2018 NASW WI Chapter Elections

Your Vote Counts!The 2018 NASW WI Chapter online elections for statewide and regional board of directors positions as well as NLI Chair and Delegate Assembly representatives will begin on Monday, May 14th, 2018.

Candidate statements and bios are posted below. 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 Monday, June 4th, 2018.
All online votes must be cast by this time and all mailed in ballots must be postmarked by this date.

Paper ballots request deadline: Wednesday, May 23rd.

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



Deborah Zemel has devoted her professional and private life to doing her part to make a difference. Most of her professional career has been within the Jewish community working with high school students, older adults and families, serving as the Associate Director of the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center.

But her passion has been working with older adults. Debbie developed the Jewish Community Adult Day Program in 1996 as part of her Master’s project. This program is still vital and growing…adding a brain health class, Memory Café and an early memory loss program.

Debbie has been the Executive Director of Chai Point—an Independent and Assisted Living Community for 12 years. During her tenure there, she has created an atmosphere that attracts older adults to live at Chai Point. She left with a 2-3 year waiting list.

During the past couple of years, Debbie, was the Clinical Director for Stowell Associates—a Care Managed Home Care agency. As the Clinical Director, she was able to advance the practice of Care Management.

Debbie has served on numerous boards and committees and has presented at conferences on successful aging. She is very excited and honored to serve on the NASW Board of Directors.

I have recently retired to spend more time with my growing family…grandchildren—the loves of my life! Now that I will have more time on my hands, serving on the NASW Board is truly an honor! I have always respected the work that NASW provides. In these challenging times, when social service agencies and programs are being decimated by lack of funding, it is more important than ever, to be involved in advocacy and promoting the importance of the social work profession. We as social workers make a difference—whether it is working with families, advocating for services, care management, psychotherapy, group work, or helping the disenfranchised. NASW provides a framework for us to expand our knowledge and provide the advocacy that our society needs.



My name is Jill Startz and I am a Social Worker in a long term care facility in Milwaukee. I got my undergraduate Social Work degree from Marquette University, and my Master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. I have been on the board of directors for NASW for three years. I am grateful for the opportunity to run for additional term as secretary. I look forward to gaining a knowledge base about all of the issues that NASW is a part of. Being in a long term care working environment, I always appreciate the opportunities to hear about the many other issues and experiences of social workers in our state.

It is a privilege to serve on the NASW WI board and the secretary position keeps me involved in the interworking’s of NASW, and on top of all of the current issues. NASW is so vital to us as professionals and I would really look forward to this opportunity to serve.



Ariel Peña is a full-time MSW student at the UWMadison. This year Peña was a family advocate (FA) intern at ReachDane Early Head Start (EHS). At EHS, Peña shadowed home visits, independently facilitated home-visits with a family while their FA was on maternity leave, attended meetings/required trainings, weekly mentoring, and Family Engagement Gatherings. For Peña’s internship change agent project, she created research-informed surveys to assess family perspectives, needs, and experiences within the program. Prior to this year, Peña received her bachelor’s from UWMilwaukee in Psychology with minor(s) in Japanese language, art, and international studies. Peña has worked in diverse roles including art therapy facilitation for children who lost a loved one, worked with a community in Cambodia on a school program and elephant refuge, drug and rehabilitation at a half-way house, and other powerful volunteer experiences. Peña has always been curious and creative by nature, and appreciates any opportunity to learn and grow.

The intersectionality of Peña’s identity includes her Hispanic heritage, communal cultural values, diverse family struggles and history, and personal experiences that have only confirmed her passion for social work. Growing up in Milwaukee, social and systemic injustices for oppressed minorities were diverse and took on different meanings, but were always apparent. Peña always struggled finding a sense of belonging, but since she shifted her professional focus to larger sources of oppression, she found her experiences shaped her purpose of macro social work. Peña seeks involvement with as many social justice groups at UWMadison and outside of the school, and is an active part of UWMadison’s Radical Social work group. If given the opportunity to be a part of the NASW board, Peña would communicate with networks in hopes to facilitate and advocate for not only her career interests, but the interests of her fellow future colleagues. Her goal would involve particular attention to experiences of minority social workers, and ways to strengthen a more inclusive social work field and practice.


My name is McKenna Joosten. In September I will be starting the Masters program at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with a mental health concentration. I have wanted to be a social worker since I was a sophomore in high school. Since then, my views of social work have grown. I love the chance to help people, but in a way that is evidence based. I have been involved in the Student Social Work Association at UW Oshkosh as both secretary and President. From that experience came my love for being involved. I enjoy both the micro and the mezzo aspects of social work. I have attended the NASW Conference and am appreciative of the work they do on behalf of the social work profession.

I have a few reasons for wanting to run for the NASW WI MSW Representative. One of my main concerns is continuing to have quality social work education despite all of the budget drawbacks and other political factors that our universities are dealing with. I think this is important for all social workers and students to be aware of. I am proud to go to school in Wisconsin and want our universities to prepare us for what we will experience in our jobs. Through my time at UW Oshkosh as an undergraduate I have tried to expand the amount of networking opportunities for social work students. Majors in the social service industry do not get as much opportunities for networking as other majors. I believe it is important for students in any year to have the opportunity to hear from people in their field. As an MSW Student Representative I hope to connect the concerns from students to NASW WI. I would like to work towards a bigger student representation in NASW.



Hello, my name is Abby Thurk I am currently a student at Viterbo in the Social Work program. I am from La Crescent, MN and graduated from high school in 2012. My mother is a Registered Nurse and my dad owns his own business, I have 3 siblings and I am the youngest. I was raised in the country and moved to town when I was 17 years old. I have 4 nieces and nephews and they have always been a huge part of my life. I am a determined person about everything I do, I love being around people and enjoy time to myself. I want to be a social worker because I have seen firsthand how mental illness and addiction can affect a person and their family environment.

I want to serve on the board of NASW because it would help me gain valuable insight into the world of social work that I cannot gain in a classroom setting. With my firsthand experiences I believe I could bring valuable ideas to the table and make a difference in the social work community. I have worked near the field of social work for 3 years and believe that the relationships I will build with other board members will be a valuable asset in my future.


Hello! My name is Kristin Dachelet, and I am a BSW student at UW-Madison! Along with pursuing my BSW, I am working towards a certificate in Education. I have always known I wanted to work with kids, and after taking one social work class I knew the social work path was how I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children and people everywhere! I have worked with kids in many different settings, such as a behavioral treatment technician for kids with autism, a volunteer for kids within the pediatric oncology unit, an adapted fitness swim instructor, and as the co-president of the Students for Families and Children organization at UW-Madison. I also have a passion for traveling as I spent the spring semester of 2018 in Rome, Italy working towards becoming fluent in Italian. I am a very dedicated and hardworking person, but also love to have fun and enjoy the simple things. My mom is my biggest inspiration, and also my number one motivator to reach my dream job of being a social worker for pediatric oncology!

I want to serve on NASW WI Board of Directors because I believe that as a BSW student I can advocate for the needs of the students, and also bring to light areas where the student participation can be increased. Many students are often passionate about wanting to address issues, or advocate for causes but are not given the proper opportunities or knowledge on how, as students, we can make a difference. As a member of this board I can address these concerns and search for feasible ways to get students involved. I am a very open-minded person, and always try to understand others point of view, even if it may contradict my own. I am also strong in my values and about supporting the causes I believe in. I would love for the opportunity to participate on this board, to understand the actions going into combating the issues facing the world today, and to provide a new, student perspective on policies, issues, and the needs of the students.



Dafna Berman is a psychotherapist with Froedtert & the Medical College of WI Behavioral Health Services in Menomonee Falls. Before this position, she worked at Jewish Family Services in Milwaukee, as a case manager, and as a psychotherapist. Berman received her BSW in 2000, from the Baerwald School of Social Work & Social Welfare, at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and her MSW in 2005, from the Brown School of Social Work & Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis. She is currently pursuing her MBA with a concentration in Healthcare Management, at the UWM Lubar School of Business. She has a Professional Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the UWM Bader Institute for Nonprofit Management. Berman is involved with the newly formed NASW-WI Task Force on Substance Abuse Counseling Certification. She is also an active member of the Chapter’s Professional Standards & Regulations Committee, as well as the Legislative & Social Policy Committee.

Social Work is considered to be one of the fastest growing professions in the 21st century. At the same time, we face many challenges, including the adaptation to a rapidly changing service delivery environment. To thrive, WI Social Workers will need to stay ahead of innovation and disruption in an increasingly digital world. Our political climate is changing too, leaving our clients more vulnerable than ever before. Over the past two years, I have spearheaded efforts in my organization to implement digital tools in Behavioral Health setting, to improve client outcomes and accessibility of care. I am intimately familiar with practical and legislative barriers that interfere with the optimal utilization of such tools. My goal, as your representative on the NASW-WI Board of Directors, will be to ensure that WI Social Workers are well positioned to harness the potential of digital transformation and evolution, to better reach underserved populations and improve outcomes for our clients.


Erin Petersen smERIN PETERSEN
My name is Erin Petersen. I am currently a student at Concordia University, going into the Masters of Social Work Program.  I have been on the Board of Directors for two years, and take my position as the Southeast Branch Representative very serious, and feel honored to serve among my fellow board members. We work together to create change where change is needed and work very well as a team.  

I have experience in all three sections of social work, the Micro, the Mezzo, and Macro levels.  
Through my experience in both my education and in my life I have built my skills around the NASW Core Values of Social Work. 

Service: it is my duty to the whole person, meeting their needs in whatever level needed.

Social Justice: making sure their rights are in place and find ways to get my voice heard and they are being represented.  Lobbying and advocating human rights at all levels of government, local, state, and federal, is my passion and I have learned I am very open to change, and can be persistent when trying to create change, where change is needed. 

Dignity and Worth of the Person: using compassion, empathy, and respect when working with a client is a priority to me as a person, and as a change agent. 

Importance of Human Relationships: Human Connection is what makes the world work.  Meeting the client at where they are and working through the strengths perspective is how I assist individuals, and families to create their best life possible. 

Integrity: I am a honest, hard working woman.  I hold strong values, in my faith, and hold myself to high moral principles and standards to give the my best quality of care through my work. 

Competence: I continue to educate myself, by taking classes, continuing education classes and training.  It is important to stay on top of what is going on around us.  It allows growth and change where change is needed, and provides our clients, but also ourselves, with the best solutions possible, but also allows room for discussion to educate others.  

It would be an honor to continue to serve as your Southeast Branch Representative on the NASW-WI Board of Directors. Thank you for your consideration.


Monique Boulware received a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and a Master of Science Degree in Business Administration from Cardinal Stritch University. She currently works at a Corporate Guardianship Agency in Milwaukee. As a Case Manager/Guardian Representative Monique advocates for her client’s best interests both medically and financially. Her role is to make medical decisions for persons deemed incompetent by a court of law. She also manages financial decisions like disposal of assets, starting a trust account and paying monthly bills. Her clients are very diverse in age, race and socioeconomic status. Her career in Social Work has included opportunities in Hospice and Drug and Alcohol Counseling with persons involved with the criminal justice system. Monique is a member of the continuing education committee with N.A.S.W.

I would like to be a board member because I believe in NASW, its vision and its mission. All of its goals have not been met but I wholeheartedly trust that they can be achieved. Over the years of being a member of NASW I have come to realize the organization is here to advance the profession of Social work and to watch out for public interest as well. That is something I can align myself with. I believe NASW operates with integrity and is acquiescent to its central purposes which are attributes I intrinsically value. I would like to be a part of helping to improve NASW and to make it even more accessible to the community.



ashley hoeftASHLEY HOEFT
My name is Ashley Hoeft, I have my bachelor’s degree in Social Work, from the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater. During my undergraduate program, I interned at the National Association of Social Workers Wisconsin Chapter (NASW WI), where I fell in love with policy advocacy and macro-level social work. At this placement, I researched and monitored proposed legislation, spoke with legislative staff regarding the impacts of bills on those in their districts, and worked to reach out and mobilize members. After completing my undergraduate degree, I began my master’s program at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee for my master’s degree in Social Work. During my master’s program, I worked in Milwaukee with women, children, and families and supported them in an advocate role. I organized, coordinated, and delivered a program for teens living in group homes throughout Milwaukee, focused on teaching them about safe sex practices and healthy, responsible decision making. I graduated with my master’s degree in Social Work in December 2017. I’ve worked with students to get college and career-ready, individually, and in groups. I’ve delivered various curricula and supported students in identifying their goals and dreams and worked to figure out how they intend to meet those goals. Today, I’m transitioning into searching for a job that’s a good fit for me, post-graduation. I’m passionate about advocacy and systemic change, at policy and organizational levels.

I’m running for the Board of Directors, South Central Branch representative position, because I believe that social workers, members, and students in this region should have adequate and accessible representation on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Social Workers Wisconsin Chapter (NASW WI). As workers in this region, the issues, topics, and problems that face this profession and these clients, need to be heard by those who represent us. I’m also familiar with NASW WI, with policy work, and working on a systemic level. As a recent graduate, an NASW WI committee member, and a passionate advocate, I believe that I am the best voice for this position, and will represent this region well.



DenDekker is an Assistant Professor at Silver Lake College (SLC) in Manitowoc. She oversees the SLC Social Work Training Certificate Program, chairs the Council for Diversity and Inclusion, and serves on the IRB and Assessment Committees. She has also taught at Marquette University and teaches for the UW-Colleges. DenDekker served three years as AmeriCorps*VISTA, two with Wisconsin Campus Compact, and one with Sheboygan County Health and Human Services Department. Under her coordination, the Southeastern Wisconsin Service Learning Consortium (SEWSLC) won the DPI Award for Collaborative Efforts in Service-Learning and the Governor’s Recognition Award for the Environmental Survival Summer Challenge. She formerly worked as a psychotherapist at The Wholistic Health Center in Sheboygan and now owns her own solo private practice. DenDekker earned a BA in International Studies (2004) and an MSW (2008) from UW-Milwaukee. She recently joined the NASW WI Legislative Social Policy Committee and is a member of Forward Sheboygan, a coalition of progressives in Sheboygan County.

In the current social-political climate, I feel called to work on a higher level. I have been a member of NASW since 2007. It was my aim then, as it will be in this position, to connect with my colleagues in their work as agents of change. I am a collaborator, advocate, and organizer and have fostered connection and understanding on numerous initiatives aimed at creating a more empowered and socially equitable society. I am eager to use my skills at the State level. Social work has been on the frontlines of social change throughout history and we must continue to live out the legacy of our profession. I will reach out to professionals in my region to understand your needs and bring your ideas to the table. Thank you for considering me as your representative and for all that you do to contribute to a healthier society and democracy!



Joan Groessl, MSW, PhD, LCSW earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work from UW-Milwaukee and her PhD with an emphasis in Leadership Studies from Marian University. Currently an assistant professor, Joan joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin Green Bay in 2008. She spent twenty years in the County Mental Health Services as both direct and administrative staff prior to her position with UW-Green Bay. Joan has been an active member of NASW-Wisconsin, previously served as President, and is currently Chair of the Continuing Education Committee.

NASW has been undergoing major changes and responding to challenges both to the profession and to the organization itself. I am running as a Delegate to share in that process, insuring Wisconsin’ Social Workers’ voices are heard in the process. I had served on Delegate Assembly several times in the past and was involved in the recent round of policy statement revisions for Social Work Speaks so have understanding of Delegate Assembly and believe I can serve as an advocate for members in the process.


I would be honored to represent NASW-WI members at the upcoming Delegate Assembly. I am an active NASW member and have been involved with Delegate Assembly since 2005. I was elected as the chair of the NASW Midwest Coalition representing an eight-state region at the first virtual Delegate Assemblies that convened in August 2008 and 2011.  The work of the Delegate Assembly is all about policy, policy policy! What could be more exciting than that? I am the past and current chair of the Wisconsin Social Workers Political Action Committee, past chair of NASW-WI’s Southeast Branch, and a member of the Legislative and Social Policy Committee, the Lobby Day Planning Committee, and the Diversity Task Force. I have also served on the National NASW Program Committee as an At Large Member and on the National NASW Delegate Assembly Planning Committee each for one term. I have served as a liaison to the Wisconsin School Social Work Association (WSSWA) board and chaired their Legislative Committee 2011-2015.  I was elected as a Trustee on the Campbellsport Village Board for three two-year terms and at the time, was only the second woman in the history of the Village to serve in that capacity. For more than 20 years I have been a volunteer child advocate and trainer for the Fond du Lac Conflict Resolution Center serving children and families who are involved in the juvenile court system due to abuse or neglect.  I am also a member of the Felmers O Chaney Advocacy Board (FCAB) advocating for the rights and needs of incarcerated and previously incarcerated citizen.  I was a Red Cross volunteer assisting persons evacuated to Wisconsin following hurricane Katrina and the breech of the levees in 2005. That year, I also received NASW-Wisconsin’s Distinguished Social Worker Award for my legislative and political advocacy.  I am currently employed as the internship coordinator for the Social and Cultural Sciences Department at Marquette University and am an adjunct instructor for Loyola University Chicago. I would be honored to have your vote.


Emily Kenney, LCSW has been involved with the NASW board since 2011 in a variety of roles, including Southeast Branch Chair, President of the board, and most recently NLI Chair. Mrs. Kenney is an advocate both for the social work profession and for the clients she works with and frequently meets with legislators and elected officials regarding issues that matter to social work, with a focus on housing stability. Mrs. Kenney also serves on the Political Action Committee for NASW.

I am running for NLI Chair because I believe that we are stronger collectively as a profession, and I want to foster professional connections, collaborations, and growth through NASW. NASW is the professional organization for social workers! I enjoy talking to prospective board and committee members and recruiting members for NASW, and look forward to continuing the growth and efficacy of our organization through nominations efforts.


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