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With Deep Gratitude: Decalie Brown’s Presidential Farewell Interview

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Thank you Decalie Brown!

During Decalie Brown’s presidential tenure, ILCA has made major transitions that will guide its future: new core values of diversity, equity, and knowledge; a new vision and mission; and a strategic map.

With a new committee structure in place and growing Partner Initiative that now boasts 21 national-regional partners, ILCA is well positioned to transform world health through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care.

As her tenure as President draws to a close, we asked Decalie to share with us a bit about how she got involved, and the highlights – and challenges – of her time at the helm of the ILCA board.


How did you first get involved with ILCA in a volunteer capacity? What jobs have you held before becoming president?

After working as a registered nurse and midwife for most of my career, a significant back injury and a job opportunity drastically changed my direction towards community health nursing. This change of direction meant I was caring at the next level of nursing supporting mothers to achieve their breastfeeding goals in their own homes. It sounded like a dream job. After reading lactation and breastfeeding books, I was hooked! Mothers and babies achieving and fulfilling their breastfeeding goals was to be my life’s ambition.

I quickly discovered what an IBCLC was. I became a skilled lactation supporter in 2001. It was a proud moment and has continued to be so for me.

I presented a local parenting young group with a poster and volunteered for my first ILCA conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA in July 2006. It was one of the best received and well attended in ILCA’s history!

I had no idea of the requirements for a research poster and therefore had no expectation of what was in store. I was thrilled to have it on the wall and have the poster of an Australian young mother feeding her twins, who I had successfully supported to breast feed 18 months earlier. While there, I met two past ILCA Presidents judging my poster. There were mistakes galore including having it look 3D! I didn’t care. I felt so proud at that moment. The judges didn’t care. They were so encouraging, and I will never forget their kindness. Thank you Becky Mannel and Doraine Bailey.

I remember so well meeting so many of those ‘important people’ in the lactation world, sitting, talking and eating with them throughout the conference sessions, and of course, capturing that photo! I will forever treasure sitting on the bus beside my hero Ruth Lawrence to tour the Primary Health facility of CHOP. Meeting the then President Sue Cox, a fellow Australian, also my hero, was fantastic. I truly admired her courage to stand at the front and address all those conference delegates. That was a great start.

After being invited to attend as a special guest at the ILCA International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®) planning days in Las Vegas 2008, I had my first Board of Director experience on the Australian Lactation Consultant Board thanks to Gwen Moody’s gentle persuasions. I moved on to join ILCA in 2009.

Working for years in a partnership model with families enabled me to listen and empower others as a new board member. I enjoyed the excitement of the Marketing Director role, and we were lucky to have flexible volunteers on the committee. Most were young mothers themselves juggling work, family and volunteering for ILCA.


What has been your most fulfilling accomplishment as president? Your most challenging?

The birth of Lactation Matters was a major achievement. It was conceived of by Courtney Puge from SAGE Publications, wonderful ILCA volunteer Robin Kaplan, and myself. It was launched within three short weeks, in time for World Breastfeeding Week in 2011. A special thank you to Amber McCann, who was Lactation Matters next editor.

One of the greatest challenges at ILCA has also been one of our greatest successes. As I began my two years as the ILCA President, we – the ILCA BOD and ILCA staff – took a long hard look in the mirror, and we knew our structure and processes had to change.

Although the path was not yet obvious, we committed to making changes at ILCA. We knew that not every one of our plans would be popular. We also recognized that the change would not be small. Together, we undertook a complete renovation of ILCA.

We defined new core values for ILCA: Knowledge, Diversity and Equity. We made a new strategic plan and changes to be in line with our new vision: transforming world health through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care.

I would like to congratulate and thank the staff under Dick Padlo, Jessica Lytle and Marcy Cottle for their leadership, the inspirational marketing team, Amber McCann and Jeanette McCulloch, and the board of directors (BOD), who have been visionary and bold in their leadership. No stone has been left unturned.

This presidential term has been intense. We all have worked incredibly hard to embrace the changes and enhance opportunities for you, our members, and for the long term benefit for the lactation organisation.

We listened intensely and made much needed changes. At 31 years old, every aspect of ILCA is now strategically aligned with our strategic map. We can now say our home is newly renovated with the design and organisational framework we will need to reach our goals.

Our foundation is solid. We now can finalise the designs of our new structure that will enable us to work efficiently, to communicate effectively, and to be diverse and equitable while working to transform world health through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care. With five advisory committee structures almost complete and with a total of 21 new National-Regional partnerships, ILCA is in excellent shape. Watch for ILCA Connect, a new community that will help ILCA members communicate more effectively.

However, we need your help to continue the work we have started. We need you to volunteer for ILCA, and stand behind the organisation you know and trust. I encourage you to volunteer now to represent the next generations on the committees and leadership positions.

We are now strategically aligned. We are now organised. We are committed to transparency. The next phase of building will be under the leadership of the inspiring incoming President Michele Griswold and the ILCA BOD including new board member, Geraldine Cahill. The ILCA BOD and staff now representing and supporting you are a phenomenal team. Please get to know them!


What is your vision for the future of ILCA?

Over these past months I have reflected on my time on the ILCA board. The skills and lessons I have learned along the way are enormous. I am fortunate to have had the time of my life. However, I have also realised that becoming and being an IBCLC has been a privilege for me. I acknowledge the struggle others have go through to achieve this credential and the recognition of our profession. We must continue to work together to make changes so that becoming an IBCLC is possible for everyone.

Advocacy – both for ILCA and the IBCLC credential – will ensure that we can nurture all mothers, babies, and families across the globe. The next steps are, of course, evolving to meet the unique needs of communities around the world. After seeing briefly first-hand the refugees at the port in Athens, it is even more apparent that all mothers and babies need skilled lactation support. These are our future generations.


Is there anything you would like to add?

I want to extend a huge thank you to our members for sticking with us and entrusting us with the authority to govern your beloved professional organisation.

Personally, I consider myself privileged to have led this organisation after all the wonderful volunteers, board members and presidents who came before me. Becoming the ILCA President was never my intension when I started out in 2009. However, I took up the challenge. I am deeply honored and will be forever grateful to the ILCA membership, the BOD and staff for the amazing gift this opportunity it has given me.

THANK YOU to you, the amazing men and women who I have had the pleasure of meeting and working closely with over the years.

I ask you to keep all mothers and babies your priority.

I wish you all well, good health and happiness.

As I say farewell, it is not goodbye.






2 Responses to With Deep Gratitude: Decalie Brown’s Presidential Farewell Interview

  1. Dana Lauducci 21 July 2016 at 16:45 #

    Who will be the incoming president be?

    • lactationmatters 21 July 2016 at 16:52 #

      Michele Griswold will be inducted as our new president tomorrow.

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