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From the Pen of the President: October 2023

NASW-Illinois Chapter President Latesha Newson, MSW, LCSW

NASW-IL President Latesha Newson, MSW, LCSW

Greetings, NASW-IL Social Work Community,

The past three months in my new role has brought about some major shifts and tremendous change for our chapter and profession. I am happy to note that we had our first successful board meeting this past August. I would like to take the time to welcome our new board members and continuing board members. It has been a great opportunity over the past few months meeting with each board member individually to learn of their passion and vision for serving on our board. I am inspired by their wealth of knowledge, expertise, and service to the profession. I look forward to continuing to build our relationship as a board and collaborating on our shared vision to advance our profession.

I would like to congratulate all of our 2023 NASW-Illinois Chapter Statewide Awards recipients:

  • LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Thomas A. Kmetko (he/him), LCSW

  • SOCIAL WORKER OF THE YEAR: Chelsea Laliberte Barnes (she/her), LSW

  • EMERGING SOCIAL WORK LEADER: Leyda M. Garcia-Greenawalt (she/they), LSW, MSW

  • PUBLIC CITIZEN OF THE YEAR: Raquel Rosendo (she/her)

Your dedication and caliber of work is remarkable, and I celebrate and thank you for your contributions to the profession. Special thanks to our chapter Awards Committee for selecting these exceptional social work colleagues.

We are currently in the final stretch of our licensure renewal year. Our deadline for licensure renewal is November 30, 2023. Be sure to take advantage of our chapter’s vast amount of CEU course offerings each month. As a reminder, the new requirements for this licensure cycle are as follows:

  • One-hour (minimum) of a training on implicit bias awareness.

  • A mandated reporter training with a section on implicit bias.

  • One-hour (minimum) of a training on the diagnosis, treatment, and care of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

For more information regarding the CEU requirements please click the link on our website CEU Requirements | NASW-IL (

I would also like to extend the invitation to our 2023 NASW Chapters Conference: A Meeting of the Profession taking place on November 2 & 3. It is virtual this year and promises to be a great opportunity to enhance our skill set by learning new practice approaches in our field while earning 11 CEUs. It also Make sure to register for this conference!

I am excited to announce that our chapter recently published our report, “Strengthening the Social Workforce Diversity Pipeline in Illinois.” I had the honor of spearheading this tremendous work and statewide study as previous chair of the NASW-Illinois Chapter Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Committee (NASW-IL DEIAC). I would like to formally thank our funders, Telligen Community, for partnering with our chapter and our vision for this pivotal research. Your commitment to our vision not only is helping to address the barriers within our state but is helping to identify common barriers within our profession and inform advocacy efforts nationwide. I would also like to thank Rush University for their partnership with this research as well as our chapter’s DEIAC who greatly assisted in the development of this research and facilitation of our focus groups. Lastly, thank you to our focus group participants for your willingness to participate and contribute to this remarkable research. Your efforts and shared experience have helped bring equitable change to our social work profession.

This month I received the invitation and opportunity as chair-elect of the national NASW Council of Chapter Presidents (COCP) to facilitate a roundtable discussion during two mentoring sessions with chapter presidents around the country on the topic, Social Work Licensure Changes in Illinois 2021–2023. It is exciting to hear how our work within our chapter is inspiring other chapters in our organization to follow suit in addressing the disparities and eradicating the barriers within the social work profession. I count it a privilege to be among such great colleagues and social work leaders as chapter presidents. We understand that this is a pivotal time to move things forward and understand our need to collaborate on critical issues of social justice to bring about lasting and sustainable societal reformation. I look forward to continuing our relationship together as chapter presidents in the shared vision of “One Association”. Special thanks to our NASW-IL Executive Director Joel L. Rubin for joining me to facilitate this important discussion.

The past three months have brought tremendous gains to the Treatment Not Trauma initiative for the city of Chicago. The ordinance officially passed out of the Committee on Health and Human Relations on July 24, 2023, and the approval for the development of working groups passed out of this same committee this past Tuesday, September 26, 2023. Our chapter and DEIAC have been partners and advocates with the Collaborative for Community Wellness for the past two years, and it is rewarding to see this vision come to life for a city that is in desperate need of restructuring. I am also honored that our chapter has been recommended to participate as committee member of these working groups. Treatment Not Trauma is a community care infrastructure for crisis response, mental health, and shared safety. To learn more about this model read the official White Paper here:

Our chapter is still looking for more members to join our new legislative committee. Please see the link below to find out more information and to complete our interest form. We look forward to developing this new committee as we endeavor to continue our advocacy and policy work.

I must turn concern to the recent migrant population seeking asylum in the city of Chicago. This past week, nearly 2,000 new migrants alone arrived in the city. We recognize the great and complex challenges this places on city and state resources; however, we must not forget our humanity and our responsibility to uphold our social work values by safeguarding the human rights of others. Hearing the debates regarding if Chicago should remain a sanctuary city is disheartening. We have a moral obligation to care for those who are most vulnerable and in need. I encourage us as social workers with a compassionate heart to not only advocate for the human rights of our migrant visitors, but to help in aiding with solutions on how to best meet the needs of these individuals and families. Our chapter recognizes and fully supports the human service organizations providing support to our migrant families and encourages other organizations to follow suit by applying for grant opportunities offered through the state to help meet the needs of our migrant population. I leave you with this quote by Albert Schweitzer which passionately states: “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”


Latesha Newson, MSW, LCSW, 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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