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ILCA Seeks Bylaws Changes in 2014

liz_brooksBy ILCA President Liz Brooks, JD, IBCLC FILCA

During 1-15 June 2014, International Lactation Consultant Association®  (ILCA®) voting members will be asked to vote to change the organization’s bylaws.

The ILCA Board of Directors supports the proposed changes, and encourages members to vote YES on their on-line ballot (the link to which was sent to ILCA members, via email listserv).

Why do ILCA’s bylaws have to be changed?

ILCA’s bylaws were last amended in 2007.  They are an important part of ILCA’s structure and governance.  Along with the Vision, Mission, and Strategic Plan, they are the blueprint for defining the policy and strategic direction of our professional association.  The International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) faces new challenges in 2014 in the clinical, educational, professional development, advocacy and reimbursement arenas.  The professional association should adapt to meet evolving needs of its members.

Any change to the Bylaws requires a vote of the members.  The proposed revisions are explained step-by-step here, in ILCA Bylaws OUTLINED. Click here on the 2014 Bylaws Changes ACCEPTED to read a draft “clean” version of the bylaws with all changes incorporated. The major changes are outlined below.

What is an ILCA “representative board?”

The new bylaws create a board of directors that more fairly represents the interests of its diverse membership.  It allows ILCA to meet member needs around the world, without giving any one geographic region more decision-making weight.

ILCA is comprised of individual members: Each of us around the world joins as a single member; each of us enjoys the same benefits of ILCA membership.  ILCA also has an innovative affiliation model, whereby members who live in the regions where a Partner (Tier 1) Affiliate (Partner Affiliate) has been established are automatically given joint membership in both organizations. ILCA provides extra operations and services to the Partner Affiliates: Canadian Lactation Consultant Association (CLCA), Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ), and the United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA).

Each Partner Affiliate maintains autonomy to develop policy and advocacy within their region. Over the past 18 months, an extensive collaborative effort by ILCA, CLCA, LCANZ and USLCA reviewed the ILCA-Partner Affiliate relationship, to find the best way to meet member needs with better-defined operational and financial relationships between organizations.

The reconfigured ILCA Board assures one ILCA Board seat (with full director rights and responsibilities) is designated to be filled by each Partner Affiliate.  Also, one seat elected by all voting members (also with full rights and responsibilities) is to be held by a person from any country that is not a Partner Affiliate.  The rest of the ILCA Board seats are elected by all voting members and may come from any country.

To offer an example: A future ILCA Board would be comprised of 3 directors from the 3 Partner Affiliates, 1 director elected from a country with no Partner Affiliate, and 4 more directors elected at large, from any county, for a total of 8 directors.  The changes will actually occur as current ILCA Board members rotate off the Board, and openings arise.

How does changing voting power change ILCA?

Leadership positions on the ILCA Board and Committees require IBCLC certification, but ILCA membership has always been open to anyone who supports our primary activities of education, professional development and advocacy for the IBCLC.  But the demographics of ILCA membership, and the pathways of entry into our profession, show there are significant race-  income- and geographic-based barriers.  ILCA’s Strategic Plan seeks to increase diversity by creating meaningful, accessible entry into the profession, and our professional association.   We can be the “professional home” for those who support our work, and hope to join our IBCLC ranks.

Members with the power to vote have a vested interest in the future of the organization and should have the right to vote. Thus, the suggested bylaws provide voting rights to all dues-paying ILCA members.

Why change the directors’ term limits?

New voices, new leadership, and different experiences maintain the vitality of a professional association.  Under the revised bylaws, terms for Board members are clearly defined to end after two terms (whether originally attained by appointment or election).  This increases opportunities for members to move up through the organization into leadership; this provides for fresh perspectives in setting new policies and strategic goals.

I have a question, and a few comments!

Excellent!  Please use the comments section in this blog to tell us what you think, or to seek more information before you vote (if you are a current ILCA voting member).

Thank you for your membership, and for helping to build a better ILCA!

[Editor’s note: All comments on the ILCA blog are moderated, which means that they will appear once “approved” by the editor of Lactation Matters. All comments will be approved unless they violate community guidelines. The comments are moderated twice a day Monday – Friday and occasionally on the weekend when the interest in the topic warrants it. If you have questions about your comment, please contact Thank you!]

109 Responses to ILCA Seeks Bylaws Changes in 2014

  1. Sharon C. Watkins 2 June 2014 at 11:13 #

    I do agree with inclusiveness & encouragement to join ILCA membership. If one is not an IBCLC & doesn’t have the SCOPE of PRACTICE,etc. as an IBCLC, I can’t honestly support a NON-IBCLC a right to vote. Limitations of membership should apply, just as this organization has sliding scales to join, renew, etc for other countries.
    I am concerned of a potential to dilute our Profession to be recognized as a stand alone profession.
    Licensure should be a goal here in the USA. Representatives of each country will have unique issues to address.
    I also recognize the desire to increase membership & the financial strength to continue this organization’s goals.

  2. ECBrooks 2 June 2014 at 13:56 #

    Well, you have captured the hot-button issues in a nutshell, Sharon! Thank you for offering your feedback.

    The ILCA Board feels strongly that ILCA members, through their professional association, are the **best** advocates to uphold and promote the IBCLC as a stand-alone credential and profession!

    The ILCA mission (unchanged for years) is: “To advance the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) profession worldwide through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research.”

    ILCA must attract, keep and build membership in all countries, to advance this important mission. Membership dollars allow the association to thrive; a vibrant association has the dollars, leaders and drive to promote, protect and support the IBCLC credential.

    ILCA membership is a commitment to our association, and its mission. It is due-paying members with vested (or, voting) rights who are more likely to maintain membership.

    Obtaining IBCLC certification from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners is a multi-year process. ILCA wants to attract and keep those “in their pathways” to join ILCA, to use our education and professional resources, and to network with other members.

    Liz Brooks, JD, IBCLC FILCA
    ILCA President

  3. Randa Taher Abdulfattah 2 June 2014 at 14:32 #

    What are the most benefits for this changes for IBCLC in the world and specially in the gulf countries?

  4. ECBrooks 2 June 2014 at 20:09 #

    Great question, Randa! I think the short answer is: The ILCA representative board assures that there is a full, voting seat on the ILCA Board, that *must* be filled by someone coming from a non-Partner-Affiliate country (like the Gulf Countries, most of South America, and large-but-remote countries like Russia and China).

    ILCA wants to expand into places where we have few members. It is hard to become an IBCLC in some regions. Access to the classroom education and supervised clinical training required to sit the IBLCE exam is expensive, difficult (or impossible) to find, and rarely offered in the first language of those seeking IBCLC certification.

    We want to make ILCA membership economically feasible; we want education and professional development options to be in the predominant language of the region, and sensitive to cultural traditions and practices. ILCA membership should be equal and meaningful for every single person who joins, no matter where they live. These bylaws changes, by giving any dues-paying member voting rights in ILCA, are a tangible example of this important strategic goal.
    — Liz Brooks, JD, IBCLC, FILCA
    ILCA President (2012-14)

    • Tanya Phillips, IBCLC (15 years) 10 June 2014 at 21:43 #

      Rather than giving “equal voting rights” to CHANGE my profession to people who aren’t PART of my profession because they can’t afford to be part of it or that can’t understand the language of the exam or they can’t afford the education needed to become an IBCLC, why not make changes in THOSE areas to allow a broader group of persons the opportunity to certify. (ie: fund more scholarships, stop making it SO HARD to get qualified to sit for the exam in the first place, make memberships to ILCA more affordable for non-ibclcs with no voting rights). I can guarantee if you give ANY member the right to vote on what happens to IBCLCs, it’s NOT going to be all “pretty roses” ahead. There are PLENTY of people in other medical professions that can afford to join ILCA that MIGHT join ILCA if they knew they could vote on changes that affect an IBCLC’s job or practice. IF you MUST let everyone have “similar voting rights”, AT LEAST don’t allow non-IBCLCS to vote on matters that only affect IBCLCs. ILCA is an organization created for IBCLCS in the first place.

      • Alice Farrow 15 June 2014 at 11:06 #

        I am a non-IBCLC due to the changes that IBLCE brought about – I would have been eligible to sit the exam in 2011, but the new changes mean that I may never have the opportunity to complete the prerequisites – not because cannot afford the prerequisites or because I cannot understand the language of the exam. Quite simply, the prerequisites have continued to change since 2011, the changes are unannounced and easy to miss, the replies we get from IBLCE change from one year to next, IBLCE often doesn’t have answers to our questions…’s simply not working as a system (for non-HCPs outside the US) and the stress of trying to fulfill the prerequisites far outweighs the difficulties of studying the 14 health science courses and preparing for the actual exam.

        Paradoxically, I have put more effort in recent months into studying the world’s education systems, looking for ways for people outside of the US to access the exam (including myself) than I have dedicated to studying for the prerequisites (which I am doing, but not able to dedicate as much time to it as I should). Other (non-US) countries have education systems, there are affordable courses online, there are certainly ways to get around the system, but the burden of that is on the iindividual candidate who has no organisation behind us, no support from the profession, and no guidance from IBLCE.

        Therefore, I applaud ILCAs proposal to allow non-IBCLC ILCA members to vote, as the decisions that ILCA makes (and IBLCE) do have an effect on non-IBCLCs.

        Alice Farrow, Open University student, Rome

  5. Lisa Mandell, MBA, IBCLC 2 June 2014 at 21:07 #

    To add to Liz’s excellent responses to both questions, I think a benefit of offering voting rights to non-IBCLC members of ILCA is to encourage membership and advocacy for the IBCLC, especially in some countries where it can be very hard to become an IBCLC. I don’t know about the Gulf countries in particular, but I know in some countries the health professions won’t recognize anyone but a physician and no non-physicians can become IBCLCs. We would like ILCA to be a place where those interested in becoming IBCLC, and perhaps advocating for recognition in their country, can join and contribute meaningfully to those efforts.

  6. Dixie Whetsell, MS, IBCLC 2 June 2014 at 21:48 #

    I am wondering if the non-IBCLC representative/s could be filled by “lactation student/s” meaning folks who are working on meeting the requirements to become an IBCLC with the support of an IBCLC mentor or IBCLC instructor. To me this would ensure that they are focused on what is best for the IBCLC profession, and they will also be able to represent those who are struggling to enter the profession.

  7. Cathy Carothers 2 June 2014 at 23:27 #

    Bravo! I am thrilled to see this amazing and bold suggestion by ILCA to open the doors of voting rights to all members. As the chair of the design team preparing for the upcoming 2014 Lactation Summit, I have been learning much about some of the incredible inequities that exist within this profession. It is hard for many of us to fully appreciate just how difficult the pathways of entry are for many. In fact, for too many aspiring IBCLCs, those pathways are literally impossible to achieve. We are only just beginning to learn how deep the difficulties truly are in the realm of income, geographic location, race, availability of training and clinical opportunities, and many others.

    INCLUSION is pivotal to our ability to propel this profession into the growth needed to address the challenges of both this generation, and generations to come. What is “inclusion”? Simply put, it means “full acceptance.” Valuing each person and their experiences and perspectives. That means the voices of both IBCLCs and those who are not yet IBCLCs must be at the table so that meaningful change to address inequities can truly occur. ILCA’s role has long been not only to serve IBCLCs, but to engage and help others become part of this profession. If that is the case, then we must have a process that assures those voices are at the table.

    I’m excited about the upcoming Summit, the “first” conversation in the road to discovery of how we can better work together to address these barriers. However, the way we will ultimately institutionalize equity is to assure that all of the voices who are part of this organization are welcomed and valued.

  8. Dee Kassing 2 June 2014 at 23:35 #

    In the past, membership has been open to anyone who wanted to become an IBCLC, without regard for what, if any, progress the member was making toward that end. So, I don’t see how we can control our own organization if we give CLCs who pay ILCA dues the right to vote. I see this as opening the door to undermining our own position that IBCLCs should be recognized as *the* experts in lactation support. A CLC can say she plans to become an IBCLC, but maybe she does and maybe she doesn’t. How will we be able to control the direction our organization takes if those who have a now-competing certification are allowed to pay dues and vote?
    Dee Kassing, IBCLC, RLC for 20 years. I paid dues to ILCA before I sat the board exam, because I wanted access to materials (JHL and materials in the lending library in my local affiliate) to study with. But now there can be other reasons to join which can undermine our organization if anyone who pays dues, including non-IBCLCs, can vote. (And I haven’t yet gone to the link with the official wording–these comments are based on what information is in this email from ILCA.)

  9. ECBrooks 2 June 2014 at 23:52 #

    Hi Dixie! I like the way you want to assure that IBCLC-aspirants get excellent mentorship and instruction. ILCA membership offers many opportunities for IBCLC-aspirants to get ready for the certification exam (like subscription to the excellent Journal of Human Lactation, a world-class conference, on-line education available everyday, and affordable evidence-based ILCA resources like the new 3rd edition “The Clinical Guidelines for the Establishment of Exclusive Breastfeeding.”).

    Perhaps I misunderstand your comment, but I want to repeat something from my blog above: Anyone who holds a position in ILCA leadership must be an IBCLC. Directors, Committee Chairs, and Liaisons must have current IBCLC certification. The new “representative board” model that would be installed, should these bylaws pass, requires that every Board member be an IBCLC. We are using that phrase to describe a Board of Directors that fairly “represents” the geographic regions of ILCA membership. And, of course, the “business” of ILCA is to promote, protect and support the education and professional development of IBCLCs … so anyone in leadership has to uphold this mission!

    Currently, only a small portion of ILCA members are not IBCLC-certified; perhaps 10%. Again — since ILCA was created in 1985, it has always welcomed members who are not IBCLC. The 2014 bylaws change would give back to such members the rights they enjoyed from 1985 to 2007: To be able to vote.

    –Liz Brooks JD IBCLC FILCA
    ILCA President 2012-14

    • ECBrooks 3 June 2014 at 22:33 #

      Update 3 June 2014 with the confirmed data: ILCA’s current membership base is 86% IBCLC, and 14% non-IBCLC.

  10. Lisa Mandell, MBA, IBCLC 3 June 2014 at 00:48 #

    Dixie, I’m not sure what you are referring to as “non-IBCLC representatives.” There have always been non-IBCLC members of ILCA, who have joined ILCA out of their desire to support the lactation profession; many of them are students working to become IBCLC, but some are physicians or midwives or others who work with breastfeeding mothers and value the access to ILCA’s materials. We are just recommending giving them the opportunity to vote.
    Lisa Mandell, MBA, IBCLC
    ILCA Secretary (2011-2017)

  11. ECBrooks 3 June 2014 at 11:06 #

    Nice to hear from you Dee!

    ILCA’s mission is unambiguous. Members who belong to our professional association support ILCA, even if they are not IBCLC.

    I’d say that “control” of ILCA comes from:
    * the leadership structure (the volunteer Board, Liaisons and Committees, all of whom are required to be IBCLC),
    * who operate according to the bylaws,
    * who are committed to the ILCA mission, and
    * who are supported in their mission by thousands of ILCA members around the world.

    This is a cut-and-paste of Article 2.1 of the proposed 2014 bylaws, the Statement of Purpose of ILCA. It explains why we exist, and what we do. This section is virtually unchanged from the 2007 bylaws; two edits were made to strengthen ILCA’s role for IBCLC advocacy.

    1. Provide for education, communication, networking and mutual support within the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) community and other health workers concerned with breastfeeding and related issues;

    2. Advocate for the IBCLC;

    3. Uphold high standards of professional practice;

    4. Promote appropriate credentialing for the IBCLC;

    5. Foster awareness of breastfeeding, human milk feeding and skilled lactation care as important measures for health promotion and disease prevention;

    6. Heighten recognition of the consequences of artificial feeding of infants and children;

    7. Encourage research in all aspects of human lactation, the role of the IBCLC and the feeding of infants and young children;

    8. Support the world-wide implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent relevant WHA resolutions which are consistent with the goals and objectives of the Association;

    9. Advise relevant authorities on issues of concern to the IBCLC and;

    10. Collaborate with other organizations whose aims and objectives, in whole or in part, are similar to those of the Association.

    –Liz Brooks JD IBCLC FILCA
    ILCA President 2012-14

  12. Lisa Mandell, MBA, IBCLC 3 June 2014 at 22:59 #

    Another thought on the concern that other breastfeeding helpers might want to influence ILCA if they have the right to vote: First, great that they join! In the US, it is a large amount of money to join, so they are undoubtedly doing it for reasons other than somehow wresting “control” of the association away from IBCLCs (especially given, as has been explained, that all leadership positions still require IBCLC certification). And maybe by joining, they will be more encouraged than ever to become IBCLCs. What a wonderful outcome for ILCA, and for mothers and babies. Perhaps some won’t become IBCLCs, but by joining will learn more about what we do, what training we have, what issues we face . . . and how we can work together to help more mothers and babies. And, for me, this is the most important point. ILCA cannot achieve any lofty goals (such as improving breastfeeding rates, increasing government support for breastfeeding, etc.) on our own. We need to work together with the broader community of those involved in birth and breastfeeding. Giving some of that community a voice at our table is one step in that direction.

  13. Genevieve Becker 4 June 2014 at 12:07 #

    ILCA had a directly elected representative board some years ago. Personally I thought it was good way both as a Board Member at that time with “constituents” that I felt connected to and responsible for representing, and at other times when I felt my views had a channel on the Board. I was never clear why the previous directly elected representatives were abandoned from the Board. Is whatever ceased to function effectively back then now going to function effectively?
    Genevieve Becker, Ireland

  14. ECBrooks 5 June 2014 at 17:59 #

    Great to hear from you, Genevieve … one of ILCA’s early Board members!

    As a member of the earlier Board configuration, you are in a much better position to share why it was changed. It happened before I came onto the ILCA Board, as Secretary, in 2005.

    Building a strong matrix of organizations around the world, advocating for IBCLCs, who provide skilled lactation care to breastfeeding families, was the seed for the idea of ILCA’s Partner Affiliates, planted about 2005. It was a great idea with a not-so-great operational model: The organizations were all “silos” trying to operate independently of one another without sharing resources, expertise, wisdom and strategic planning.

    For the past past two years, the leadership of ILCA and the Partner Affiliates have engaged in a concerted, collaborative, consensus-driven, top-to-bottom joint effort to design an operational model that allows the Partner Affiliates to function independently … but to also have a direct stake in the governance of ILCA. Along the way, ILCA has assured that the interests of its many individual members, who are not in a Partner Affiliate region, were protected too.

    The first step is to pass new by-laws for ILCA, that will allow ILCA to deliver on its promise of providing seats to the representatives outside of, and inside of, Partner Affiliate countries. The new bylaws give ILCA the legal authority to negotiate and sign Affiliate Agreements providing for “other elements of shared services, cooperation and support.” The ILCA Board felt it important that the Partner Affiliates NOT be placed in the position of negotiating the important Affiliate Agreements UNLESS ILCA could be held accountable to deliver on its promises.

    The new governance model was collaboratively developed, from square one, by figuring out what goals we all share, and how we can best obtain them. That is why it promises to function effectively!

    • ECBrooks 5 June 2014 at 18:06 #

      Sorry — forgot my signature on the post above! I am Liz Brooks JD IBCLC FILCA. ILCA Secretary (2005-11) and ILCA President (2012-14).

  15. Renee Beebe 6 June 2014 at 00:26 #

    I agree with Dee Kassing’s comments above. Only IBCLC’s should vote. I became a member after I became a LLL leader. I wanted to read everything possible about lactation. and I’ve been an IBCLC since 1997. it was a long hard road. And it should be. Like anything valuable it’s worth working for. I do NOT want non IBCLC’s voting. I am already very concerned about the future of the IBCLC cert. By the way, I wonder why I didn’t get a ballot…

    • Dee Kassing 7 June 2014 at 21:11 #

      I have been searching through my emails very carefully, and I evidently did not get a ballot either, Renee Beebe. Perhaps ILCA needs to checks its system. How many people never got a ballot? If many members did not actually get a ballot, can this vote even be considered valid/binding?

  16. Lisa Mandell, MBA, IBCLC 6 June 2014 at 15:26 #

    Renee, thanks for your thoughts, and your continued membership! It’s great that you became a member as a La Leche League Leader, to learn more about lactation. I also started as a LLL Leader. When you became a member, you had the right to vote, even though you were not yet an IBCLC (only since 2007 have voting rights been limited to members who were IBCLC). I wonder if you would have been less excited to join an association if you had no voice in the association? Also, your experience reflects what we hope to achieve: bringing people into the association who are committed to supporting lactation, providing resources to help them become IBCLCs, and continuing to provide resources to support them as IBCLCs.

    The information on balloting was sent in an email, from ILCA, on June 1, with the subject “ILCA Ballot Director of Marketing and Bylaws.” If you didn’t receive that email, please contact ILCA at

    Keep the questions and comments coming! We value the opportunity to engage members in this decision.

    Lisa Mandell, MBA, IBCLC
    ILCA Secretary (2011-2017)

    • Jennifer Tow, IBCLC, RLC 8 June 2014 at 21:43 #

      I was an LLLL when I first joined ILCA as well. I did have the right to vote but should not have. OTOH, I didn’t join to vote–I joined for JHL and because I planned to become an IBCLC. Today, we have a very different composition of breastfeeding helpers clamoring for a voice they have not earned. LLLLs have never pretended to be clinicians and have never had an agenda in conflict with the IBCLC. Today, many of these other breastfeeding helpers are interested in dismantling the IBCLC, not attaining it. They need not have any voice within ILCA.

  17. Diane Michel 6 June 2014 at 18:19 #

    Ditto to what Dee said: “So, I don’t see how we can control our own organization if we give CLCs who pay ILCA dues the right to vote. I see this as opening the door to undermining our own position that IBCLCs should be recognized as *the* experts in lactation support. A CLC can say she plans to become an IBCLC, but maybe she does and maybe she doesn’t. How will we be able to control the direction our organization takes if those who have a now-competing certification are allowed to pay dues and vote?”

    Allowing non-IBCLCs to vote seems to potentially be at a cross purposes with Article 2.1 of the proposed 2014 bylaws:

    2. Advocate for the IBCLC;

    • Freda Rosenfeld 8 June 2014 at 06:52 #

      If we allow non IBCLC a right to vote it is the end of the profession! We have worked too hard to alow less qualified people the same benefits as us. this will be a slippery slope where any one can call themselves a Lactation consultant. if this goes thourgh I am resigning from ILCA!!!!! Freda Rosenfeld

  18. Melissa Cole, IBCLC 6 June 2014 at 22:12 #

    I believe that ILCA may want to have a non-IBCLC membership category (I can see students, other HCPs, etc showing interest) but such members should not have voting privileges. Upholding and advocating for the IBCLC profession is best done by IBCLCs.

  19. ECBrooks 6 June 2014 at 22:21 #

    Thank you for your candor, Diane. Members who are deeply committed to ILCA, and to the fine work of IBCLCs, are what make this association great.

    I’d like to suggest we look at this another way.

    If the ILCA Board directs the affairs of the organization (bylaw 5.1) ….

    And if ILCA is supposed to promote and protect the IBCLC profession and credential (bylaw 2.1) …

    Then what matters is not who votes.

    What matters is whom we elect.

    If you want “to control the direction our organization takes,” then be certain you elect Board members (all of whom must be IBCLC, bylaw 5.2) who are as passionate, engaged and proactive about the IBCLC profession and credential as are the current Boards of ILCA and its Partner Affiliates.

    And I can do you one better. Under bylaw 6.7, the ILCA President rotates off the Board to Chair the ILCA Nominations Committee for two years. That’s going to be my job from 2014-16. That Committee (comprised entirely of IBCLCs) reviews applications and recommends a slate of qualified candidates to run for the ILCA Board. The voting members elect the directors.

    If there are excellent IBCLCs out there whom you feel need to be on the ILCA Board, to promote and protect the IBCLC profession … then send me their names.

    Consider running yourself, when the call for candidates goes up in 2015. Convince Dee Kassing to run with you (as I have tried)! Look around you for excellent IBCLC colleagues in our field, who have demonstrated leadership skill, and tell them: Please step up, and run for a director’s spot. IBCLCs, and our professional organization, need you!

    Liz Brooks JD IBCLC FILCA
    ILCA President 2012-14; ILCA Nominations Committee Chair 2014-16

    • Erin 7 June 2014 at 16:42 #

      It does matter if they have a vote. If there is a proposal that benefits the IBCLC but in turn may not benefit say a CLC and the CLC has the ability to vote…it doesn’t matter who we elected. Voting should be by those who have put the time and money to fully educate themselves in order to take and pass the IBCLC exam. It is nice to offer memberships for others as it gives them the ability to grow and learn…but voting should be saved for those who have proven their ability to become an IBCLC. I wonder if other organizations allow voting from members who are not of the profession. Can I vote in the AMA while not a doctor? I doubt it.

  20. Rosalba D Gutierrez 6 June 2014 at 23:14 #

    The step to licensing our profession may be many years away. That is one of the reasons we need to protect our certification. To earn the IBCLC designation one needs to work hard at didactic requirements, have tons of clinical hours and prepare for a grueling exam! this can take years! This is what give us the right to be part of our professional organization. The right to vote. Let’s protect that right by making a requirement to be a fully certified IBCLC!
    Rosalba Gutierrez, MS, IBCLC, RLC

  21. Joyce Funston RN IBCLC 7 June 2014 at 00:22 #

    As a working IBCLC for a cumulative of greater than 17 years I have seen many changes in the profession and in our professional organization. I have always promoted ILCA membership, mainly I’ve been glad for the great ongoing continuing education opportunities. I feel allowing students a vastly discounted membership is a wonderful idea. But, opening up VOTING membership to a different group, one who considers themselves a completely separate stand-alone group – the CLC group – a is a horrible idea! You say the ILCA controlling board is required to be all IBCLC – well, how quickly could that change when the ever expanding CLC group are allowed to vote in policy change referendums? Since they are not limited in number by a time consuming strenuous pathway their numbers are swelling. They can afford ILCA membership, as they don’t spend as much for their training. They can afford membership also because they don’t have to pay for ongoing quality CEUs. And they afford memberships as they market themselves as appropriate for maternal consults — they afford membership as confused moms seek them out. ILCA has never done a good job at educating the public about what makes an IBCLC unique — my ILCA membership framed on my office wall should let a mom know she can count on my advise to be the good standard for professional lactation counciling. If the CNC has the same document displayed, plus voting rights in my professional organization, I fear for our IBCLC future. Student membership is one thing – voting CLCs in ILCA is quite another!

  22. Lisa Weinshenker, RN, IBCLC 7 June 2014 at 00:51 #

    Oh geez… that is all I have to say. Just another feather for the cap of the- La Leche league leader or the CLC or the MD who claims to know about lactation cause they breastfed 3 kids with no problems- who states that getting their IBCLC seems not worth it considering all of the chatter and not really seeing the reason for it. Their response, ‘its just letters’ is heard all too often in my ears. Ugh, this will just add to this misinformation, misguidance, and foggy mirror on the reason for one to become an IBCLC. Becoming and IBCLC is an advanced practice certification. That means, you have been watched, mentored and clinically assessed as you work and certified after many hours of reading, learning, and demonstrating your skills. That means you have been critiqued, guided, and educated at a certain standard. That means you are reaching and upholding a certain standard and continue to maintain this standard as you maintain your certification. As much as I love having input from all ‘walks of life’ I do value this credential and can only see allowing a non-IBCLC to vote as opening a trash can that stinks not a small can of worms. Protecting out profession and promoting our status and what IBCLC really stands for and all of the work done to get there is extremely important as we all move forward together in helping moms with the right knowledge and guidance and with great clarity not fogged up glasses.

    Lisa Weinshenker, RN, IBCLC

  23. Fay Bosman 7 June 2014 at 09:11 #

    I think the logical progression you describe, Liz, (“If the ILCA Board directs the affairs of the organization (bylaw 5.1) ….And if ILCA is supposed to promote and protect the IBCLC profession and credential (bylaw 2.1) …Then what matters is not who votes. What matters is whom we elect.”) has a flaw: those who vote determine who is elected! If non-IBCLCs can determine WHO is elected, of course they can influence the organization.

    Fay Bosman, IBCLC, RLC
    Vancouver, WA

  24. Michelle IBCLC 7 June 2014 at 10:10 #

    What also challenges us is when people who are IBCLCs work with, sometimes even developing programs and certificates that suggest that they result in the same scope of practice as the IBCLC. Those people themselves who create such programs may be IBCLCs however their loyalty is certainly not to the advancement of the IBCLC profession. Of course all advocates should be members yet why would an organization seeking to advance and promote the credential of the IBCLC for example permit potential holders of alternate certificates to ‘vote’ in a professional association for which they declare this alternate credential the equivilent?

    • Beth mcmillan 9 June 2014 at 03:47 #

      This is one of my biggest concerns. Thank you for pointing it out. I hesitated to say it previously but this is a big problem…..only IBCLCS can be elected but not all IBCLCs seem to care about protecting the credential equally.

  25. Pamela MazzellaDiBosco 7 June 2014 at 11:21 #

    Either IBCLC is a profession or it is not. And either ILCA is the organization that supports that profession or it is not. I have not been a member in many years and I won’t be a member because the organization is not specifically geared towards promoting my profession. It is an organization that supports those who support breastfeeding in general and provides a publication of lactation research. Which is nice, but I can support a lot of organizations that support breastfeeding and I can read research elsewhere. If ILCA is going to be just another breastfeeding organization with a lactation research publication, than maybe IBCLCs should consider starting another organization that is specific to supporting IBCLC and ONLY IBCLCs. I would love to be a member of ABM, I am not a doctor. All professional organizations require that you be that profession to be a member. This tells me that ILCA is ‘not’ an organization for the IBCLC profession.

  26. Rebeca Four 7 June 2014 at 11:27 #

    I can think, at this time, of no other healthcare related professional organization that allows or would allow members on its board or membership to any individual that is not designated by the representative certification/registration. And I respectfully disagree that who votes does not matter, of course it matters!!! Enough voters in disagreement or agreement are what make the difference!

  27. Jolie 7 June 2014 at 12:13 #

    Other professional organizations such as the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and the American Nurses Association offer varying levels of membership. Students can purchase discounted memberships that allow them access to newsletters, journals, and other publications, as well as other benefits of membership such as access to online forums and job banks. Voting rights are limited to full members. I personally think this makes a lot of sense. I think Melissa Cole said it well: “Upholding and advocating for the IBCLC profession is best done by IBCLCs.”

    My question would be why would anyone who is not an IBCLC, and has no plans of becoming an IBCLC, want a stake in an organization that exists to protect and promote the profession?

  28. lactationmatters 7 June 2014 at 17:26 #

    You are more than welcome to send me a message with your revised comment, which I would be happy to post. You can reach me (Jeanette, the editor of Lactation Matters) at I’m approving all of your existing comments right now. Just let me know which ones you’d like me to delete and send me your new version.

    • Yvonne Maalouf IBCLC, RLC 10 June 2014 at 14:00 #

      I wanted to voice my unhappiness over the proposed changes to the bylaws. As others have stated more eloquently than I, there are a variety of reasons why this is a bad move for the profession. This seems to be another case of short term gain with long term pain. However, I specifically want to draw your attention to what I believe may make the results skewed. In an email sent to ilca members a few days ago you specifically state:
      “The ILCA Board of Directors supports the proposed bylaw changes, and encourages members to vote YES on their online ballot (the link to which was sent to ILCA members, via email listserv).”
      How does this encourage true choice? When you state that the membership should vote one way over another, the results should be viewed skeptically.
      I have placed my NO vote already and my sincere hope is that this proposed change will NOT occur.

    • Laurie 17 June 2014 at 11:18 #

      Excellent discussion. Why delete any of the posts?

      • lactationmatters 17 June 2014 at 13:21 #

        A small number of commenters (two) messaged Lactation Matters privately to request that their posts be deleted. We respected their requests and removed their posts.

  29. ECBrooks 7 June 2014 at 17:57 #

    Wow! I am thrilled to see ILCA members so passionate about their governance! This conversation means we all care one heckuva lot about ILCA and its future! Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts.

    I am struck that the commentary, to date, with the exception of two of the posts, comes from those of us in the United States.

    ILCA is an international member organization. These changes are to the ILCA bylaws, only.

    USLCA, CLCA, LCANZ — and all the provincial, state and regional organizations aligned in purpose with us — continue to operate under the bylaws they have, including whatever voting limitations are set in their governance.

    Liz Brooks JD IBCLC FILCA
    ILCA President 2012-14

  30. Karyn-grace Jacoba 7 June 2014 at 19:25 #

    Very interesting and insightful comments here… not sure I have much to add, but here goes:

    I agree that ILCA needs a stronger membership base in order to be financially stronger, in order to engage in more advocacy for the IBCLC profession, and in order provide resources and services that its members require. However. I do NOT agree that an increased number of members should be sought *outside* of the IBCLC-designated circle. There are now over 26,000 IBCLC’s world wide, but only about 6000 of those are members of ILCA. That leaves about 20K individuals who have the potential to become members, which is a tremendous amount of people.

    That is not to say that non-IBCLC’s should not be members in ILCA and that ILCA should not seek those kind of members, but that the bulk of resources and effort should be focused on those who *are* IBCLC’s.

    ILCA should consider three membership tiers:
    1. Full membership, voting privilege, for IBCLC’s
    2. Partial membership, non-voting, for IBCLC *Candidates* (those actively working on a Pathway)
    3. Student & Observatory membership, non-voting and significantly discounted, for all other parties.

    ILCA can set the prices and privileges that each tier offers.

    If for some reason the new by-laws are approved and voting privileges are offered to non-IBCLC’s, I think at the very least all Board-level AND Committee-level positions must be held by IBCLC’s. Non-IBCLC should never be given an opportunity to provide input into the vision, mission, direction and resources of an organization geared to meet the needs of IBCLC’s.

    • Erin 7 June 2014 at 21:54 #

      I have to say that I think your 3 levels of membership are wonderful.

      I don’t think a “significant discount” should be offered to non-IBCLCs who are not students. I think a reasonable discount.

      For example….
      1. As you wrote it and really as it is now as a membership for IBCLCs. $228
      2. Student membership…somebody who is working on their IBCLC. This is where the discount should be significant to encourage them to join and like other organizations they should be limited to the number of times they can renew at this level. I want to say my NP organization allows me 2-3 years to remain a “student”. Pretty much how it exists now. Non-voting. $99
      3. Non-IBCLC individuals at a partial discount…this would be ideal for CNMs, MDs, NPs, and others interested. Maybe no print journal for them as well? Non-voting $175
      4. Retired (since that exists now and I think that is great) $99

      I just don’t see why we are catering to non-IBCLCs when this organization is FOR IBCLCs. Sure…welcome others but doesn’t mean we welcome them and give up our seats either. ILCA should be focused on the IBCLC and for that reason…voting by IBCLC only. Heck…I’m okay with retired IBCLCs voting. I’m not okay with my friend who is taking her “lactation boards” to be a “lactation consultant” voting…she took a class and no she isn’t going to be an IBCLC but she believes she’s a lactation consultant!

      Hey…let the nurse aid in and call her a nurse because it makes her feel good and while at it we should let her decide the future of nurses. Do you think the nurses are going to go for that? Oh heck no and that’s why nursing groups would NEVER even propose it.

      ILCA is for IBCLC and we need to protect ILCA.

      I assure you….I won’t be renewing if the lovely lady who look a 45 hour class and nothing more is equal to my IBCLC in ILCA’s eyes. Giving her voting rights…it ILCA telling me we are equal.

      I’m already considering not renewing my IBCLC and just calling myself a Lactation Specialist…who will care? My patients should care but sadly they generally don’t know any better because IBCLCs are being stepped on and nobody is fighting for us.

  31. Dee Kassing 7 June 2014 at 21:27 #

    I posted this as a response to Renee Beebe’s post, but it seems like it might not be seen there by many people, so I am also posting it here.

    I have been searching through my emails very carefully, and I evidently did not get a ballot either, Renee Beebe. Perhaps ILCA needs to checks its system. How many people never got a ballot? If many members did not actually get a ballot, can this vote even be considered valid/binding?

    • StorkStories 9 June 2014 at 19:18 #

      I did not get a ballot Dee and just sent an email to the email address suggested by Lisa

    • Stacey Novak 10 June 2014 at 15:42 #

      No ballot here either

      • lactationmatters 10 June 2014 at 21:44 #

        Stacey: One of the goals of our outreach efforts is to make sure everyone receives a ballot. If you have not received yours, please check your “promotions” tab (if you use Gmail) or email us at

  32. Lourdes Santaballa, IBCLC, RLC 8 June 2014 at 07:10 #

    I cannot support the extension of voting privileges members who are not IBCLCs. We are already seeing CLCs, CLEs, and doulas charging for lactation services as if they were IBCLCs and claiming to be as qualified. Extending the voting privileges gives them equal voice in an organization that is supposed to advocate for us, not sell us out. I live in a country where the IBCLC is undervalued, but it is because the CLE is s heavily marketed. We cannot lose our North. If we want aspiring IBCLCs in specific countries to have voice, we can have comments for specific actions but not voting privileges.

  33. Rosalie Sarasua, IBCLC 8 June 2014 at 10:35 #

    Our professional organization in Quebec Canada (AQC) also has three levels of membership and ONLY IBCLCs have the right to vote. I would hope that ILCA would also keep it this way and the Canadian Lactation Association (CLCA) also encourages their members to vote NO on this.

  34. lactationmatters 8 June 2014 at 11:17 #

    [Editor’s note: 3 comments have been removed at the request of the author of the comments. If you have any questions about comments on the ILCA blog, please contact Thank you!]

  35. Jennifer Tow, IBCLC, RLC 8 June 2014 at 19:51 #

    That ILCA would be so short-sighted as to seek to shore up its membership or appear to be more diverse by offering voting rights to non-IBCLCs in an effort to recruit them into its ranks may be no surprise, but it is deflating nonetheless. When the organization charged with protecting your profession is doing as much, if not more to undermine it than anyone else, something is very, very wrong. I see very few professions so actively act against their own best interests as I do this one. We attempt to placate and appease first and foremost, pushing the substantive work of reinforcing our foundation always into the background.

    While most of us would agree that the IBLCE has much work to do in addressing issues of education, access pathways and recertification methods and requirements, ILCA’s role should be ensuring that the profession itself is thriving. To that end, certainly advocating to the IBLCE on the aforementioned issues and advocating for breastfeeding globally in various educational, social and political realms are essential tasks. In fact, this is a true advantage of our profession: that we have the mandate to advocate for something we collaboratively believe so deeply in and thus are globally unified by. Our passion for breastfeeding drives our individual professional practices, our community work and our research projects, as it should.

    It should not, however allow ILCA to behave like a breastfeeding education and advocacy association. ILCA’s obligation is to protect and promote the IBCLC profession as a means of meeting the personal goals and professional vision that drove us to certify in the first place. To take any action that contradicts that obligation is unacceptable and is the reason that I personally no longer scrape together the money for membership. I approached ILCA almost 20 years ago, questioning the organization’s poor marketing strategies, lack of will in supporting the credential and lack of responsiveness to IBCLCs in private practice. The response was underwhelming to say the least. Nothing has improved in all of these years and while ILCA and the IBLCE have floundered in their mandates, others recognizing money-making opportunities have taken advantage of the situation. Poor foresight has left us with an unprotected title that has been intentionally co-opted by these opportunists and with a credential that the community does not understand.

    We have non-IBCLCs with the arrogance to believe they can define our profession in ways that demean and devalue it, yet ILCA wants to give those very same people voting rights! This should simply be a bad dream, yet here we are: the ultimate in selling out your own profession. These other organizations that offer all manner of courses in breastfeeding are attempting to reframe the breastfeeding profession in way that serves them, but does not serve breastfeeding families and does not serve the IBCLC. They do this by appealing to concepts of fairness and access, knowing these will tug at our collective heart-strings. Yet, they are a straw man argument, appealing to emotions, but deceptive at their core.

    A course is a course; it is not a certification. Clinical competency must define this profession and advocating for such must be ILCA’s mandate. When someone can fast-track themselves in a weekend, a week or even a few months into falsely representing not only their skill set but the skill set of the IBCLC, everyone has a problem. Everyone, that is, except the organizations cashing in on the desire so many legitimately have to help women breastfeed. Yet, consider that anyone who truly wishes to provide excellent care would never be willing to do so based upon having taken a course, rather than having acquired a clinical credential. These are not people we want with voting powers within ILCA. Nowhere else in healthcare can a person take a course and claim to be a clinician, yet rather than roundly oppose this flagrant disregard for human health, ILCA seeks to invite the very people behind this agenda into our ranks? Seeks to encourage them to vote? And does so on the false premise of nurturing and broadening access to the profession?

    ILCA should be interested in elevating rather than degrading the IBCLC. We cannot possibly hope to encourage anyone to become an IBCLC by allowing the profession to be diluted and devalued, as is being actively and intentionally done throughout social media. On the contrary, we must not only promote its legitimate value, but seek to add value through supporting innovation in education and access pathways. Ensuring that the IBCLC is a stand-alone profession, dependent upon no other must be a parallel mandate. That it takes time, money and commitment to provide health care services is not the problem. That is simply reality and to imply that anything less can be equivalent is, to be blunt laughable. I wonder how the very same people arguing for such a low bar would like to be cared for in an emergent medical situation by someone who has taken a few months of coursework. Or how they would like to be attended in labor by their childbirth educator or doula. Yes, there is a place, an important place for childbirth educators and doulas, but they do not make the mistake or pretending to be midwives. There is, on the other hand, no place in clinical practice for anyone who has simply taken a course, no matter how they’d like to spin it.

    It may be far easer to inflate ILCA’s membership through inclusion at the voting level of those who have no right to a voting voice, and indeed who would tear down our profession, but as ILCA has proven time and again, inadequate vision is not the stuff of success. ILCA needs to accept that there is good reason IBLCLs are not members and do the work it takes to make membership worthwhile, not grasp at straws by including those who have no place among our voting ranks.

  36. kgibclc 8 June 2014 at 20:08 #

    Attention Liz Brooks, Lisa Mandell, and any other ILCA Board Member who is monitoring this blog: Please read this post and respond. ***VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION BELOW***

    First, let me start by stating that I take full ownership of my own blonde-moments. Second, let me confirm that I am 100% confident that no malicious intent was meant by ILCA, its Board, or any other party. Third, let me put forward that if this happened to me, I’m SURE it also happened to others.

    Before I tell you my story, I have to say that I’m not fond of sending out a dual-purpose ballot of this nature at all. And, I have to say that sending out a ballot on such an important topic BEFORE discussion occurs among the members is poor practice, IMHO. If the ballot just contained a question about the Director of Marketing, that’s fine, people can read the profile first and then cast their vote. But, because the ballot contained a question about adopting a new bylaw that changes the structure and intent of the organization… that is serious, and warranted much discussion by the membership FIRST, before a ballot went out.

    So then: It seems I have solved the mystery of the missing ballot email! Here is the crux: I DID get the email; I voted immediately; then I deleted the email, thinking I was done with it.

    I saw the email one morning upon waking, noticing in the subject line ‘ILCA Ballot Director of Marketing and Bylaws’. Knowing that it helps when the membership votes right away, I thought I’d get it out of the way and immediately clicked the link that was contained under the heading “Selection of an ILCA Director of Marketing”. I read that paragraph about the Lisa Akers, was happy enough with her selection, and immediately clicked the link to the survey and voted. And here is where it gets muddy:

    You see… *I didn’t read the rest of the email*. I’m sorry, but I didn’t. THE LINK TO THE VOTING PAGE WAS CONTAINED UNDER THE PREVIOUS PARAGRAPH, about the Director of Marketing. So… thinking I was being Miss-Very-Helpful-Smarty-Pants, I immediately clicked the link and voted, ***thinking that I was only voting FOR Ms. Akers to be the new Director of Marketing and thinking that I was voting for the Bylaws to be changed to reflect her as part of the Board.***

    That is all.

    Because I didn’t read the whole email. I figured I’d dealt with the important part by clicking the link in the first paragraph and voting right away. I DIDN’T THINK I NEEDED TO BOTHER WITH THE REST.

    It was not until seeing all the discussion about the proposed Bylaws that I even realized that there was something amiss. It was not until I read through all that discussion on various Facebook groups and then here on this blog, that I realized that I had voted for something I had not even thought about, not even considered, not actually wanted to vote for. It was not until I went searching for the email in my deleted folder that I found it, read the WHOLE thing, saw where the link to the ballot was contained, and realized my mistake.

    I can certainly be accused of not paying attention. I apologize for that. And, as I said, I do not in any way believe that ILCA intended to mislead. But! The way the information was presented, *was* misleading and I fear that other positive votes may occur by accident. I have now voted 3 times, from 3 different computers. The first time I did not realize what I was voting for regarding the Bylaws. The second was a test to ensure that what I was saying in this blog post was accurate. The third contains my real votes, which are Yes to Lisa Akers and No to the proposed Bylaws. So… I’ve actually skewed the results, unintentionally, but skewed nonetheless.

    I don’t mean to be a bad apple and to stir the pot here, I really don’t. But, I think the Bylaw votes on the current survey need to be disregarded and brought forward again. In a separate ballot, with JUST that question. Votes for or against Lisa Akers can stand. That is my opinion.

    • Freda Rosenfeld 9 June 2014 at 08:06 #

      So to be fair re send these part of the ballot, with just this vote and be sure the subjet box defines what the email is about

    • tinydancer2258 16 June 2014 at 00:10 #

      KG I did the same thing. I was a “get it done and off my desk and didn’t I do a great job” Only I too did not realize I voted for the non IBCLCs to be able to vote on ILCA related matters. Also not saying it was intentionally misleading but I was misled. I am constantly distracted by too much to do and not enough time. I tried to vote again from my same computer, thought it might change my vote but no. Interesting that you voted 3 times. I wonder how that will be handled…
      Mary Lou Moramarco IBCLC

    • tinydancer2258 16 June 2014 at 00:30 #

      I commented already but had trouble finding my wordpress password and don’t know if it worked. So I wanted to reiterate that I did the same thing KG. I tried to vote and get it done so I wouldn’t lose it in the e-mail pile. I didn’t realize I voted to allow non IBCLC voters until much later when the whole FB discussion ensued. I am concerned as this may have been the same response for many of the IBCLCs who received the ballot voted and then haven’t tuned in to FB or LM or any of the places that this is being discussed. With all of the comments on this blog I would be surprised if this passes. If it does then I would say it is because the two of us weren’t the only ones in this boat.

      Secondly I love your idea of tiered membership. I would vote yes for that.

      Mary Lou Moramarco, IBCLC

  37. Diane Michel 8 June 2014 at 20:22 #

    Just looking back on an earlier comment about how perhaps if non IBCLCs join ILCA they might be encouraged to become IBCLCs. I think there is a very real chance of just the opposite: by influencing the organization designed to advocate for the IBCLC profession there will be no need to become an IBCLC. If the goal is to work together to truly help mothers and babies it would seem more appropriate to me to have ILCA (with voting member IBCLCs) strongly advocate for the IBCLC credential and work with other organizations for expanded opportunties so that everyone has a place to help mothers and babies — within their own scope.

  38. April Rosenblum 8 June 2014 at 21:50 #

    I strongly disagree with opening votes to non-IBCLCs.

    By all means let us work to clear the very real barriers to new people becoming IBCLCs – but making non-IBCLCs equal in recognition, without requiring equality of training, actually DISEMPOWERS those people by making them less likely to become IBCLCs (why jump through the hoops and struggle to get childcare, go back to school, etc etc if you can take a one-week course and be seen as equal and get insurance reimbursement?) . This is totally backwards.

    We need to make it possible for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and races to achieve IBCLC status without breaking the bank. We also need to keep IBCLC the unquestionable standard, which is what motivates people to strive toward it. Both of these together is what will serve the world’s breastfeeding parents best by giving them the highest quality care.


  39. Annie Frisbie 8 June 2014 at 22:36 #

    I voted NO because I don’t understand the point of a professional organization that doesn’t have some standard for entry. I am also a member of another professional org (Writers Guild of America) and you have to meet certain professional markers in order to be eligible for membership. You can’t just say, “I would really love to be a screenwriter” then pay dues and become a member. Lowering the bar to entry dilutes the power of the whole organization.

    To continue with the analogy–the WGA holds power as a collective bargaining entity. The studios and production companies accept the terms issued to them by the WGA because they believe that membership in the WGA means something. The membership confers status on its members because it is exclusionary in nature–and therefore the organization then has power to negotiate wages and pension & health benefits.

    We have people that we want and need to negotiate with–the insurance companies in the US come to mind–and we can only do so if we have a professional organization with the power to make demands. The organization only has power if the membership has value. What is value of opening membership to non-IBCLCs and diluting our power?

  40. Joyce Funston RN IBCLC 8 June 2014 at 22:47 #

    Since so many people were confused about the voting for this bylaw change …. Misunderstood the email… Is there any way the vote can be resent alone without other issues in the same mailing?

  41. Maya Bolman 9 June 2014 at 00:31 #

    I read all the comments and responses. I think that it is an important issue and I love that we have such a passionate discussion about the future of our profession. I live and practice as IBCLC in the USA. I just returned from my European trip. I met with many breastfeeding supporters and IBCLCs in Russia, Italy and Lithuania. I can tell you that it is a “different world” for IBCLCs over there. I was invited to present at the First Breastfeeding Conference for Medical Professionals in Russia.
    I think that many physicians were interested to hear about IBCLC profession (for the first time!!). I received many comments how impressed they were by the knowledge and expertise that IBCLC should have. My goal was to present us as professionals who guided by professional and ethical standards. And yes everyone agreed that it is a gold standard.
    There are 10 IBCLCs in Russia now. There are over 2 millions births per year and over 146 mln people living in Russia. Natural Feeding Consultants Association of Russia is a professional organization with over 300 members and it is growing. Many of them want to become IBCLC.

    There were many concerns voiced about IBCLC profession in Russia: not being recognized as profession, difficulty to obtain education and not being able to take IBCLC exam in native language. The cost of the exam for many equals to amount of a month salary (nurse). I heard similar concerns from consultants in Italy and Lithuania as well.
    There are so many wonderful and knowledgeable breastfeeding consultants who want to become IBCLC but for many of them it is nearly impossible. Many of them would like to join ILCA as well. Sadly many comments I heard were that our organization is mostly for people who live in USA.

    We have a word “International” in our professional name. We need to think outside our “bubble”. We need to find the way to address many issues with our profession not only here but globally.
    Thank you.

    Maya Bolman, IBCLC
    ILCA Chair Multicultural Committee

    • Jennifer Tow, IBCLC, RLC 9 June 2014 at 11:43 #

      Having lived in Europe, I think I have a better sense of challenges the IBCLC faces outside of the States than many other American IBCLCs. Access to the profession is very important to me, especially access globally and among underserved populations. However, diluting ILCA’s voting membership with non-IBCLCs will never improve such access, nor will it elevate the IBCLC to a status that makes it a sought-after credential. Membership among ILCA is not in question; voting rights are. For those abroad who are not aware of this, what we are now contending with in the States is an aggressive attempt by other organizations to compete with the IBCLC, claiming to be “just as good or better”, based upon various courses that they offer, none of which require clinical hours. These are vastly inferior by any measure, yet they have money and numbers as their advantage. There are now more of these other graduates in the States than there are IBCLCs. The IBCLC profession is being placed in serious jeopardy by these organizations and we believe it is ILCA’s responsibility to act to protect, not sell out the IBCLC. The opportunity for the IBCLC profession globally depends upon ILCA taking evolutionary action rather than involutionary action. As I see it, this is no different from when breastfeeding advocates signed on to become mouthpieces for the artificial infant milk industry, buying into their carefully orchestrated “breast is best” campaign. Now, we are about to sign up for the false promise of equity through destruction of our own credential. I think those of us most committed to the international aspect of this profession are the most opposed to this effort, because we know this nightmare will soon become everyone’s unless ILCA and the IBLCE take appropriate action.

      [editor’s note: this comment was slightly revised for accuracy at the request of the author.]

  42. Melissa Morgan, IBCLC, RLC 9 June 2014 at 00:48 #

    I would like to add my voice to the chorus of those who oppose anyone other than IBCLCs to have voting rights in our professional organization. We have a long way to go to solidify our position in the healthcare industry and to provide appropriate access to pathways toward certification; ONLY IBCLCs should have a say in the direction and governance of our profession.

  43. ibclcinca 9 June 2014 at 01:13 #

    I am an IBCLC and a voting member of ILCA. I have paid my registration to attend the conference in Phoenix and am very much looking forward to that opportunity.
    Like many of my colleagues here, I strongly disagree with opening voting rights to non-IBCLC members of ILCA. This conversation in and of itself should provide enough evidence that IBCLCs are feeling short-changed by this short-sighted proposal. The potential for corruption is enormous if non-IBCLCs gain voting rights in our own professional association. For a group of individuals who are finely tuned to notice any slight hint of deception by the infant formula industry, it strikes me that many in our field are being extremely naive about the intentions of certain non-IBCLCs. Their actions speak loudly, and their website and written materials speak even louder. The watering-down of the IBCLC credential is a tremendous threat to all IBCLCs. We have come to a point where our credential needs strengthening, not widespread confusion at its very necessity. Our fractured American healthcare system in particular is extremely confused as to the usefulness of an IBCLC, and many healthcare entities are following a dangerous trend to hire only IBCLCs who also hold another credential. This imperils many highly-experienced and capable non-RN IBCLCs. Opening voting rights to non-IBCLCs will represent a large crack in the reputation of our professional organization.

    It is my hope that the very fact that there are so many passionate comments here will result in an immediate cancellation of the vote by the Board.

  44. Sarah Lin 9 June 2014 at 11:15 #

    I was one of many it seems who never received a ballot to vote. I did email to ask for one and got a quick reply and was told that “The ballot email was sent to IBCLC members. I checked your member record in our database and it looks like your IBCLC status hadn’t been verified in our database so that is why you did not receive the email that went out.” I have been a paid member since the beginning of this year, so I did not just join and have my membership overlooked. This is a very serious matter. How many other IBCLC’s have not had their status verified and how many got ballots who may not be IBCLCs? I am very frustrated that *my* professional organization is not even verifying member status of their members.

  45. lactationmatters 9 June 2014 at 14:21 #

    [Editor’s note: the following comment is from Dick Padlo, ILCA Executive Director]

    At the ILCA office and here at Lactation Matters, we have received a handful of questions about the balloting process for the current election (a proposed bylaws change and a candidate for the Director of Marketing).

    Because ILCA is deeply committed to ensuring the broadest possible participation in the election, I want to take this opportunity to address any concerns about the process.

    First, I would like to assure you that significant efforts are in place to ensure that members are aware of the voting now underway. All current ILCA members whose IBCLC credentials are verified were sent a ballot on 1 June 2014, with the subject line “ILCA Ballot Director of Marketing and Bylaws.” We know that emails may go into spam folders, or, in a very small number of cases, IBCLC status may not be accurately verified. As a part of our outreach plan to ensure that all members have received the ballot, ILCA has sent out notices about the election in multiple venues:

    – the ballot
    – an e-mail reminder in the ILCAlert (with another coming out tomorrow)
    – a blog post
    – multiple posts on social media

    Any IBCLC member who did not receive a ballot is encouraged to e-mail ILCA also welcomes all efforts to ensure the broadest possible participation. We encourage you to share this blog post on your Facebook page, Twitter account, or email lists where ILCA members are active participants.

    One member raised the concern that some voters may not be completing both questions on the ballot. Given that valid concern, ILCA staff checked the current votes to date. More than 95 percent of current voters have completed both questions. This assures us that nearly all members are reading and completing the ballot. However, if you (or any member) is concerned that you may not have completed both questions, we encourage you to contact for verification. We are deeply committed to ensuring the fullest possible participation in the process and are happy to double check your ballots if needed.

    Finally, some have expressed concern that the vote should have been split into two ballots. Again, our goal is the broadest possible participation, which is why both votes (the Director of Marketing and the bylaws change) were included in the same e-mail. However, the Director of Marketing position and the bylaws change are each voted upon separately, giving members the option to support one, both, or neither item on the ballot.

    It is an honor to work with a community that is so active and so clearly dedicated to ensuring the future of the profession. I welcome your questions, concerns, and feedback.

    Dick Padlo, Executive Director

    • Jennifer Tow, IBCLC, RLC 9 June 2014 at 14:31 #

      From what I understand there is less concern that people did not answer both questions, but rather that they falsely presumed the second question related to the first or was in some other way fairly insignificant. It is very clear that the gravity of this question was not adequately represented to members.

    • sburgernutr 10 June 2014 at 08:00 #

      I have requested resending of my ballot because I inadvertently deleted the first one after being away for a week due to a death in the family and confronted with the 1000 emails that accumulated during that time. I still have not received one yet.

      I am firmly against reopening voting rights to those who have not yet become IBCLCs. There are many ways to encourage collaboration and diversity without diluting the value of becoming an IBCLC. I have worked for many years in international development in over 33 non-European countries. I have seen a) many models of collaboration that worked as well as those that do not, b) many models for increasing diversity without diluting professional standards and c) no professional organization that opened up full voting rights to those who were not members of that profession. Every single professional I have spoken to about this issue from engineers to psychologists is dumbfounded by the notion of allowing nonprofessionals voting rights in a professional organization.

      I completely agree with others that have proposed tiered membership models. The New York Lactation Consultant Association has used such a model for many years now and we have a good mix of IBCLCs with complementary certificates and breastfeeding helpers with certificates who have become board certified. We have offered intensive in-depth workshops for interns who want to become IBCLCs. Now we are launching an internship program so that interns can rotate among mentors getting a diverse perspective of different ways of practices. The reward for participating in these programs and becoming an IBCLC is full voting rights and the ability to list all services (not just counseling services) on our website. We also require our IBCLC members to attend events once a year in order to be able to retain their right to list services on our website.

      Diversity is a catch all term that means different things to different people. The notion that lowering standards and criteria will improve diversity is actually quite patronizing. It is like school teachers that pass students so they look better on the “No Child Left Behind” statistics rather than really work with those students so they actually CAN do the work and feel a real sense of accomplishment. Saying that it is too hard for members of certain groups to become IBCLC is too hard for certain groups is like saying certain groups are not capable of becoming nurses, or paramedics or MDs. Courses of study which are actually far more expensive and time consuming than becoming an IBCLC.

      Instead, we have to look at the REASONS why there may be obstacles to becoming an IBCLC. In this case, the most repeated comments I read in the social media pertain to “lack of opportunity to be mentored” and “it doesn’t matter anyway”.

      As an IBCLC, I firmly believe that the mentoring I received is the single most important aspect of our credential that distinguishes us from other breastfeeding helpers and puts us in line with other health care practitioners who are licensed. In New York State, the lowest amount of supervised practice hours allowed was 300 for becoming an audiologist.

      Removing the criteria that you have to be a professional to vote, further feeds the false notion that more in depth training “doesn’t matter anyway” that is rampant on social media and is being actively propagated by those who have already sent out misleading information about five day courses being the same or superior to IBCLC training. Instead of “it doesn’t matter anyway”, ILCA of all organizations should be heavily promoting the notion of why IBCLCs are a very needed profession that provides a function that complements, but is different from, the work of other breastfeeding helpers. The whole reason I became an IBCLC is that all of my doctoral level education and all the counseling in the world would not have fixed my breastfeeding problems. My problem was not motivational, it was clinical. For that I saw a professional.

  46. Maria 9 June 2014 at 19:03 #

    I agree with my colleagues posts and I won’t support voting privileges for non- IBCLCs. ILCA is the IBCLC, RLC professional association and only IBCLCs should have voting privileges. Please promote, protect our credential if there are no boundaries between IBCLCs and non IBCLCs within our own professional association, what can we expect from everyone else?

    • Maria Cecilia Lameiro 10 June 2014 at 10:32 #

      This voting process should be cancelled and re-initiated. I should add my signature for the comment above and this one,

      Maria Cecilia Lameiro, IBCLC, RLC

  47. lactationmatters 9 June 2014 at 21:02 #

    Editor’s Note: Two additional comments have been removed at the request of the comment’s author. If you have any questions about the comments at Lactation Matters, please contact Thank you!

  48. Jennifer Moss Corbin 9 June 2014 at 23:03 #

    I agree that ILCA should only allow IBCLCs voting privileges. As a member of ILCA since 1998, I love the JHL and the continuing Ed that is offered. Any member is able to take advantage of the information and training, but the sole purpose of ILCA is to support and protect the IBCLC credential. Decision making should be placed in the hands of IBCLCs.

  49. Susan Cluitt 10 June 2014 at 06:36 #

    What sort of issues that require a vote might this proposal open up for non IBCLCs vote on??

  50. Helen Gray 10 June 2014 at 08:47 #

    I am an IBCLC and ILCA member in England.
    I want to strongly support the idea of tiered membership, with tiered benefits — giving low-cost access to current research, educational opportunities, and resources to those who aspire to become IBCLCs but who face economic, cultural, or international barriers to reaching that goal (just try to find a “one semester course in Biology” in your own language in a country which only offers full 3 year university degrees and no part-time or online courses — so you would have to take a full 3 year degree in Biology, plus a degree in Nutrition, etc etc to even access the IBLCE prerequisites!).
    But I simply cannot understand why non-IBCLCs would be able to vote in the professional association for IBCLCs. If this is our professional association, then those who have the professional credential should be making the decisions. And I believe that every voting member is taking part in those decisions, not just the ILCA Board, as the Board is elected by the voting members. So every voting member should be a professional IBCLC member.

    And I am afraid I too thought the email from ILCA was only referring to voting for a new Director of Marketing (or perhaps for a new position called “Director of Marketing and Bylaws”). While I realise that we can hardly complain if we don’t open and scrutinise every email, a proposed change of this magnitude should have been much more clearly communicated.

    • Maria Cecilia Lameiro 10 June 2014 at 10:36 #

      I agree with you Helen, I also did not read and scrutinised the email and I am afraid I might have voted yes to something I do not support!!! If this voting process is not cancelled and re-initiated I will not renew with ILCA. I am not the only IBCLC feeling the same way, many, many are very upset. This is a HUGE issue 🙁

      Maria Lameiro, IBCLC, RLC

  51. Tanja Knutson, IBCLC 10 June 2014 at 10:52 #

    First I want to say how much I respect this sort of dialogue – with people voicing their concerns, and the logic, thought and facts behind their point of view. And I appreciate the time and energy on both sides of this discussion – Liz and Jennifer – your passion is beautiful, as is your dedication to sharing information. Thank you to all who have taken the time to expose us to a very serious issue – one that I was completely unaware of.

    I oppose voting rights being extended to non-IBCLCs, as I do not see it furthering our profession. I understand there are “significant race- income- and geographic-based barriers” to our profession, but how are other professions addressing this? I haven’t the experience that many of you have, but in my limited research on this, I can’t find any mention of other professions taking on the mandate to remove those barriers AND simultaneously still protect the professional title. If ILCA is working towards taking command of the gold standard in the field, I do not see the connection between offering voting rights to non-IBCLCs and solidifying the excellence of our title, education and experience. Can someone please explain to me how extending voting rights will lower the race/income/geographic barriers to becoming an IBCLC? I do want to see the barriers come down, but that is the job of a completely different organization. It is a noble goal to work towards. I have travelled extensively to 3rd world countries, and was the main support person for isolated LLL Leaders throughout Asia, so I am aware of the dearth of breastfeeding support in these areas. But, I simply fail to comprehend how ILCA feels that this should be part of its mandate. We need ILCA’s energy and focus on wresting our title (LC) out of the grip of others and working towards ensuring that IBCLC is universally understood to be the Gold Standard in the field.

  52. sburgernutr 10 June 2014 at 13:02 #

    While I am still awaiting my ballot, I would like to make two requests of ILCA.
    1) Conduct a survey or hold a working group meeting for disenfranchised IBCLCs who no longer choose to become ILCA members, so that you can shore up your base by returning them to the fold. Surely we should place as high a priority on retaining IBCLCs as we do on recruiting new ones — or perhaps diluting the primary mission of a professional organization by opening it up to nonprofessionals.

    2) Ensure that future votes on the bylaws present both the pros AND cons to any changes in the bylaws. Usually when propositions are presented to the voting public there is a blurb for each side of the argument. And the cons should be written by someone who is articulate and well versed enough to write a credible discussion of the potential pitfalls.

    I think there is enough evidence in the responses here that the change to the bylaw was not sufficiently aired for people to feel they were making a thoughtful decision. I read it myself and didn’t pick up on “voting rights” being extended to nonIBCLCs until someone alerted me to this. Only when I read it very carefully did I find that section. I will never again quickly read any document proposing changes to bylaws. I will scrutinize it with the energy I typically reserve for peer-reviewed articles.

    • lactationmatters 10 June 2014 at 22:17 #

      Susan, I checked with the staff person responsible for sending you the new ballot. You should receive it tomorrow am. Please let me know if you don’t receive it. Thank you!

      • Rosalba D Gutierrez 11 June 2014 at 14:55 #

        I requested a ballot several days ago. Have not received it yet! The 15th is around the corner…

      • lactationmatters 11 June 2014 at 15:40 #

        Thank you, Rosalba, for checking in. I am forwarding your message to ILCA staff. Please let me know if you don’t hear back by tomorrow morning. You can reach me at media (at) ilca (dot) org.

      • lactationmatters 13 June 2014 at 08:48 #

        Rosalba, ILCA staff tells me this issue is resolved. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks!

      • lactationmatters 11 June 2014 at 15:44 #

        Susan, Jessica reports to me that the email issue has been resolved. Please let me know if you have any other questions. You can reach me at media (at) ilca (dot) org. Thanks!

  53. Peggy Hinkle, IBCLC, RLC 10 June 2014 at 13:59 #

    First, thank you to the Board for devoting so much time to this organization. As with every volunteer organization, a few do all the work. I have been guilty of the “go along, get along” approach to being a member. I’m sure that every one of us is involved in many activities in addition to helping moms and babies – it seems it’s just what women do. But the proposal to allow non-IBCLC’s voting rights has gotten my attention.

    (Thank you Tanja Knutson and many others for being so succinct! I would “like” your posts if I could.)

    I too do not understand how allowing non-IBCLC’s voting privileges will break down barriers. Perhaps it is true in countries other than the US – if so, I would appreciate an explanation. In the US, however, and already extending to a few other countries, there is nothing less than an attack and an undermining of the IBCLC credential. Individuals with a one-week class are marketing themselves as “lactation consultants”, and unsuspecting parents and even physicians have no clue. THIS should be the focus of our professional organization – not only to protect the profession, but to the best of our ability ensure moms and babies are getting appropriate care and follow-up.

    I am just now (embarrassingly) really reading the ILCA home page. I encourage everyone else to take a look. Starting at the top, we are a “worldwide network of lactation professionals”. Then we are the “International Lactation Consultant Association”. Of course we now know that the term “lactation consultant” is meaningless. And below, we read that ILCA has 6000 members from many disciplines. And farther below, in even smaller letters, we read that ILCA is the professional association for IBCLC’s – and other health care professionals. “Our vision is that the IBCLC is the globally recognized professional authority in lactation. Our mission is to advance the IBCLC professional worldwide through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research.”

    And there’s the rub – ILCA either IS or IS NOT the professional association for IBCLC’s. It is not the professional association of other health care professionals. ILCA either supports and pursues the stated vision and mission or it does not. So we as voting members either bring ILCA back to its stated course, or we form a new association completely devoted to the IBCLC and educating the public and other health care professionals as to the very real differences between IBCLC and other lactation helpers.

    I know I speak for many others when I say that we absolutely support the goal of breaking down barriers to access to becoming an IBCLC. But allowing non-IBCLC’s voting privileges is NOT the means by which this goal can be achieved.

  54. jenniferlisimachio 10 June 2014 at 14:55 #

    As an IBCLC and ILCA member I do not agree to allowing non-IBCLC’s voting rights. As such, I have voted no on the ballot.

    Jennifer Lisimachio, IBCLC

  55. jenniferlisimachio 10 June 2014 at 14:57 #

    As an IBCLC and ILCA member, I do not agree with allowing non-IBCLC’s voting rights. As such, I have voted no on the ballot.

  56. Stacey Novak 10 June 2014 at 15:50 #

    If we are allowed to voice our opinions then why are so many comments being taken down. What is ILCA trying to cover up by taking down other IBCLC comments. I agree with so many of your comments that ILCA should be the one protecting us.

    • lactationmatters 10 June 2014 at 17:26 #

      Lactation Matters and ILCA are both committed to an open, honest conversation. The only comments that have been removed have been at the request of the original author of the comment. All other comments have been approved. If you believe you have submitted a comment that has not been published, please contact the editor of Lactation Matters at media (at) ilca (dot) org.

  57. Celina Dykstra 10 June 2014 at 17:42 #

    It is has been said by others and I cannot help but agree.. it makes sense that IBCLCs are the ones that can vote on the topics brought to the table of their professional organization, ILCA.

    I see my situation as a Legal Alien (CLC, LLLL, MD, ND, etc) being similar. Holding a valid Green Card (lower tier membership) and paying taxes (membership dues – the same as anyone else pays) I sure as heck still can’t vote in ANY election in the US of A… Unless, of course, I would like to become an American Citizen – in which case I would have to fork out quite a few bucks, study 100 questions, and go take an oral exam on a specified date with numerous other candidates. No matter how frustrating or inconvenient… And then, only then, would I be able to vote on matters that determine the course if my life as a citizen of this country. That is a choice I am free to make or not – as I see fit.

    Call me old-fashioned, I guess – I am just of the school of thought that says a privilege has to be earned..

    Celina Dykstra, IBCLC, RLC

  58. Jennifer Welch 10 June 2014 at 20:57 #

    I am an IBCLC in Private Practice in Canada. I am also quite active in my province’s IBCLC association, sitting on the board as well as the conference committee, so I can appreciate the work that the ILCA BOD does.

    My provincial association allows anybody who wishes to become a member to do so, however only IBCLCs have the right to vote. I think this is the best way to do it. It allows non-IBCLCs to benefit from inexpensive quality education as well as networking opportunities and informal learning opportunities. However, only IBCLCs can decide the future of the organization because only IBCLCs have the knowledge and experience to be able to fully understand the issues at hand. I would expect nothing less from ILCA and frankly I am quite surprised and alarmed to learn that the ILCA BOD is considering opening up voting rights to non-IBCLCs. I am DEEPLY concerned by this and I am ABSOLUTELY OPPOSED to it.

    As my colleague Tanja Knutson said above, I too hope that barriers can come down so that our profession can become more diverse while maintaining the same high standards so as to ensure quality care for our clients. However, I do not see how allowing non-IBCLCs to vote will have any impact on these barriers. The barriers need to come down, but allowing non-IBCLCs to vote is not the way to do it.

    There are some very serious issues facing IBCLCs today in terms of recognition of the uniqueness of our credential amongst the sea of other breastfeeding helpers. The IBCLC credential truly is the credential that requires the most in-depth preparation, the most demanding criteria to maintain the credential, and the highest standards of practice. Many of us feel our profession is gravely threatened by various influences. I feel that allowing non-IBCLCs to vote on important matters within ILCA, which is the most important IBCLC association in the world, will dilute our ability to protect our profession.

  59. Edith Kernerman 11 June 2014 at 00:13 #

    Dear Liz, Cathy, Lisa, and the ILCA Board of Directors,
    Thank you for helping to host and moderate such an important and timely discussion around the proposed changes to our by-laws. I am very excited to see most of these changes come to pass and eagerly await the resurgence of enthusiasm and vigor I am sure they will bring. We have needed a new approach and a new model for a while now and I am thrilled to see such a proposed model is on its way to becoming reality.

    I must admit some deep concern around one aspect of the changes, and that is the bestowing of voting privileges to non-IBCLCs. Like OLCA Canada, ILCA has always allowed any supporter of breastfeeding, or any interested party able to pay her/his dues, the opportunity to avail herself of the fantastic resources ILCA and her affiliates have to offer. Though admittedly no other professional association allows non-professional members to participate or be active in their respective associations, non-IBCLCs are encouraged to sit on committees and participate in discussions and attend meetings and be a part of a community and network that has similar interests around breastfeeding and breastfeeding support. This inclusionary approach has been a cornerstone of ILCA/CLCA/OLCA in Canada and something to which we hold dear. I am confident this holds true in other ILCA affiliate countries as well. These rights however have never been extended to include voting and for good reason—IBCLCs are an endangered species. As a relatively new organization and one still trying to find respect and its place among standard medical teams, the IBCLC has faced many challenges trying to find a foothold in the bastions of medicine that still exist in every city. And yet, the IBCLC is uniquely positioned to advocate for herself and her fellow IBCLCs in such institutions and to advocate on behalf of families choosing to breastfeed; to help these families navigate through challenging times and overwhelming information. Her clinical expertise is like no other and it is to be valued, and promoted, and protected—just as ILCA is self-charged to do. No non-IBCLC can or should be expected to assume that responsibility. It is too important a role and difficult and specific. It can only be served by a body who is intimately aware of the complexities of the IBCLCs training, education, scope of practice, and raison d’être. To this end, the vote must be restricted to those having passed the IBLCE exam and have a current IBCLC, RLC registration.

    I am very much sensitive to, and do heartily appreciate and agree with Cathy’s comments vis a vis inclusion—we must certainly cherish and uphold this critical aspect of our practice and approach as a professional association. And to this end I believe it makes sense to ensure that in countries where an individual may be prohibited from carrying our certification because she does not also hold an MD, there should be exceptions made. However, in Canada and the U.S and certain parts of Europe and Israel and other areas where the IBCLC designation is very accessible, no exception is necessary. Allowing voting rights to non-IBCLCs in these countries is not only short sighted but a bit naïve and absolutely makes the IBCLC designation vulnerable to interests not aligned with those of ILCA or IBLCE. Recent publications, social media discussions, advertising campaigns all support this concern and strengthen the argument that ILCA, the International Lactation Consultant Association, must continue its mission “To advance the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) profession worldwide through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research.” and it can only do so by ensuring IBCLCs are the only ones to cast their votes.

    For this reason, I will be informing the OLCA Canada membership that its Board does not support the proposed by-law changes as they stand and that we as an association call for the removal of that particular clause that speaks to the voting rights of non-IBCLCs.

    Edith Kernerman, RLC, IBCLC
    President, Ontario Lactation Consultants Association Canada
    President, International Breastfeeding Centre
    Senior Faculty, Centre for Breastfeeding Education
    Clinic Director, Newman Breastfeeding Clinic
    Lead Researcher, Centre for Breastfeeding Research
    IBLCE Pathway Mentor

  60. Rebeca Four 11 June 2014 at 00:24 #

    Liz Brooks I wonder if you have any commentary on either of these two (letter and petition to the FTC) from Healthy Children Project, Inc.? Thank you.

    • Alisa Sanders 11 June 2014 at 15:19 #

      Since this is a US issue the United States Lactation Consultant Association will be commenting on this concern. Please watch our Facebook page for the comments and the location of the post.
      Thank you for monitoring all of the areas where IBCLCs are mentioned in the US. We need more members like you alerting the board when you become aware of these concerns. .
      Thank you,
      Alisa Sanders RN,IBCLC
      United States Lactation Consultant Association

      • Fay Bosman 11 June 2014 at 22:21 #

        Dear Alisa, I have heard (but the information could be incorrect) that Healthy Children and their CLC certification is busy in Canada and beyond. This may not just be a US problem.
        Thank you for helping work on this concern.
        Fay Bosman, IBCLC, RLC
        Vancouver, WA, USA

      • Beth mcmillan 12 June 2014 at 08:37 #

        This is not only a US issue. Concerns are slightly different here but just as valid. Representing yourself as a ‘lactation consultant’ when you are not an IBCLC is problematic no matter where you are. We don’t have the same issue with insurance reimbursement (hardly anyone gets reimbursement here for lactation care – unless they are also an RN – and we are generally not covered by provincial health care plans unless we work in hospital) so it is hard enough to work and be known and respected without others coming in and offering the ‘same’ services with much much less training.

  61. Beverly Morgan IBCLC 11 June 2014 at 00:34 #

    Please recall this ballot and start over. Some mention of people voting more than once and an unclear ballot. Do not try to bury this subject by burying it. Is ILCA an IBCLE org or not? Is it time for an org that is for IBCLC’s?

  62. Jaye Simpson 11 June 2014 at 15:54 #

    As a member of ILCA, and an IBCLC I too do not support voting by non-IBCLCs. If ILCA is supposed to be an IBCLC Professional organization then ONLY IBCLCs should have voting rights.

    I am one of those who voted – not realizing that the ‘yes’ was for the bylaws. Read some of the discussion on one of our FB groups, thought I understood what was going on and was initially OK with the accidental Yes Vote. Then I learned more – I started poking around more, read the comments here and realized that with more information I was absolutely NOT OK with non-IBCLCs voting.

    The information provided was not clear. There should have been thorough discussion prior to any vote. We should have had all the information up front to make an educated decision (where have we heard that before?) – but we didn’t. I DID go back and re-vote and changed my vote to No. How? I don’t know. I clicked on the link in the email…I just hope it ‘took’.

    I also agree with those who have said Cancel the current vote and start over. ILCA will get a much more accurate vote with it’s members having a better idea of what the change is all about.


    Jaye Simpson, IBCLC, RLC

  63. Helen Gray IBCLC 12 June 2014 at 07:38 #

    I just wanted to reiterate that I like many other IBCLCs stand firmly IN FAVOUR of opening up access to IBCLCs qualification to those who are facing barriers to entry, whether educational, economic, cultural, language, financial, or any other type.
    But increasing access would be installing more “rungs on the ladder” at access points, within reach of all, not simply giving a vote in ILCA.

    There are huge gaps which ILCA could work to fill:

    — opportunities for low cost lactation education
    — encouraging educational institutions to provide low-cost health education prerequisites
    — all in more languages and in more countries, and online
    — opportunities for supervised clinical hours
    — opportunities for skilled mentorship
    — bursaries and scholarships to bring these opportunities within the reach of all
    — ensuring that the IBCLC credential is well known EVERYWHERE as the highest standard of professional credential in lactation, so that more employment opportunities are there for those who want to become IBCLCs (otherwise how is it worth the investment for someone who has little time and resources to invest?)
    — GOING OUT and speaking to disenfranchised communities, to ask what people really want and need. I suspect that more people might want more of the above than want an actual vote before they’ve even qualified as an IBCLC.

    I hope that the upcoming Summit on Inequities will be actively looking at strategies like these and more.

    I also hope that the work of the Summit will be live streamed on the internet, and very quickly and widely available afterwards.

    But the decision-making of a professional association should be done by those professionals themselves; giving non-IBCLCs a vote in ILCA does not increase their ability to become IBCLCs.

    Best wishes

  64. padamson5 12 June 2014 at 17:01 #

    Can I change my vote? After the FTC thing and knowing there are 3-4 times as many CLCs as there are IBCLCs, I see voting rights creating a great surge in new memberships. I see those percentages that Liz quoted being completely reversed. With that kind of voting power anything can be changed by that majority vote: Mission, Vision, Values, AND Bylaws. In that way IBCLC will still be the best but CLC will be just as good. Where have I heard thatr before?
    Phyllis Adamson, IBCLC for 20 years in 2013, who voted too quickly without thorough study.

  65. Phyllis Adamson 12 June 2014 at 21:13 #

    Can’t remember if I voted on this or now. Found my email dated June 1 and Liz’ reminder dated June 2. Links are still blue, so maybe I still can vote? I didn’t take much note of this until someone drew our attention to the FTC’s Project on Examining Health Care Competition and how Healthy Children and their lawyer participated but USBC, ILCA and USLCA were not Noticed for it. So glad that USLCA will send a response and hope it is within the deadline required.
    Noting Liz’ percentages for ILCA membership: 86% IBCLC and 14% non-IBCLC, my fear is that if CLCs get voting rights you will see those percentages to a flip flop as hundreds of CLCs pay to join. The result being CLCs become the controlling majority of voting members – like a hostile takeover. They will have the numbers to rewrite and pass anything, like the Mission Statement, Bylaws, everything. That will certainly change the landscape whole purpose of ILCA. The IBCLC will become the “best” but the CLC will become “just as good”. Where did I hear that before?
    Phyllis Adamson, BA, IBCLC, RLC
    20 years as of Oct 2013

  66. Rachel Lamb 13 June 2014 at 06:34 #

    I wrote a huge reply the other day and for some reason it hasn’t shown up, anyway, honestly this is the short road to destroying our IBCLC profession, is that what ILCA wants? I think ILCA and HC need to take money out of the game and think of the real people that a decision like this will affect, I can’t vote because I can’t afford ILCA membership but if I could it would certainly be NO, I cannot understand why our profession is being betrayed by the exact organisation that is supposed to be protecting us. The other thing that has concerned me from reading through the thread is that MANY have been confused about the vote, I may tentatively say that this was not a mistake because of the bent of ILCA. I am EXCEPTIONALLY disappointed with the ‘laisser faire’ attitude of ILCA towards HC and have to ask why is ILCA so keen to let this pass, and beggars the question of what is really going on behind the scenes that we are very obviously unaware of.

    • lactationmatters 13 June 2014 at 08:44 #

      Rachel, I have checked our comment stream and don’t see an unpublished comment from you. All comments are being published (typically within a few hours of being submitted). I’m sorry your first comment didn’t “go through” – thanks for resubmitting.

  67. Phyllis Adamson 13 June 2014 at 19:51 #

    I was swinging back toward YES when I had another thought related to the FTC Project. It’s that none of our organizations knew it was happening; not USBC or ILCA or USLCA. If the FTC sent out Notices, our professional but non-profit groups did not get one. But Healthy Children did. And their leadership / ownership has a number of IBCLCs. And H.C. submitted their statement advocating for their CLC certificants and against IBCLC credentialed people. Their loyalty resides with their business and that’s understandable. But that means they avoided doing what the rest of us would have done: that is to notify ILCA or USLCA or USBC about this FTC Project.
    Their conflict is they ride both sides of that fence – unless NONE of these IBCLCs are members of ILCA / USLCA or in any way not involved with USBC. But if any of them actually ARE members, their COI supports their business and subverts ILCA/ USLCA.
    That is swinging me back to NO.
    Tell me where I am wrong on this, please.
    And tell me how allowing them voting privileges will change their COI.

    Phyllis Adamson, BA, IBCLC, RLC

  68. Mary Francell 14 June 2014 at 15:13 #

    I am a member of ILCA, and am in training to become an IBCLC. I did not receive a ballot and would like to register my vote of NO on the proposed bylaws changes. I do not have a problem being a non voting member of ILCA until I am certified. I checked the websites of a couple of other professional organizations. The AMA does not allow nonphysicians to join unless they are students enrolled in medical school. The American Psychiatric Association has similar requirements. I imagine that if you do not complete medical school within a set number of years, then you are not allowed to renew your membership. Perhaps ILCA could have similar membership levels – IBCLC, retired, student, etc. – and one could only stay at the “in training” level for a set number of years.

  69. Helen Gray IBCLC 16 June 2014 at 14:35 #

    Wow, what a responsive organisation! A full vote on all the proposed changes to the bylaws!
    I look forward to perusing the bylaws closely for the next vote!
    And I REALLY look forward to this summer’s Summit being a place where our voices are heard!
    Thank you ILCA

  70. Karyn-grace Jacoba 16 June 2014 at 22:38 #

    Glad to read the email from ILCA today regarding a new vote on the Bylaws, with each Bylaw amendment being voted on separately. Thank you for listening.

  71. Sharon C. Watkins 17 June 2014 at 10:26 #

    I am looking forward to revisiting ILCA’a mission with my colleagues & focusing on forward goals of Licensure. I am waiting for the ILCA BOARD of DIRECTORS to propose changes that will elevate voting rights to IBCLC professionals solely. I am encouraged with a “new vote” being sent out.
    Membership benefits should be tiered with regard to benefits & fees.

  72. Freda Rosenfeld 17 June 2014 at 16:32 #

    First I would like to thank the board for their responsiveness: but I would like to express a few thoughts
    As an IBCLC for almost 24 years, a past president of the NYC lactation consultants association, and their past, long running education chair, I understand that for some the cost of becoming an IBCLC is high But I also know that the education and hard work are worth it, Think about this, do those who wish to become doctors, nurses, etc just say I can not afford to be a doctor let me in anyway, No they get loans, scholarships sponsorships, to help pay the way. And maybe we as a group need to work harder to make that possible for those who need our help to accomplish this important goal.

    In what other profession does one go to school one week and then, get to call themselves a professional. Would you use a plumber who only took a one week course, Obviously not. So, why are we acceding to the CLCs , who are doing just that. We are the more accomplished breastfeeding healthcare provider, and they should understand this, and more importantly ILCA has to make them understand this. Thus they should have limited benefits as ILCA members .

    If we don’t respect our profession and the hard good work we do, then no one else will

    Fellow IBCLCs I urge you to band together and protect are profession.

    we need to.:
    1. patent the term lactation consultant ( the others can be advisors, aides etc )
    2, we need to work toward universal licensure in all 50 states and any other counties where this is applicable.
    Freda Rosenfeld, IBCLC (since 1990) CCE

    • sburgernutr 21 June 2014 at 10:25 #

      Hi Freda:
      I think you meant trade mark. You cannot patent a profession, you can only patent an innovative product.

      As for universal licensure, I think we need to take a lesson from the experience with the Affordable Care Act. The provisions for reimbursement for breastfeeding services were not worked out in details.

      For example:
      a) Since the details such as “what constitutes an appropriate pump for specific circumstances” has lead to almost all of the breastfeeding specialty stores (typically women owned businesses) where women could get advice about pumps and products which was knowledgable and not merely company propaganda have gone out of business. Felina at the Upper Breast Side just did a survey of shops and most are not gone. The DMEs have flooded the market with inferior pumps and most IBCLCs I know are now seeing an increase in pump trauma, plugged ducts and mastitis because the insurance companies are delaying the delivery of pumps and providing inferior pumps.

      b) Since the details of who gets covered for what services was not spelled out in detail, the insurance companies are not honoring the statements of the Surgeon General that IBCLCs are the go to source and that IBCLCs should be covered regardless of licensure. So now, in an unprecedented move, a group is asking to be covered by insurance without even the minimum training of any other health care professional — because they are marketing the falsehood that their program “just the same” or “better than” IBCLCs.

      c) Furthermore, coverage of lactation services was sold as “preventive services”. We do more than “preventive services” we “evaluate and manage”. Even if we can prevent many of the current iatrogenically induced problems (from US culture and US health care systems) we will still need to address clinical problems. Had we had the foresight to distinguish between the “preventive counseling services” of peer counseling programs and actually fought for standards for what constitutes adequate counseling education (which to me is more than a few role plays in a classroom setting) and distinguished what constitutes “evaluation and management” with specific criteria for that as well, we would be on a much better footing. Having reviewed the CLC training materials, they do not make the leap to “evaluation” and certainly don’t have materials that adequately prepare one for multifaceted “management”. Those can ONLY be achieved through supervised practice and that is why licensing includes minimum requirements for health care professionals.

      I can see many scenarios where licensing would be helpful and I can also see that if licensing is rushed through without paying attention to the details it can do us a huge disservice. Licensing is important, but not a panacea for the radical changes that are happening in the United States. Since what happens in the United States can often be transmitted to other countries and since the United States IBCLCs are among a majority of the IBCLCs at present, it behooves us to think like we are playing chess and not like we are playing checkers. We need to look at the big picture in a multifaceted way and anticipate problems rather than react to them.

      On this very discussion board we are having a very important discussion about who should be included for voting rights to an organization that is supposed to promote the IBCLC. An equally important discussion that would have serious ramifications for the future of IBCLCs is WHO should be included on the licensing boards for IBCLCs. I have seen a lot of promotional materials about licensing but I have not seen an important layout for an effective multifaceted strategy that explains that all the details of how licensing will be implemented are put together in such a way to avoid obvious and not so obvious pitfalls.

  73. kbanusRNIBCLC 19 June 2014 at 17:58 #

    I came late to this party. I will definitily be voting next week. I appreciate that ILCA is re-doing the by-laws vote.
    I understand their concern about having more members. The tiered membership idea is not unusual and is common in similar organizations.
    As for cost to others around the world, why not have “regional” price structures that are a reflection of the economies there? Maybe calculate the membership fees as a percentage of the usual earnings of an IBCLC in that region. Because i promise you, I would not have joined if it cost me a months wages!

    I think there are creative minds in ILCA who can address the perceived issues without diluting the strength of the organization and its stated mission.

    I would LOVE to know more about how we are advocating for the IBCLC as the standard credential.


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