison at their agencies

· Visited the ISU School of Social Work program with Joel

· ASWB Test Analysis Results were released

· Moved back to an in-person Chapter Statewide Conference option

· Presented the 2022 Statewide Social Work Awards in-person

· Watched as social workers expressed opposition or support for the Social Work Licensure Test Alternative Bill (HB2365).

· General Assembly passed the Social Work Exam Alternative Bill (HB2365 SA1) with a senate amendment.

And so much more!

As always, I want to encourage you to stay informed and aware of what is happening in our profession and in the world around us. How can you continue to make a difference in the lives of others but also in our profession as a whole? I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes that has held much relevance for me over the past few years. This quote is from author A.A. Milne whom many of you may be familiar with as the writer and creator of the well-known character,“Winnie-the-Pooh:

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
—A.A. Milne, The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh

This quote holds true for me in many aspects of my life. I am so grateful for the time I have spent here with the NASW-Illinois Chapter and the opportunities that I have had to build connections with social workers across the state. Saying goodbye is hard, but I’m sure lucky to have had the opportunities I have had that ultimately make it hard.

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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