• NASW-IL Staff

From the Pen of the President: October 2021

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

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

Welcome NASW-Illinois Chapter members to fall 2021. To me, fall is a period of great transition. As the seasons change, we begin to live our lives in a way that adapts to the new season. As the leaves turn and fall from the trees, our lives also fluidly change and move forward. As social workers, we are agents of change, and we know very well that change and transition can be painful. But we also understand the possibilities that exist for growth and opportunity to practice resiliency. To me, fall is an exciting time. I appreciate the change in weather that we experience in Illinois. I also enjoy the changing colors and the different activities that come in the fall. I hope that this change in seasons is a hopeful time for you and a time to embrace change and practice resiliency and self-compassion.


One event that I always look forward to in the fall is our statewide conference. A Meeting of the Profession: 2021 Multistate NASW Conference will be held October 21 & 22 this year. Unlike past years, this event will be held as a live virtual event. I have found that many events that I used to attend in-person have now shifted to virtual events, naturally during a pandemic. This is one of those changes that I have continued to work to embrace. I miss the opportunities to connect with colleagues (new and old) in person and enjoy conversation over lunch or meet up for dinner. I miss chatting with them in between CEU events to discuss what we learned. I have come to find that virtual events are just as insightful and educational. They offer a heightened level of efficiency in the way they occur. I’ve also learned that there are some very creative ways to connect and build relationships with colleagues during virtual events. I am really looking forward to this year’s conference. As I review the conference guide, I have found that there are a whole host of amazing speakers and topics to learn about. I hope to see you there from wherever you may be located on October 21 & 22 as we wrap up another licensure renewal year.


In addition to the conference, I wanted to take a moment to highlight our Upcoming Live Virtual Events. You may be interested in just obtaining a few last minute CEUs. Either way, these events have been excellent, and it has been great to experience them virtually because I have been able to choose from more of a variety of events. Even if the speaker is in Chicago, I can participate from downstate or during my travels for work. I have also been participating in district networking events, which have been taking place virtually as well. From chair yoga to conversations on what members would like to see from their memberships, these events have also been an opportune time to connect with colleagues, new and old.


Another change that we are experiencing in Illinois social work is that of the new Illinois LSW testing law. During my travels, I have connected with social workers that have not been aware of this coming change. I have also connected with students and colleagues that have had many questions. I appreciate that the NASW-Illinois Chapter team was able to put together an article, "Frequently Asked Questions Abou the New Illinois LSW Testing Law," which may hopefully clear up some of the questions you may have about this change.


Finally, I would like to wrap up and take a moment to congratulate our 2021 NASW-Illinois Chapter Statewide Awardees! Congratulations to:

  • LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Andrew C. Teitelman, MA, LCSW, ACSW

  • SOCIAL WORKER OF THE YEAR: Rosanelly Garcia, MSW, LSW

  • EMERGING SOCIAL WORK LEADER: Nathaniel Bossick, MSW, LCSW

  • PUBLIC CITIZEN OF THE YEAR: Julie A. Pryde, MPH, MSW, LSW

Thank you for the most important work that all of you do!


Until next time, I will leave you with a quote from the English novelist, Samuel Butler:

“Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits.”

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 now director of behavioral health for a rural critical access hospital in east central Illinois. In addition to her role as hospital department director, Kenna also teaches graduate and undergraduate social work courses for the University of Illinois and Mental Health First Aid courses for community members. Kenna served as East Central District Chair for two terms on the NASW-Illinois Chapter Board of Directors and currently serves as Vice-President for Budget and Finance. 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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