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From the Pen of the President: September 2022

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

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

As I reflect on the past couple of months, I am glad to welcome the change of seasons. As the leaves turn and fall, it reminds me of the beauty of change in our lives as well as the scenery around us. Though often rather difficult, change is a constant in our lives. With that, there has been much going on in the world of social work. I recently had the most wonderful opportunity to travel to Normal, Illinois, to ABC Counseling. It was there that I was able to meet Joel Rubin, our chapter executive director, and East Central District Chair Melissa Box. Melissa is the clinical director for ABC Counseling, and it was a great opportunity to get to chat with her and see where she works as well as hear more about the agency. We then got to visit Illinois State University’s School of Social Work where I met their Director, Dr. Chathapuram Ramanathan, and colleagues. After that, Joel and I headed to Decatur, Illinois, where we got to visit longtime colleague and friend, Mary Garrison, who is now CEO of Heritage Behavioral Health. It is amazing to see the wonderful things happening across our state. This was an exciting day for me as I love to visit other agencies and settings where social work is truly “at work.”

Over the past month and a half, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to take part in conversations about our profession. As Joel Rubin said in his article from September, “The social work profession is at a seminal moment in our history.” I have taken a step back in my day-to-day to really think about this, take note, and gather perspectives as I talk to other social workers in Illinois and beyond. I am reminded that as a profession, when we come together, we have the ability to do incredible things with our minds and our voices.

As many of you are aware, the recent ASWB testing analysis results were released. I encourage you to read the NASW-IL Full Statement on ASWB Test Analysis. I am still coming across social workers during my travels that have not been made aware of this information or have not sought it out. I again want to thank the members of our NASW-Illinois Chapter Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee (NASW-IL DEIC) that put the full statement together. The results that were released are very troublesome. I have had the privilege of engaging in ongoing conversations since these results were released, including a recent meeting of the deans and directors of social work programs across the state of Illinois. In addition, the article on Effects of ASWB Report Results on Interstate Licensure Compact was released on our site in August. I also encourage you to read this and be aware of what is happening within our profession as it impacts our future in social work.

Finally, the time is drawing near for our annual NASW-Illinois Chapter Statewide Conference. I am looking forward to getting back to this! This event offers both an in-person option as well as a virtual option for participation, which is a great new opportunity for those that are either ready to get back in person or prefer the online learning. I know the association chapter staff and board members are excited for this event’s return as the last time we had it, there was not an in-person option. There will be a fantastic line-up of speakers and opportunities to earn CEUs including our more specific, required CEUs for licensure. In my experience, this is a wonderful place to network, meet social workers across the state, and learn more about ways we can advance our skillsets within the profession. Registration is still open. Please join me there! Register HERE for in-person attendance. You can Register HERE for attendance via Zoom.

There are always many opportunities to participate in events across the state. I have recently registered for several myself in addition to the statewide conference. All upcoming NASW-Illinois Chapter events can be found at the following link:

I want to take a moment to congratulate our 2022 NASW-Illinois Chapter Statewide Awardees:





Please follow the available links to read more about our awardees! CONGRATULATIONS to all!

Once again, I thank you all for your service to humanity and I wish you all the best of this wonderfully changing fall season.

With gratitude,



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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