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From the Pen of the President: June 2024

NASW-Illinois Chapter President Latesha Newson, MSW, LCSW


NASW-IL President Latesha Newson, MSW, LCSW (she/her)

Greetings NASW-IL Social Work Community,


I would like to acknowledge and celebrate our social work graduates in the class of 2024. This is indeed an exciting time as you have finished your academic studies and are launching out into the social work profession. I lend to you this wisdom:


  • Always remember your “why.” It is your why that will empower and continuously reignite your passion to meet the needs of the individuals that you serve.

  • Remember your responsibility to always uphold our social work values and ethics in your practice, to ensure that we as professionals are not harming those most vulnerable.

  • Remember that you are significant and needed within our profession, so practice good self-care! As social workers we are natural givers, so it is vital that you surround yourself with people and places that restore you.

  • Be the change that we so desperately need! It is true, you are coming into the profession at a pivotal time that comes with its own unique challenges, but remember that you are graced for it! Remember that someone needs your voice of advocacy and your agency to make change on their behalf. I am constantly reminded of the thought-provoking words of Illinois State Senator Robert Peters whose words of wisdom years ago still inspire me as a change agent. “In order to effect change, create a tsunami, slow ripples that lead to deep waves.” Let these words inspire you as you forge ahead to make lasting change in our society.

  • Be encouraged because change takes time—but with your passion, commitment, and perseverance, you will see change actualized in the individuals, families, and communities you serve. So stay the course, and go the distance!

  • Finally, stay connected to our social work community through continued participation and possible service to our chapter. Our chapter is very invested in cultivating and enriching the skillsets of our social work membership through various professional development trainings. Continued involvement also offers opportunities for participation within our chapter committees and begins to develop your skills as a social work leader. Our chapter is currently recruiting for our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Belonging (DEIAB) and Ethics Committees. If you are passionate about fostering change in our profession, we invite you to express your interest by contacting the chapter.


Treatment Not Trauma

This past month our work within the working group for Treatment Not Trauma for the city of Chicago has come to completion, with final recommendations being delivered to Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration for implementation. It has been an honor to be a part of the journey of Treatment Not Trauma over the past 3 years in partnership with the Collaborative for Community Wellness. This work is a true testament of the power and strength of advocacy, collaboration, and coalition building. Special thank you to our chapter’s DEIAB Committee who played a pivotal role informing and advocating for Treatment Not Trauma. Our tremendous work now lives on to help transform a city by ensuring that all individuals in the city of Chicago have access to equitable public mental healthcare services and fostering community safety and wellness throughout Chicago. I would also like to thank our membership that participated in completion of the Treatment Not Trauma survey and/or attended the various community listening sessions around Chicago. Your insight and input is reflected in the official report that was recently released by the Collaborative for Community Wellness. Lastly, our chapter would like to thank Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration for the official appointment to the working group and our partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health as they move forward with recruitment, hiring, and retention plans for the mental health clinical expansion and alternate response to mental health crisis. Our chapter looks forward to continuing our relationship with the city of Chicago and uplifting and supporting Mayor Johnson’s vision of building “a better, stronger, safer Chicago.”


The work of the working group moves forward as we inform and provide a blueprint for the development and reopening of two public mental health clinics in Chicago and the implementation of a non-police crisis response model. For more information and updates on Treatment Not Trauma, visit the city of Chicago’s official website Home (chicago.gov) 


As I am approaching the completion of my first year as president of our chapter, I find myself reflecting. Like any new position, it has been met with its challenges and triumphs; however, I am grateful for this leadership position and opportunity to serve alongside the great individuals on our board and within our chapter. Your support over the past year has been tremendous and greatly appreciated. Thank you for your faith in my leadership and partnering to help strengthen and set a precedence, as our late NASW Regional Director Anthony “Tony” Bibus would say, “Illinois leading the way.” To our fellow board members who are transitioning from the board, thank you! Your service and commitment have been essential to the work that we have accomplished together, and I value the relationships that we have built and intend for our relationships to continue beyond this time together. To our newly elected board members who will soon join us, we welcome you and thank you for stepping up to the role of leadership and look forward to your service and a great collaboration.


As I forge ahead into my second year as president, I look forward to continuing our work as a chapter and leaving a lasting impact within our social work profession. I also look forward to taking on the new role as chair of The Council on Chapter Presidents (COCP) within our national organization. For the past year, I have served on this committee in the position as chair elect which has afforded me the opportunity to build relationships with other chapter presidents and presidents-elect around the country. I look forward to furthering fostering these relationships and collaborating with our national office.


Have a wonderful month, and welcome to summer!

 

Latesha Newson, MSW, LCSW (she/her), serves as university lecturer and BSW field coordinator at Governors State University in the Department of Social Work. She is a strong advocate for social justice and works to influence policies that create equitable and transformative change in our society. She has served on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors since 2019, previously as Calumet District Chair, chair of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Committee (DEIAC), and as member of the national NASW Delegate Assembly. In 2020 she served as co-chair of the NASW-Illinois Chapter Task Force on Racial Justice where the chapter’s final recommendations on police reform were reflected in the Criminal Justice Omnibus bill. Latesha believes that it is our social responsibility to create and effect change through advocacy, policy, and the advancement of social work.

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