2022 Board of Directors Election

The 2022 NASW-WI Chapter online elections for statewide and regional board of director positions will begin on Monday, May 16th, 2022.

To vote online you will need to enter your NASW membership number. Candidate statements and bios are posted below . They will also be available at the ballot site.

To cast your vote in the election, beginning May 16th, go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NASWWI2022ELECT

If you would like to request a paper ballot, please contact the NASW-WI office by Monday, May 23rd.
If you have any additional questions, call toll free in WI at 
866-462-7994, or 608-257-6334, or email admin.naswwi@socialworkers.org.

The deadline for the election is midnight on Friday, June 3rd, 2022. All online votes must be cast by this time and all mailed in ballots must be postmarked by this date.

Vice President

Miriam smaller-10

Miriam Oliensis-Torres, MSW, LCSW, C-ASWCM

Miriam is a licensed clinical social worker and certified care manager. She received her BS in Rehabilitation Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her MSW from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

She has worked with older adults, people living with dementia, adults with disabilities and chronic health needs, their families, and service providers, since 1981.Her areas of expertise include: family dynamics, Alzheimer’s Disease/dementia, behavioral health, and future care planning.

Miriam has been a geriatric care manager/ aging life care manager for much of her career: she was the co-founder and president of Geriatric Support Associates (1988-2012), subsequently joining Stowell Associates as Clinical Director and Advanced Care Manager (2012-2020). She continues her work as an aging life care professional/geriatric care manager in her independent practice.

Miriam currently serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Wisconsin Chapter, and Chairs the Peer Review Committee for the national care management professional organization, Aging Life Care Association.

She has been involved in a variety of professional development activities throughout her career, including service on national, regional, and local boards and committees, and is a frequent presenter at professional education and community service events.

Position Statement

As I reflect on preparing this statement regarding why I want to be on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Chapter of NASW, I recall one of many lessons I’ve learned throughout my 30-year career as a social worker: ‘For every problem, there is a solution that is easy, simple, quick…. and wrong”.

Being a social worker has provided me with the opportunity to use that lesson with my clients, supporting them as they deal with complex challenges in their lives, on a daily basis. Being on the Board has enabled me to use that lesson – and many others I’ve learned throughout the years – to look beyond the issues faced by my clients, and collaborate with other social workers to address complex issues that face our collective clients, us as social workers, and our society as a whole.

I look forward to working with the staff and volunteers of NASW Wisconsin to address these complex issues, and continue our work to improve the lives of those we serve.

BSW Student Representative

Lopez)

Karen Lopez

I was christened with the name Karen Itzbeidy Lopez, some may know me as Itzbeidy, Mami, as my daughters like to call me. I was born in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, my mother’s third child and only daughter. Like many families searching for a better life, my parents decided to migrate to the United States. I was only three years old when my parents and siblings embarked on a journey for a new beginning. We migrated and we were raised in the south side of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[LMS1]  If I remember I was told to work hard, my parents will say here in the U.S. people like us must work. So, I ran with that, I began to work at an early age. Work, work, work and work hard was my motto. I believed if I worked hard enough, I would obtain success and wealth. I never thought I needed education; it was not a core priority. I was made to believe that there was not a space in higher education for girls like me. But I went through high school because that was the thing to do. I did not Graduate with not many goals or plans on pursuing further education. My focus was just working, I soon found out I was pregnant. So many things changed, I began to think further out into the future. I was forced to reevaluate my life. I had worked for so many years but felt I had nothing to offer my daughter. During all this, I married an amazing man. It was through him I began my journey on becoming a U.S. permanent resident. I was able to enroll into college. I obtained an associate degree in Human Services at Milwaukee Area Technical College. I was the Vice President of the Student [LMS2] Deaf Culture Club [LMS3] (basic level) and volunteered at Bruce Guadalupe Community[LMS4]  School as a student assistant. I had an urge to continue, I was hungry for success. I had gone against all odds and needed more. I had pulled a chair to the table I thought I could not sit at. I enrolled and was accepted into Alverno College. I have grown to love Academia and have triumphed in my studies in Social Work and learning about great organizations such as NASW. I have been highly engaged in programs outside of classrooms, but also within my community. Currently, I am a part of many student organizations within my Social Work major and my Spanish double major such as Spanish Tutor, Positivity Committee member, the Alumnus Conference and Keynote speaker event (Host), Alverno College Association of Social Work (Coordinator) and currently part of the Recruitment, Outreach and Leadership Committee, where I was to conduct a professional presentation. I had the opportunity to present my research on Historical Trauma at the Wisconsin Women’s and Gender Studies Conference (2022) and 4W Summit in Madison, the National Youth Mentoring Research Symposium in Washington, DC, (2022) and the National Association of Social Work- Wisconsin Annual Conference in Wisconsin Dells (2021). [LMS5] Next semester I will begin my senior year at Alverno. I am excited to continue learning and growing as I prepare for graduation and starting my career as a future Social Worker. 

Position Statement

As a senior Social Work Major, it is extremely important to me to be part of my professional membership organization. NASW is our national social work professional membership organization and I want to be a part of it!  I have learned so much at Alverno College about the social work profession. Being a Student Board Member is such a great opportunity for my future.  Moreover, it is also a way for me to give back to my profession. As a young woman, mother, and Latina, I would like to voice my opinion and share my unique experiences. I believe others could learn from my experiences and I could help promote social justice. Becoming a student board member at NASW will allow me to grow and learn more at a macro level as a professional. With the experience that I have already obtained at Alverno College, I believe that I am ready to take a bigger responsibility as a future social worker. I am bilingual in Spanish and English with knowledge of American Sign Language.  I am highly organized, motivated, and a determined Latina. I promise to successfully complete any task given will benefit NASW.  I am not perfect, but I am “perfectly imperfect” and willing to give my best at any opportunity. Social Work is more than just a definition. Social Work is a lifestyle and a core belief. Social Work to me means being there for people, not only to help navigate life and giving out resources but giving people hope for a better life.  Social Work is giving other people hope, guidance, empowerment, and tools for a better life. I am excited to run as a Student Board Member for NASW. Thank you for considering me.  

Stadelman photoIMG_9159

Angela Athena Stadelman

Angela Athena Stadelman is the name my parents gave me, I am a young woman born and raised in Rockford Illinois. I am one of four, the three others all being boys so I have now concluded the dire need to have all girls when the time comes…. Just kidding. It’s a challenge putting almost twenty years of life into one brief paragraph but I’m surely up to it. Friends and family would likely describe me as a versatile person as I can adapt and make light of many different situations. Since I was a little girl I have grown up going to a Greek orthodox church, as my Mother is the firstborn generation in the United States resulting from my grandparent's descent here from Greece. Every year since I was ten I’ve been a part of the women's Philoptochos organization, helping create bake goods and bake sales through the church. Growing up I was a bold child sometimes for better, or for worse. I was a dancer for over ten years, I did competitions and recitals. It was a great way for me to exercise that trait. As time went on I found a passion for activism, I found myself wanting to advocate for others and speak up about important issues and bring them to light. Before this, I thought of myself as bold but I never really knew bold until I knew activism. To speak up for what is right regardless of what others say and have those deep and uncomfortable conversations many like to avoid and dismiss, now that takes courage. I am now the youngest member of the Rockford Women's league of voters, being only nineteen. Now, it may seem like I am flaunting my milestones, or trying to convince you that I am the perfect young lady but that could not be far from the truth. Mental health issues and self-esteem issues are things I am no stranger to. My whole life I felt as if I was the black sheep of my family, the only one in my family who did not get into an accelerated learning school throughout childhood, the little kid who was always getting into trouble and feeling out of place. The conferences my parents would always dread when I was a child. Everyone has their flaws and struggles and without those, I would not be the person I am today. 

Position Statement

When I was younger I had long, curly, black eyelashes. They were my best feature, everyone would complement them. In second grade I started subconsciously picking them out, I never knew why I did, I just knew I did it. My mother would yell at me, "stop picking them out". At the end of second grade, I had no eyelashes, I looked ill and I didn't know it at the time but I was, mentally. At the beginning of junior high, anxiety started taking effect on my body, I'd begin experiencing full-on panic attacks. My first one was on Mother’s Day in sixth grade when suddenly I couldn't feel my heartbeat. I've never experienced such a feeling, it happened randomly. I felt like I was jumping out of my skin while hyperventilating in the movie theater. I convinced myself I was having a heart attack or dying. My Mother noticed, I told her "I think I'm having a heart attack", she hugged me and told me to breathe. Eventually, I calmed down, and she goes "honey, I think you had a panic attack." I didn't understand since I never talked about how I felt mentally, nor did I think I needed to, I was only eleven. The idea that I had some type of imbalance in my brain causing me to feel this way was new to me. Over time, my mother and I would talk and she would reassure me, making me feel better as I was realizing I’ve suffered from anxiety. Since that attack, I avoided movie theaters for years. I couldn't go with friends or family. I hated trying to explain why, they never understood. "You're fine, get over it." I'd hear. Months later I'd have frequent physical anxiety. I was so afraid of having an attack again, I'd randomly feel dizzy, numb, nauseous, it sucked, and worst of all it's all in your head so you need to fix it, or prevent it yourself as you're struggling. Even breathing made me feel like I'd have an attack. Every day felt like a fight, a fight with myself every single day. By the end of eighth grade, my anxious thoughts took a new toll on me, and I began having intrusive thoughts constantly. I convinced myself I had depression. Beforehand it was my physical health that I would stress about, now I was worried about my mental health itself. In addition to anxiety, I convinced myself it was other things too. That summer I’d have multiple attacks, questioning myself mentally all the time. I'd depersonalize myself, feeling trapped in my thoughts, as every day felt like a long drag. I'd wake up thinking "how will I make myself miserable today." It had full control over me, and I let it. I found myself anticipating the end of each day to be able to sleep again. Suffering for months alone in my head, I worried if I told anyone, even my mom, she'd think I'm crazy. Eventually, I did. I broke out crying from all the stress I put on myself. She reassured me that I wasn't insane, that I was overthinking, and that we'd figure it out. I started seeing a therapist that I still see to this day. She helped enlighten me on what was going on in my head. It took a while, but I recovered. Some days are better than others but I'm doing well. In recovering and dealing with my day-to-day thoughts and feelings It was a liberating feeling to be understood and seen. Furthering my education in social work will allow me to use my experience to benefit others. I want to become a licensed social worker to learn and grow within this field and eventually become a therapist and help others the way mine has helped me. As well as advocate for others on other levels as well and make sure their voices are heard. Serving on the NASW-WI board of directors would best prepare me for the journey ahead and allow me to step into a greater version of myself and use the strong traits I hold within to the best of my ability. Struggling with mental health issues changed my life and helped me find my passion. I didn't think I could be helped. No matter where you are you can find healing, recovery, and the good even in doubt, I hope to help others do so as well and be a voice for them.

MSW Student Representative

Winifred Chastek

Winifred Chastek

My name is Winifred Chastek but I go by Winnie. My pronouns are she/her/hers and I am a first-year graduate student at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. I am currently enrolled in UW Milwaukee’s dual master’s program for social work and public health. I have a bachelor’s degree in social welfare from the University of Wisconsin Madison. Before returning to school, I worked as a Care Coordinator II at a local managed care organization for two years. This professional experience inspired me to go back to school because I wanted to address the unmet health needs of our community. I aspire to advocate and create policy changes that create a more equitable health system that is easy to navigate.

Position Statement

Public health and social work are highly intertwined. Both of their missions include promoting health and well-being through social justice. I believe that my education in both public health and social work provides me with a unique opportunity to bridge these two fields. If I am accepted to the NASW WI chapter board of directors, I can use my position to connect the social work field to the public health field. I believe that connecting these fields will help promote social justice and create the change we set out to accomplish.

Christina Thor-resize136x123

Christina Thor

Christina has a demonstrated history of robust civic engagement work, leading communications and development in the non-profit sector, and strategic community organizing in electoral and grassroots campaigns. Currently, she is the State Director for 9to5 Wisconsin (9to5.org), a social justice nonpartisan organization working to put working women issues on the public agenda to achieve economic justice and leading change through grassroots organizing work. Most recently with Christina's leadership at 9to5 Wisconsin, she lead the organizing to pass the paid parental leave ordinance for all Milwaukee City employees.

Grounded in her upbringing in systemic poverty and raised by war-refugee parents, she has a strong passion for identifying collaborative solutions to lift vulnerable, marginalized, and oppressed communities out of injustice. Ensuring equitable policies are crafted at the municipal, state, and federal levels, while providing education on racial and gender justice, is her personal mission. 

Christina has managed successful political campaigns to put people of color in elected seats and is the former campaign manager for two candidates running in the most diverse districts in St. Paul, Minnesota. Just earlier this year, Christina launched her business called Launch for Change, an affordable digital communications and website design agency that supports social change campaigns. She saw the urgent need for an affordable digital storytelling and compelling fundraising platform for grassroots, people-funded campaigns, which supports her vision for elevating activists, community leaders, and neighbors, to have a voice at the decision-making table to drive change for their affected communities. 

Christina sits on the Immigration Task Force for Esther, a social-justice organization based in the Fox Valley region of Wisconsin, working towards equitable immigration policies. She is a board member at the Hmong American Partnership of the Fox Valley (hapfv.org) and ColorBold Business Association (colorbold.org). Christina is currently pursuing her Master in Social Work degree at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay to further her understanding and healing work towards social policy. 

Position Statement

In today's chaotic and polarizing climate, we need leaders who are committed to putting communities first every single day, especially our most vulnerable communities. We need leaders to commit to making well-informed and sensible decisions, and willingness to collaborate on comprehensive and creative solutions, that will help better our communities, not hurt them/us. Throughout my leadership and journey as a person of color, I have demonstrated these values every day and lived them out as my life's work. These are the same values we ask for from our leaders today at all levels of our government and institutions, and I hope I can bring my passion and drive to elevating real issues to the surface as a board member at NASW WI. 

During my time at the Masters in Social Work program at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, I have had the opportunity to learn more about social work practice, practitioners, and its mission to serve and strengthen populations, promote justice, and enhancing dignity and worth of everyone, at all levels. As an organization that guides, leads, and enhances the growth and development of change makers in our state (and country), I hope to contribute to NASW WI in the capacity of a board member with my knowledge, lived experiences, and professional experiences. Understanding that our liberation is tied to one another, my hope is to continue to enhance our ecosystem by advocating for equitable social policies and contribute to building current and future change agents.

West Central, North Central, North East Representative

Smiar

Nick Smiar

Bio and Position Statement

My commitment is to the helping profession of social work, especially in regard to the empowerment of vulnerable and oppressed persons and communities. I have been a social worker for 54 years, a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers for 49 years, and a Certified Independent Social Worker (CISW) in Wisconsin for 25 years. My MSW (1973) and PhD (1986) in social work are from The Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago, in psychiatric social work and social welfare policy. I am Emeritus Professor of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where I taught for 22 years, principally in social welfare history, social welfare policy, and work with communities and organizations (macro practice). I am past Chairperson of the Marriage and Family Therapy, Professional Counseling, and Social Work Examining Board and its Social Worker Section. For the past 25 years I have presented continuing education workshops in Wisconsin and internationally, principally in ethics and boundaries. Currently, I serve as Chairperson of the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors and have served as past Vice Chairperson of its Human Services Committee. I do training and education of social workers and child care workers internationally, principally in Germany and South Africa. I currently serve on the NASW-WI Board of Directors and would like to continue in that role.

Southeast/Racine Kenosha Representative

Jeanne Wagner Small-resize148x137

Jeanne Wagner

Jeanne received her BSW from Morehead State University, Morehead, KY and her MSW from Jane Addams College of Social Work, Chicago, IL.  Jeanne is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Clinical Professor and Director of Social Work Field Education at UW-Milwaukee.  She has extensive clinical, management, administrative, and educational experience. She has worked in a variety of social service settings prior to her appointment with UWM in 2005, which include child welfare, adoption (domestic and international), mental health, intellectual disabilities, geriatrics, and private practice. She currently teaches courses in social work, develops and presents continuing education programs for social workers. She is a Trainer for the Training for Adoption Competency (TAC) curriculum through the Center for Adoption Support and Education (CASE) and UWM’s Co-Director for TAC. She has served in the role of Ombuds for UW-Milwaukee since 2007, Vice-President of the Wisconsin Council of Social Work Education since 2010, founder of the WI Field Education Consortium, and has 10 years of experience in Quality Assurance in Non-profits.  Jeanne has been a member of NASW throughout her career.  She has served on the NASW Legislative Advocacy Committee since 2017 and has presented at their annual conference on numerous occasions.  Jeanne has been a great advocate for NASW membership with her students and colleagues. She has been a long-term volunteer for special needs residentially housed adults and for at-risk seniors. She has received the following recent Acknowledgements and Awards: 

2021 Illinois Governor's Volunteer Service Award
2020 UW-Milwaukee HBSSW Outstanding Service Award
2015 UW-Milwaukee Certificate in Online and Blended Teaching
2014 UW-Milwaukee Student Success Award
2014 UW-Milwaukee  HBSSW School Service Award in Social Work
2012 UW-Milwaukee Student Accessibility Excellence Award
2008-2009 UW-Milwaukee Center Scholar

Position Statement

I have been extremely fortunate to work as a social worker, social work supervisor, non-profit administrator, and social work educator over my career. The NASW Code of Ethics has guided my practice since earning my BSW degree and NASW has continued to inspire my work and increase my competency. The high standards expected in social work practice are consistent with my personal and professional values and I contribute the success and growth of this profession directly to the leadership and guidance from NASW.  I have been especially impressed with the active involvement of the WI-NASW chapter and the excellence in leadership. After decades in the profession, I still feel as passionate about social justice and improving the human condition as I did when I landed my first social work job in a skilled care facility.  I would like to use my passion and leadership experience to continue the mission of NASW and support the social work community.

Cleopatra Echols

Cleopatra Echols, obtained a Graduate Degree from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is a lifelong resident of the City of Milwaukee. Cleopatra has held direct service, volunteer service as well as leadership roles in the field of social services (publicly and privately) during a 20 plus year career. A career which includes experience in child welfare, adult protections services, contract monitoring, disability services, corrections, AODA individual/group counseling as well as community organizing. Always working in effort to impact the stability, well- being, and growth of families.  Adopting a trauma informed, strengths-based approach when providing service. Cleopatra believes that positive growth and stability of a community starts with the growth and stability of each person in that community.

Position Statement

I am interested in serving on the NASW Board of Directors so that I can have an active role in the education of other Social Work professionals and support processes that enhance the Social Services field.

Thank you for your consideration. 

South Central, Southwest Representative

Puzzo

Debra Puzzo

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

It has been my honor and pleasure to serve as your board representative for this past term especially. I am excited to continue this venture with you and bring all we have learned over the past few years to NASW-WI's advocacy efforts.