As the 2012 ILCA Conference has come to a close, one of the things that was expressed time and time again was the gratitude towards our leadership for bringing the advocacy fo breastfeeding and especially the IBCLC profession into this exciting era of breastfeeding promotion. Cathy Carothers has served as our president during this time and, as she passes the gavel to Liz Brooks, we want to take a moment to express our thanks to Cathy for her term as President of ILCA.
We caught up with Cathy during the conference and here’s what she had to say about her service:
1. How did you first get involved with ILCA in a volunteer capacity? What jobs have you held before becoming president?
That’s an interesting story! My professional background is in the field of marketing/public relations, and I got excited about the lactation “profession” when a WIC nutritionist asked me to consider becoming a peer counselor when I was pregnant with my 5th child. I had loved breastfeeding and believed in it passionately, and once I became a peer counselor helping mothers and babies, I was convinced, in my naiveté, that I wanted to someday save the world for breastfeeding families. I set my sights on becoming an IBCLC and immediately joined ILCA back in the early 1990’s. But it wasn’t until someone on the ILCA Board asked me to consider running for a board position (the new position of Director of Marketing in 2003) that I realized I had gifts that could contribute to my professional association, as well. And what an incredible ride it has been! If only I had known how rewarding service to ILCA could be, I would have gotten involved much sooner!
2. What has been your most fulfilling accomplishment as president? Your most challenging?
Without question, my most fulfilling accomplishment as President of ILCA was watching ILCA’s most comprehensive and bold strategic plan ever unfold (Editor’s Note: Look for an upcoming blog post about this exciting plan!). But it wasn’t MY accomplishment at all…it was based on the constructive suggestions of over a thousand ILCA members and global stakeholders who took the time to tell us what matters most to them, and a group of smart, passionate board members who weren’t afraid to say YES to our most important calling: to promote the IBCLC credential. The challenges over the years have been so minimal they’re hardly worth mentioning…keeping monthly calls to an hour when everyone is so excited about the incredible momentum building, keeping time zones straight when working with an international board, and remembering to bring chocolate for meetings.
When I look into my ILCA crystal ball, I see an incredible vision of IBCLCs in every hospital and birthing facility, valued and respected for the expertise they provide. I see universities with quality lactation programs integrated into their curricula, and global policy makers relying on IBCLCs in international forums. I see IBCLCs who are connected and confident as skilled professionals, and mentoring the next generation of IBCLCs. I see an explosion of lactation research that not only forms our foundation of evidence-based practice, but is accessible and USED by all health professionals and policy makers. I see professional education available in languages that people speak and accessible to the far corners of the world. And I see that EVERY ILCA member is a part of that vision. Can I just say it? ILCA truly IS YOU!
Cathy, we thank you and appreciate the leadership you have provided!