It’s Election Time

Your Vote Counts!The 2019 NASW WI Chapter online elections for statewide and regional board of directors positions  will begin on Wednesday, May 15th, 2019.

Candidate statements and bios are posted here. They can also be read on the Survey Monkey ballot site.

To vote on-line you will need to enter your NASW membership number which was sent to all members via postcard.

To cast your vote in the election go to:

The deadline for the election is midnight on Wednesday, June 5th, 2019. 
All online votes must be cast by this time and all mailed in ballots must be postmarked by Monday, June 3rd.

Paper ballots request deadline: Wednesday, May 22nd.

Thank you for helping to make this election cycle a success!



Dafna Berman is a psychotherapist with Froedtert & the Medical College of WI, in Menomonee Falls. She received her MSW from Washington University in St. Louis and is currently pursuing an MBA with a concentration in Healthcare Management, at UWM. Berman is the Southeast WI Branch Representative to the Board and a Member at Large on the NASW-WI Executive Committee. She serves on the Chapter’s Professional Standards & Regulations, and Legislative & Social Policy Committees as well as the Chapter’s Task Force on Substance Abuse Certification. On the National level, Dafna is a member of the Expert Panel tasked with reviewing and updating the NASW Mental Health Policy Statement. Last year, Dafna was appointed by the WI Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) to serve on the Behavioral Health Review Committee. Dafna has over twenty years of experience in Social Work.

Position Statement:

These are exciting times to be a social worker! Our profession is one of the fastest growing, in a rapidly changing world. To thrive and effectively advocate for vulnerable populations, WI Social Workers need to stay ahead of innovations in an increasingly digital environment. One of our profession’s tenets is to meet the client where the client is. As digital technologies are becoming ubiquitous, it is incumbent upon us to embrace innovative practice models in the service of our clients.  An issue that is close to my heart is changing outdated State and insurance regulations that hinder us from effectively practicing our profession.  I am passionate about changing payment arrangements and models so that they better reflect our clients’ needs and accommodate what we know to be best practices. As president, I will continue being a fierce advocate for Wisconsin’s vulnerable populations, and the social workers dedicated to their well being.



Ms. Shelton-Williams received her MSW from UW-Milwaukee and is licensed by the State of Wisconsin as a LCSW.  She is the Quality Specialist at Aurora Family Service (Advocate Aurora Health Care) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her expertise is in mental health, health care, and child welfare.

A member of NASW since 1991, she has held various board positions since 2008(Southeast Branch Representative; Vice President; and Treasurer).  She is currently Co-Chair of the Diversity Taskforce. 

Position Statement: 

Social Work is very important; because it serves as a catalyst for change!  As Social Workers we are often the voice for the voiceless.  If elected to the NASW-WI Board, the assets I bring to the board to implement its strategic mission and direction are 20 years of experience in leadership/ management(leadership); 29 years in working with diverse, vulnerable populations (direct practice); and more than 10 years of Board experience(community).    



Miriam Oliensis-Torres, MSW, LCSW, C-ASWCM received her MSW from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  Throughout her 35 year career as a licensed clinical social worker and certified care manager, Miriam has focused on working with older adults, adults with disabilities, and their families.  Her areas of expertise include: geriatric care management, dementia/ neuro disorders, behavioral health, and developmental disabilities.

Miriam was a co-founder and owner of Geriatric Support Associates (1988) one of the first care management agencies in Wisconsin, and is now an Advanced Care Manager with Stowell Associates, where she provides consultation, care management, and education/training services.

Miriam has served on numerous local, regional, and national boards, including the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin, Aging Life Care Association (formerly National Association of Southeastern Wisconsin), and several local aging services organizations.  She is a frequent presenter at local, regional, and national conferences, was Adjunct Faculty at UW-M, teaching a clinical course in geriatrics, and currently volunteers with the Shorewood Dementia Awareness Workgroup.

Position Statement:

As a “boomer” who came of age in the late 1960’s, I was part of a generation which believed that our passion and protests would change the world.  To some extent, we did… our involvement in advocating for civil rights, women’s rights, and anti-war activities led to significant changes in this country.  However, the sense of victory was short-lived, as we learned that lasting change requires a sustained effort throughout our lives.  And now, at this time in history, the gains that we won are in great jeopardy.

As social workers, our role is to continue to represent those who are unable to advocate for themselves, support those who need our help, and speak out on behalf of our clients, our communities, and our profession.  I look forward to the opportunity to work with social workers throughout the state to further these objectives.

ERIN PETERSENErin Petersen Photo

Erin Petersen is in her third year of serving on the NASW Wisconsin Chapter Board of Directors as one of the Southeast/Racine/Kenosha Region Representatives.  She hopes to continue to serve on the Board as Vice President so that she can continue to contribute the skill set she has gained through her life, educational experiences to create change where change is needed. 

Erin Petersen will complete her MSW from Concordia University Wisconsin this May of 2019.  She received her BSW – Bachelor of Social Work at Concordia University Wisconsin in 2018.  Erin is a member of the Phi Alpha Honor Society of Social Workers.

Erin completed a two-year internship with Family Promise of Washington County, obtaining skills in practicing three levels of Social Work, Micro, Mezzo and Macro.  Erin has worked closely with the homeless population, individuals and families, learning the dynamics of how a Non-Profit organization functions, grant writing, and the importance of advocacy within a community, local and state government.

Erin has volunteered as a facilitator for both divorced families and families going through death, loss and grief, through Ozaukee Family Services in their Rainbows Program.  Erin volunteered as a Big Sister, through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program of Ozaukee County.  Erin is also a family liaison and advocate in Dane, Ozaukee, Rock, and Washington Counties for families and single men and woman facing homelessness, addiction and mental health crisis, divorce and grief.   

Erin is currently working full-time with Family Promise of Washington County in West Bend Wisconsin, as their Coordinated Entry Lead at Karl’s Place, the Singles Shelter Program for men and woman of Washington County.  In her position, she assesses the needs of people experiencing homelessness, within the community, and provides services using the strengths perspective on the Case Management team, providing counseling services to ensure access to resources and assistance in obtaining permanent housing, employment, healthcare, connection to AODA services and Mental Health Services.  Also providing Outreach Services to those individuals least likely to ask for help and connects her clients to the community and state resources available.

In her practice, Erin strives to care for the whole individual, mind, body and spirit.  She is committed to helping the individuals she serves build a tool box of knowledge, and resources, helping them reach their full potential, navigating the individual to the pathway of living their best life. 

Erin lives in Grafton with her partner Bradley and her twelve year old son. 



As a recent BSW graduate (May 2019) going directly into working toward my MSW my experiences are similar to that of many MSW students who are members of NASW. During my undergraduate studies I completed two separated field placements both within Milwaukee. While at  my second year of  completing my bachelors degree I was able to act as my school’s, Mount Mary University, NASW ambassador. Through this experience I was able to talk with NASW representatives about how to get students more involved with NASW- WI and social work policy. I also got the opportunity to participate in  the 2019 Lobby Day and act as a room leader when presenting the topics at hand to my state representatives. This experience fostered my understanding of many of the issues that Wisconsin state legislators are voting on that directly impact social workers in the state of Wisconsin. In the future I hope to continue to participate in these very important discussions as both a graduate student and beyond. In the fall I will be attending the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee as a part time student while working full time at the Department of Milwaukee Child Protective Services. My area of focus is community and organizational development. The combination of working full time and going to school part time makes me the ideal candidate for MSW students who are in the same situation as me. I also will be around a wide variety of students with many different experiences and needs as well and I hope to connect with many students to discover the needs of a wide range of needs and issues that students are facing.

Position Statement:

If elected to the Wisconsin chapter of NASW Board is Directors as the MSW representative I would act as a voice for MSW students who are members of NASW. I hope to connect with the members of the Board of Directors and foster conversations centered around how MSW students and the NASW can assist each other.  My tenacious personality and ability to listen to those around me make me the ideal candidate to act as a bridge between students and professionals who are members of NASW. Through my experiences as I student and work as a professional, I will apply the skills and knowledge I have gained to ensure that students’ voices are heard during important discussions at the Wisconsin chapter of NASW.


I am currently earning my BSW at UW-Stevens Point, where I also have a BA in Political Science. I am excited to attend UW-Oshkosh in the fall to earn my MSW with a mental health emphasis. In addition to my education, I have an extensive work history including case management in long-term care, owning an adult family home, job coaching, and teaching daily living skills to people with disabilities. My current employment is as an advocate at a domestic violence shelter. In my free time, I serve as a volunteer on our hoarding task force, doing clean-up in homes, as well as participating in a social justice group that promotes diversity and cultural competence in the Stevens Point area. I am eager for the opportunity to serve as the MSW representative on the NASW Board of Directors.

Position Statement:

I am asking for your vote to become the MSW Student Representative on the NASW Board of Directors. Growing up with my cousin who has an intellectual disability offered me firsthand knowledge on the struggles that people with disabilities face every day. This experience ignited a passion in me to want to ensure that individuals have the supports and services necessary to live meaningful, self-directed lives. Social workers often play an important role in this, and I am drawn to the NASW’s  high standards and invaluable support for the social work profession. As a non-traditional student with over 20 years of employment, volunteer, and personal experiences with a variety of vulnerable populations, I believe that I bring a unique perspective to this position.


My name is Emily Brooke and I’m a soon-to-be graduate student attending the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh majoring in Social Work and minoring in Women and Gender Studies. The motto I live by is “you make more waves staying in the ship”. I am fearless in the pursuit of this, expressing it through my undergrad experiences of serving as Chapter President for my Sorority whereas under my leadership and dedication my chapter was awarded 2018 Sorority Chapter of the Year. Additionally, through my experience as an Education Intern for the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh LGBTQ+ Resource Center whereas I worked to educate, advocate, and foster an inclusive University climate for the campus community. However, my greatest undergrad experience made waves far beyond Wisconsin borders, in which I flew overseas to the southeastern Asian country of Cambodia to complete service work for local schools and a wildlife sanctuary. Cultural Competence is often stressed in the Social Work curriculum, and this unbelievable opportunity developed that skill set while also opening my heart to a world away from my own. The people of Cambodia taught me we are all “Same, Same, but different”, meaning we are all human, we are all alike, we just come from different backgrounds, have held different experiences, but that’s which makes us uniquely us. I think this beautiful perspective of humanity is one I wish to carry with me not only throughout my social work career but also in life. In more recent waves, I have had the pleasure of serving as one of NASW-WI’s student interns whereas I worked with NASW-WI’s Executive Director Marc Herstand in advocating for policy reform that advances the social work profession and the vulnerable populations we serve. Independently at NASW-WI, I completed research and legislative work to advocate for the abolishment of the Tampon Tax in the state of Wisconsin. Through my research, I developed an extensive Fact Sheet that Representative Melissa Sargent has utilized to support her Hygiene Product Accessibility Act that promotes Menstrual Equality. Upon graduation, I plan on pursuing my Masters of Social Work with an emphasis in Non-clinical mental health. My long-term goal is to hold a Macro Social Work administrative position and potentially start my own non-profit organization that offers accessible, affordable, sustainable, and safe menstrual hygiene products. 

Position Statement:

As mentioned before, I want to make waves. Serving as the MSW student representative on NASW-WI’s board of directors would allow me to flourish and make those waves on behalf of the social work profession. As a previous intern with NASW-WI, I have valuable insight into the inner workings of our professional organization that I can utilize and apply to this role on the board of directors. My extensive worldly experiences, previously held internships, and passion for policy and legislative work would make me an excellent candidate to serve on the Legislative Policy Committee. Overall, I am interested in the MSW student board position in order to expand on my skills as a young Social Work professional, while also striving to bring a fresh perspective to the board. To me, Social Work isn’t just about helping the individual, it’s about helping the individual help themselves. Through this board position, it would allow me to have a voice in our profession to better reach that goal and enhance the profession and the clients we serve comprehensively. I cannot wait to continue to make waves. Thank you for your consideration in me for this position



I am currently a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire pursuing a double major in Social Work and Criminal Justice. I am a caregiver at Safe@Home Senior Care; I travel around Eau Claire and the surrounding areas to provide care to individuals in their homes. One of my favorite ways to spend my time is volunteering for Heartland Hospice, where I have been volunteering for over a year. I travel to see patients on Hospice care, wherever they call home, to help ensure their comfort. Along with this, I spend time in the Heartland office doing paperwork and am a vigil volunteer when necessary (I sit bedside next to those actively dying).

Position Statement:

I am eager to serve on the NASW WI Board of Directors to be part of a team who shares similar goals and wants to see change in the social work field. I want to better myself in the macro-level setting, as well as gain experience through new knowledge and leadership. I hope to bring my optimism and desire to help others to best fill this role. I am motivated to excel in this position to grow as a social work student, as well as to prepare me in my profession once graduated. The opportunity to represent other social work students is one that will provide many benefits. I am confident I would be an excellent representative for NASW.



Devin Thomas is a Clinical Assistant Professor and Field Liaison at Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She earned her MSW from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago and BSW at University of St. Thomas.

Devin is a Certified Advanced Practicing Social Worker with a variety of social work experience. She has worked extensively with the LGBTQ+ population, specifically with survivors of trauma, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation. Other areas of experience include housing and homelessness, child welfare and aging out of foster care, community-based services, and reproductive and sexual health education and services.

Position Statement:

As a Social Work Field Liaison at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, I am in a unique position with the ability to connect with young social workers at the outset of their careers. Further, as a seasoned social worker, I have also made strong relationships with a diverse group of social workers throughout southeast Wisconsin including Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Racine and Kenosha. If elected to the NASW Wisconsin Chapter Board of Directors as the Southeast/Racine-Kenosha Branch Representative, my focus will pertain to efficiency. I plan to use my position to connect social workers to both each other and to resources that the NASW offers professional social workers. I am dedicated to advancing the work of the NASW through advocation for social justice, equity, inclusion and upholding the professional standards of social work.



Debra Puzzo stumbled into social work trying to get non-profit experience after graduating with a Masters in International Politics from the University of Glasgow. The only organization close to where she lived was in mental health, and she fell in love with the micro aspect of social justice, which led her to obtain a BSW in 2018 and an MSW in 2019. Unable to leave the macro-level entirely, she recently completed her MSW-level internship with the Wisconsin Chapter of NASW.

Her macro niches of particular interest are immigration and asylum, criminal justice, and information technology and access—though it’s not hard to get her riled up about other injustices! For micro, she loved her work with refugees and immigrants as she did with her foundational internship with World Relief of Aurora/DuPage in Illinois. She also currently works in behavioral health.

For self-care, she enjoys reading, yoga, carbohydrates, and listening to too many podcasts.

Position Statement:

As a former intern with NASW Wisconsin, I recognize the important role of members in facilitating effective advocacy for our clients and our profession. My goal as your representative on the board is help NASW be anticipatory and adaptive to social and political changes facing Wisconsin in general and the Southcentral Branch in specific. I will bring a sense of possibility, purpose, and openness to your needs and perspectives to my role.



Nick Smiar is currently on the NASW-WI Board of Directors as Representative for West Central/North Central/Northeast Wisconsin and is also on the Law and Social Policy Committee. For the past twenty-three years he has done regular workshops on ethics and boundaries to help social workers meet their continuing education requirements under MPSW19. He is Professor Emeritus of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and currently Adjunct Professor of Honors at the same university. Nick has been a County Board Supervisor in Eau Claire County for six years and is currently Chairperson of the Eau Claire County Board. He is a member of the Steering Committee for the Western Wisconsin Organizing Cooperative of Citizen Action. For the past thirty-four years Nick has worked with social workers and child care workers in South Africa and is a Life Member of the National Association of Child Care Workers there; he also does workshops for social workers, child care workers, and social pedagogues in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Netherlands, Serbia, and Croatia.

Position Statement:

The focus of our professional efforts must be advocacy and political action. We are living in a time of unprecedented, outright meanness directed at the most vulnerable and marginalized persons and groups in our society, and we work in a profession which is constantly devalued by the political establishment which wraps itself in the flag and, at the same time, abuses and debases our democracy and our Constitution. In order to be heard and to be effective, we must constantly act in concert through our professional association and with strong conviction, often speaking on behalf of those who have no voice. We must increase our advocacy efforts even beyond our current high level, making use of evidence-based research and outcomes research to demonstrate the program-effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of social services, to shine the light on policies and proposals which are “penny wise and pound foolish.” Transparency in policy must be our goal. We must pay attention to “the man behind the curtain” and pull that curtain away. 

NASW WI Board Elections are conducted every spring. If you are interested in serving on the Board of Directors, please contact Marc Herstand.