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Keynote Speakers 2022

Opening Plenary

Please note the schedule reflects Central Time:

Thursday, October 27, 2022 at 7:00 pm (CT) (1.0 CE)

Mackenzi Huyser, PhD

Executive Director, Chicago Semester

“What Do You See”

How is it possible for social workers to imagine something new or different for our work when limited resources, staffing shortages and daily challenges dominate the images we see in our minds? This session will offer participants insights into the gifts of innovation and explore questions as to if these gifts could result in greater flourishing in our work with clients, organizations and communities. Together we’ll discuss the history of and approaches to successful innovation and consider if Christians in social work might be called to be leaders of innovation in their organizations. The session will offer experiential learning opportunities for participants to engage in practices which might allow for new avenues of innovation in our individual and shared work.

Learning Objectives- Upon completion of the session participants will:

  1. Become familiar with the history of innovation and approaches to successful innovation in social work and beyond.
  2. Recognize the need for social workers to engage in innovation in their work with clients, organizations and communities.
  3. Understand how Christians in social work, empowered through the gift of the Holy Spirit, might be called to lead innovative practices within their organizations and communities.
  4. Learn a set of spiritual practices which through daily repetition might open new avenues of innovation in our work.

Presenter Bio: Mackenzi Huyser, PhD, MSW serves as Executive Director of Chicago Semester, an experiential education program that works with college students as they pursue their vocational callings, emerge as professionals in their chosen fields of study while faithfully engaging God’s ongoing work within the city. She is deeply committed to exploring questions about how Christians are called to live and engage in urban places. Prior to her work at Chicago Semester she served as Dean for Faculty Development & Academic Programs and Professor of Social Work at Trinity Christian College. She is a graduate of Trinity Christian College (BA, Sociology), Grand Valley State University (Master of Social Work) and Andrews University (PhD, Curriculum & Instruction).


Alan Keith-Lucas Lecture:

Friday, October 28th, 2022at 11:30 am (CT)(1.0 CE)

Lawrence Ressler, PhD, MSW 

“I am Sorry I Have Made Them: The Call for Reconciliation Competency” 

The essence of the human story is framed early in scripture from the glory of creation in Genesis 1 to the despair of things gone bad in Genesis 6:7 when God declares regret for having made mankind. The despairing temptation to wipeout mankind was replaced by the goal of reconciliation beginning with the pivoting word ”however” and the person of Noah. The lecture explores how well Christians understand and are carrying out their responsibility as “ministers of reconciliation” and then, using Psalm 85:10 as a framework, the lecture will identify knowledge and skills Christian social workers need in order to bring truth, justice, forgiveness, and peace to the same broken world God decided was worth saving.

After completing this training, participants will be able to:

Objective 1: Articulate the theological basis for reconciliation;

Objective 2: Describe the basic causes of conflict;

Objective 3: Outline the skills needed for reconciliation using a Psalm 85:10 Truth, Mercy, Justice, Peace (TMJP) framework.

Presenter Bio: Dr. Lawrence Ressler has a BSW from Eastern Mennonite University, an MSW from Temple University, and a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University. In addition to serving in academic administration as dean, provost, and interim president, Dr. Ressler has taught social work at Malone University, Messiah University, Roberts Wesleyan College, the Carver School of Church Social Work at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Cairn University.

Banquet Speaker:

Saturday, October 29, 2022 at 7 pm (CT) (1.0 CE)

Jonathan Brooks –

M. Div., Lawndale Christian Community Church, Trinity Christian College/Chicago Semester, CCDA

Church Forsaken: Practicing Presence in Neglected Neighborhoods 

In Church Forsaken, Brooks challenges local churches to rediscover that loving our neighbors means loving our neighborhoods. Unpacking the themes of Jeremiah 29, he shows how Christians can be fully present in local communities, building homes and planting gardens for the common good. His holistic vision and practical work offer good news for forgotten people and places. And community stakeholders and civic leaders will rediscover that churches are viable partners in community transformation in ways that they may never have considered.

God has always been at work in neglected neighborhoods. Join “Pastah J” on this journey and discover new hope for your community

Presenter Bio:

Jonathan Brooks currently serves as Co-Pastor at Lawndale Christian Community Church. He was the former pastor of Canaan Community Church in Chicago for 15 years. He is also an adjunct Professor for Northern Seminary in their Christian Community Development Program and Trinity Christian College’s Chicago Semester program. He served as the Chicago City Director for Mission Year, a year- long service program that focuses on the intersections of Faith and justice. Jonathan has also been an educator in inner city Chicago for well over a decade and is a firm believer in investing in your local community. He has a deep desire to impress this virtue on all who will listen whether congregation, classroom or community.

Through various roles and partnerships,  Jonathan is engaged in social activism, church planting, youth development, holistic health options, college scholarships, music lessons and continual support to the incarcerated and their families living in North Lawndale, Greater Englewood and other Chicago communities.

Pastah J, as he is affectionately called, is a sought- after speaker, writer and artist.  Along with speaking, training and consulting he has written numerous blogs and contributed to various books. He is the author of the book “Church Forsaken: Practicing Presence in Neglected Neighborhoods” published by InterVarsity Press. During his tenure at Canaan the church released a gospel album titled “Recommend Jesus” to be used as an avenue to share faith as an integral component in community transformation. Lastly, Pastah J has also recorded four hip-hop albums with the group Out-World and a mixtape to accompany the book Church Forsaken.

Jonathan has a Bachelor of Architecture from Tuskegee University, Master of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University and Master of Divinity from Northern Seminary in Christian Community Development. He hopes to merge his academic knowledge, practical tools and ministry training in order to turn his convictions into tangible solutions which will help change neglected neighborhoods all over the city of Chicago for future generations.

Jonathan and his wife, Micheál have two children, Tayler and Jade, and currently reside in North Lawndale steps away from the church campus.

You can learn more at www.pastahj.com


Panel Presentation Information

NACSW has an exciting panel discussion planned for Saturday, October 29th from 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm CT (1.5 CE) “Multifaceted Approaches United in Christ” moderated by Jennifer Shepard Payne, PhD, LCSW, Research Faculty/Assistant Professor Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress, Kennedy Krieger Institute John Hopkins, Baltimore, MD;  featuring: Dara M. Basley, MA, LCSW, Manager of Health Equity, Access Community Health Network, Chicago, IL, Clark Beckley, MSW, LCSW, Founder & Therapist, Your Story Counseling, P.C., Lisle, IL; and Dr. Heather Evans, LCSW, Private Group Counseling practice in PA, Co-founder, Board Chair of Valley Against Sex Trafficking, PA and Global Director for Quest Trauma Healing Center.

In this interactive panel, trauma experts come together to discuss their experiences of working with individuals and communities suffering from trauma. They will explore universal themes regarding trauma informed therapy and trauma approaches in light of these tumultuous times. The intersection of trauma and faith will be explored, and trauma experts will answer audience questions, delving into a discussion of the future of trauma work.