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2018 ILCA Elections: Board of Directors

The ILCA Board of Directors has presented a ballot for ILCA voting members to select their next Director.

All ILCA members who are certified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®) and are in good standing should have received an email from ILCA on 23 April 2018 containing a link to the ballot (subject line: Your 2018 ILCA Board of Directors Ballot). If you did not receive an email and you should have, please contact the ILCA Office at (or) 1+ 919-861-5577 (or) 888-452-2478. Our ILCA staff is eager to make sure you get a ballot so your vote can be counted. To ensure a timely and secure election, all voting will take place through an online survey.

Prior to casting a vote, all voting ILCA members are encouraged to thoughtfully consider all information provided below. This will enable you to make an informed decision. Vote carefully: Once your vote is cast, it cannot be changed, repeated, or cancelled.

The balloting commences 23 April 2018 and concludes 07 May 2018, at which time all electronic votes will be tallied by the ILCA staff.

Board of Director Elections

On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are pleased to present the 2018 ballot for election of one Director. The Nominations Task force used an objective scoring system to conduct a fair and impartial assessment of each application. After thorough review and analysis, the following candidates were approved by the ILCA Board of Directors. This year, we will be electing one new director.

A Director must be elected by a majority of ILCA voting members. (Note: ILCA Bylaw 3.4 confers voting privileges to those dues-paying ILCA members who are also IBCLC certificants.)

To run for the position of ILCA Director, ideally, candidates would:

  1. Have prior experience within ILCA; or experience in other national or international breastfeeding/professional advocacy groups, preferably in a board/director post or demonstrated leadership in other positions;
  2. Have verbal, written, organizational, teamwork, and delegation skills;
  3. Be sensitive to the challenges of ensuring equitable access to positions of leadership within ILCA for historically underrepresented groups; and
  4. Be sensitive to the challenges of ensuring equitable access to breastfeeding and skilled lactation care in areas where breastfeeding practices are unequal.

Please take time to review the profiles of each nominee, by clicking on their names, prior to casting your vote. You will vote for one.

Stephanie George, Bachelor of Arts (Honors), Aboriginal Midwife, IBCLC, Postpartum Depression Support Person, Crisis Trauma Responder; Jarvis, Ontario, Canada

Meena Sobsamai, Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, Registered Nurse Midwife, Graduate Diploma in Childbirth Education, IBCLC; Bangkok, Thailand

The ILCA Board extends a special thanks to the Nominations Task Force for their efforts on behalf of the entire membership.

Questions? Comments? Share them here! We want to hear from you.



Organizational Documents: ILCA’s Commitment to Transparency

Lactation Matters Post Titles (5)

This week, ILCA is launching a new, occasional series featuring the voices of ILCA board members. We hope you will learn about the people behind the many decisions the board makes every day to bring ILCA closer to our core values of knowledge, equity, and diversity.

ILCA strives to be transparent to our members.

Wondering about the priorities for ILCA Board of Directors? Or actions we’ve taken or decisions we’ve made? The minutes of the Board of Directors meetings are one way to keep up with ILCA’s actions.

Making the minutes readily available to members and making other key documents easier to find on our website are two ways the ways the ILCA board is working towards transparency with our community.

I have been an ILCA member for over 10 years, and have been honored to serve as Secretary of the Board of Directors for almost 5 years.

As Secretary, it is my job to report the Board’s decisions in minutes of our meetings. While the recommendation for organizational meetings is to simply report the actions and motions made at the meeting, I almost always include some of the background or discussion behind those actions and motions to further inform members about those decisions.

The minutes are reviewed for accuracy and approved by the Board. Additionally, I write minutes for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the association, which is held each July at the Conference. The minutes from the previous year are presented there and approved by members.

If you haven’t found the minutes or other organizational documents on our new website, I’d like to guide you to them. You can visit them now by clicking HERE.

To locate them later, click on “about ILCA” on the website and scroll to Board of Directors. You will find the content at the bottom of the page here:

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 2.07.05 PM

Full public access is available for:

Bylaws – these are the rules by which the association is governed.

Organizational Chart – showing how the different parts of the association fit together, and how we work with outside organizations.

Strategic Map – identifies the vision, mission, core values, goals, and objectives of the association, and generally guides all Board decisions.

Form 990 – an annual reporting form that certain nonprofit organizations in the United States of America must file with the Internal Revenue Service, and which provides information on the organization’s mission, programs, and finances.

Lisa smiling headshot

Lisa Mandell, MBA, IBCLC, Secretary, ILCA Board of Directors

Additionally, ILCA members have access to all the minutes of Board meetings that I mentioned previously, from January 2015 on. We are working to add the Electronic Motions and Actions documents (a record of decisions made on the online platform used by the Board between meetings), and minutes of the Annual General Meeting (AGM). Also here are the reports of our financial audits for the last several years. An audit is an independent examination of a nonprofit’s financial records by a licensed certified public accountant; it is an examination of the financial records, accounts, business transactions, accounting practices, and internal controls.

I hope that access to this information helps you to feel more informed as a member of ILCA. The ILCA Board of Directors is committed to transparency – that is, we want our members to know what decisions we are making, and why. We do this work for you, and as an effort to advance the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant profession worldwide through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research. This will help us to achieve our vision of world health transformed through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care.

As always, we welcome your input and your questions.


ILCA Seeks New Vote on 2014 Bylaws Changes

ILCALogo_full_text (2)ILCA voting members will be sent an email on 24 June 2014, with a link to a secure on-line ballot to vote on changes to the organization’s bylaws. The balloting will be open 24 June – 6 July 2014.

The ILCA Board of Directors supports the proposed changes. Voting ILCA members are encouraged to make an informed decision after thoughtful consideration of the issues.

Didn’t I just do this?

Yes! However, the bylaws portion of the recent ballot has been called into question. The ILCA Board has called for a new vote, on the bylaws alone.

How is this ballot different?

ILCA has re-formatted the ballot, allowing bylaws elements to be voted on by section (instead of all-or-none). We are using a different election platform to assure one-member-one-vote. Vote carefully: Once your vote is cast, it cannot be changed or cancelled.

How will I know my vote counts this time?

ILCA members are urged to confirm that their Profile on the secure Members Only portion of the ILCA website has their current email and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® ( IBCLC®) certification status. A 16 June 2014 listserv, and 17 June 2014 Lactation Matters blog, describe the detailed steps.

If a dues-paid, IBCLC-certified ILCA member does not receive an email on 24 June 2014 containing a link to the new ballot, please contact the ILCA Office at (or) 1+  919-861-5577 (or) 888-452-2478. Our ILCA staff are eager to make sure members receive a ballot so their votes can be counted.

Are the bylaws changes proposed in this new ballot different from in the last one?

No. The proposed 2014 amendments to the ILCA bylaws remain the same. Only the ballot itself is different. It now allows members to vote on bylaws in sections, instead of all-or-none.

I’m an auditory learner! Where can I learn about all these bylaws changes?

This 10 minute recorded webinar will explain the ILCA Board’s reasoning for the proposed changes to the bylaws, for those who prefer to hear (rather than read) about the amendments.

I love the printed word. What should I read?

This document shows the Proposed 2014 ILCA bylaws, providing “tracked changes” to the 2007 bylaws. It lets you compare the old version with the new. The document also summarizes all the changes, and the Board’s rationale for each, section-by-section.

Can I discuss this with my colleagues before I vote?

Please do! This ILCA Lactation Matters blog, and other social media venues, have allowed shared and vibrant conversation about ILCA’s governance! Use the comments section below. Be certain of your position before you vote: You cannot change or cancel your vote once it is cast.

Ballot Vote No. 1: Why does the ILCA Board support a “representative board?”

The new bylaws create a board of directors designed to fairly represent the interests of its diverse international membership. ILCA must meet the needs of its 5400 individual members around the world, without giving any one geographic region more decision-making weight. Board directorships are guaranteed to be held by someone who represents each of the Partner (Tier 1) Affiliates (Partner Affiliates: Canadian Lactation Consultant Association, CLCA, Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand, LCANZ, and the United States Lactation Consultant Association, USLCA). But there is also a seat to be held by a director who is not from those regions.

This matrix of autonomously-governed organizations is a unique model, developed after extensive discussion between ILCA, CLCA, LCANZ and USLCA. We envision a better-defined operational and financial relationship between these organizations, without compromising individual ILCA member benefits and resources. The representative board is an important element of our collaboration going forward.

The ILCA Board supports this amendment because the bylaws must be changed to allow for a representative board to be guaranteed in ILCA’s governance.

Ballot Vote No. 2: Why does the ILCA Board support changes to directors’ selection and term limits?

The old and new bylaws are the same on certain key elements: All Directors of ILCA must be IBCLC-certified. All directors have a legal duty to uphold the Purposes of ILCA: To provide leadership, advocacy, professional development and research for the IBCLC profession.

Under the revised bylaws, terms for Board members are clearly defined to end after two terms (whether originally appointed or elected). Any Director who is invited for a second term would require ratification by member vote to retain office. The President-designate would also need member vote ratification before taking office.

The ILCA Board supports this amendment because it infuses new leadership on a faster track. It requires members to periodically affirm their support of the leaders in office. This reduces the “disconnect” between the elected board and the members whose interests they are to uphold.

Ballot Vote No. 3: Why does the ILCA Board support giving voting powers to all dues-paying ILCA matters?

ILCA members have power to vote to (1) elect Directors, (2) ratify bylaws changes, and (3) make motions at the Annual General Meeting.

Since 1985, ILCA has invited open membership, to anyone who supports our mission (“ILCA Mission: To advance the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) profession worldwide through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research”). From 1985-2007, any dues-paying ILCA member could vote.

In 2007 voting rights were confined to IBCLC-only members, to demonstrate strong ILCA advocacy for the IBCLC. Yet, in 2014, ILCA’s IBCLC-promoting mission faces increased threat from external economic, political and governmental influences. Our mission is not undermined by internal member-voters, who elect IBCLC-credentialed Directors who are legally-bound to uphold ILCA’s IBCLC-promoting purpose.

Undeniably, demographics of ILCA membership, and the pathways of entry into our profession as a whole, show 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. A 27 July 2014 Lactation Summit Addressing Inequities within the Lactation Consultant Profession (co-hosted by LEAARC, ILCA and IBLCE) will commence a top-to-bottom look at how to increase diversity, and enhance equity for IBCLCs.

Right now, those who are actively seeking IBCLC certification do not have a professional “home.” The burden falls to the individual to cobble together education and training that will be acceptable to meet pathway requirements of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners. ILCA wants to attract, and keep, these members, who will otherwise turn to competing organizations for education and support. ILCA’s international role has always been: Serve current IBCLCs, and engage and help others who believe in our work, and want to become a part of our profession.

Inclusion will propel this profession into growth and sustainability. To address the challenges of current members, and generations of IBCLCs to come, there must be an invited and equitable voice by those in our association. Inclusion assumes full acceptance; in a membership organization, that includes voting rights.

The ILCA Board supports this amendment to giving voting rights to all dues-paying members as means to increase diversity and enhance equity.

Ballot Vote No. 4: Why does the ILCA Board support all these other little edits?

Any bylaw amendment, no matter how small and non-controversial, requires member vote in support. There are several such changes that we have “saved up” for the next bylaws vote, which is now, in 2014.

The ILCA Board supports changes that will correct typographical errors and provide consistency of language.

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!


Lisa Akers Elected; Bylaws Vote Update

ILCALogo_full_text (2)Editor’s Note: This update was sent to all ILCA members on 16 June 2014. If you are an ILCA member in good standing and did not receive the email, please check your promotions box (Gmail). If you still did not receive the email, it is particularly important that you complete the steps for confirming your email listed below.

The ILCA Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Lisa Akers has been elected by a near unanimous vote (98%) as the new Director of Marketing. Her three-year term will commence July 2014. The Board of Directors welcomes Lisa and looks forward to working with her to continue ILCA’s mission: to advance the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) profession worldwide through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research.

During the voting process, ILCA discovered several voting irregularities pertaining specifically to the vote on revisions to ILCA’s bylaws. There were reports of the ballot being misread, or misunderstood, and at least one known instance of a single member submitting multiple votes. While these inconsistencies did not statistically impact the outcome of the Director election, they do raise some question as to the validity of the bylaws vote.

A second issue surfaced during the election process regarding the inability of voting members to selectively vote on specific bylaws changes. Those individuals who objected to specific changes felt obligated to vote “no” for the entire proposal or not vote at all.

The ILCA Board of Directors is grateful that, during a spirited members’ discourse on the LM blog, ILCA members brought these issues to our attention.

Thus, the BOD has decided that the bylaws vote should be repeated under a modified format. First, internal controls will be changed to allow voting members to cast a single vote only that cannot be changed once cast. Second, the bylaws vote will be reformatted to allow voting members the opportunity to vote selectively for individual bylaws changes.

The modified vote will take place between 24 June and 6 July 2014. To ensure the fullest participation possible in the revised election and the most accurate voting process possible, each ILCA member is asked to confirm their ILCA profile email address and IBCLC status no later than 22 June 2014. To do so, please comply with the following steps:

  1. Proceed to the ILCA website and complete your Member Login
  2. Select the “Edit My Profile” link at the top of the page
  3. Verify your email address
  4. Select “Update” at the bottom of the page
  5. Select the “Custom” link at the top of the page
  6. Change your “IBCLC?” status from “False” to “True” (if appropriate)
  7. Insert your “IBCLC ID #” in the space provided
  8. Select “Save” at the bottom of the page

The first role of the ILCA Board of Directors is to uphold ILCA’s mission: to advance the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) profession worldwide through leadership, advocacy, professional development, and research. ILCA will continue to be led only by those who hold IBCLC certification. The Board of Directors, committee chairs, and liaisons must all be IBCLC certified. We know that those in our profession are best suited to leading and advancing the profession. If you are concerned about threats to the IBCLC credential, it is critical that you remain a member of ILCA (or join if your membership has lapsed). ILCA, and our partner affiliates Canadian Lactation Consultant Association (CLCA), Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ), and United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA), are working hard with governments, non-governmental organizations, insurers, other healthcare providers, and other organizations involved in breastfeeding support and promotion, to ensure that the IBCLC is the globally recognized professional authority in lactation.

One measure of excellence within an organization is its ability to adapt. The Board of Directors recognizes that it is essential that ILCA remain relevant and responsive to its members around the world, and continue to work with the hundreds of organizations throughout the world that can help us achieve a vision of world health transformed through breastfeeding and skilled lactation care.

To this end, the ILCA Board of Directors is urging each voting member to carefully consider the merits of each bylaws change proposals and make your voice be heard. We also heard you call for a more robust discussion of the issues. We are grateful to everyone who has spoken up about these issues so far. Your comments have shown your deep commitment to your profession and your desire to be active, not passive, members of your professional organization.  To those who have surfaced questions and points of view, you have been heard. To those who have yet to express your opinions, the ILCA Board of Directors stands ready to hear you as well.

Editor’s note: your comments matter! Have questions about the proposed bylaws change? Please post them below. 


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!]


ILCA Announces 2014 Board of Directors Election Results

ILCAThe International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) Board of Directors is pleased to announce the results of the first of two 2014 ballots for the election of three incoming Directors.


Director of Global Outreach:
Michele Griswold MPH, RN, IBCLC

Director of Professional Development:
Kathie Marinelli MD, IBCLC, FABM

These directors will be installed at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of members, to be held 25 July 2014 at the annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.  Note that ILCA Secretary Lisa Mandell, MBA, IBCLC will also be commencing her second three-year term at the same time, having been invited earlier to a second term by the Board of Directors.

We are thrilled that Al, Kathie and Michelle will be adding their considerable leadership expertise and IBCLC advocacy and clinical skills to ILCA’s Board, and that Lisa will continue to fill her vital role as Secretary!

The winner of the JHL Best Article Award, which was voted upon at the same time, will be announced at the AGM.

The second 2014 ILCA election of an incoming Director commences 1 June 2014. ILCA members will have an opportunity to vote again in a few weeks, to elect one additional board member.  The Director of Marketing post will soon be vacated when current Director Decalie Brown RN, CM, IBCLC, CFHN, BHMtg, JP assumes a two-year post as ILCA President.

In the upcoming ballot, we will also be asking the current voting members of ILCA to vote to accept by-laws changes which have been passed and recommended for implementation by the full Board.

Look for additional information, coming soon, describing these important changes to our governance structure and the final election to fill seats on the ILCA Board of Directors.

The ILCA Board would like to thank each of you for your continued support and encourage you to become involved in ILCA’s committees and other volunteer opportunities. To find out more, please visit our website at And, please invite your colleagues to join us at the upcoming 2014 annual ILCA conference in Phoenix, Arizona USA, 2326 July 2014.



Introducing Decalie Brown, ILCA’s Incoming President

DSC03591We are proud to have the opportunity to introduce you to Decalie Brown, who will be assuming the role of Board President at the annual general meeting (AGM) in July at our annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Decalie has been an active member of the International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) Board of Directors since 2009 and has served as Director of Marketing. Decalie is also a registered nurse/midwife with 33 years of experience serving the families in her community. She is currently working as a nurse specialist in Community Health, visiting parents and babies in their homes and at clinics in the Blue Mountains of Australia, supporting complex issues. She extensively supports health professionals and parents with education of lactation, infant feeding and transitioning to new parenthood.

We recently interviewed Decalie to find out a bit more about her career and her visions for the future of ILCA:

What Called You to Be an IBCLC?

My first baby was a preterm infant after a Grade 3 Placenta Praevia and I was determined that she would only have breastmilk for the first 6 months. We struggled but met our goal. My second child was very different and breastfed with very little trouble and I was convinced that breastfeeding was the best thing I could ever do for my babies. To watch your child grow and develop because of the gift I gave was simply amazing.

I wanted to share with others the unique experiences I had as a breastfeeding mother. I knew the difficulties and also knew the rewards. I never realized how amazing it was until I experienced it, not once but twice.

As a midwife and a practical Child & Family Health Nurse, I loved everything about breastfeeding and wanted to know more about both the science and the art of lactation. Determined, I read and studied anything I could get my hands on that related to breastfeeding and lactation. My passion become a reality and I became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in 2001.

Today, I truly have the best job. I work as a nurse specialist in Community Health, visiting parents and babies in their homes and clinics. Every day, I have an opportunity to learn something new and make a difference in the lives of  babies and their families. It’s a privilege to be assisting parents as they achieve their parenting goals as well as navigating their own breastfeeding/infant feeding journey. For them, there is only one baby in the world that matters . . . their own.

How Did You Get Involved With ILCA?

I was first involved with ILCA at the 2006 Philadelphia conference where I ambitiously submitted a poster and volunteered for the organization for the first time. What a thrill it was to move among the lactation legends! A highlight of that time was a tour to the local Primary Health Center and a chat I had on the bus ride home with Dr. Ruth Lawrence!

I remember being so excited to be there among so many great speakers. I had read their books and their research and heard them speak but never met them in person. I seized many moments that conference and asked if I could capture the memory with a quick photo. I cherish these photos today.

As I continued to volunteer for ILCA, I was invited to attend the Strategic Planning sessions in March 2008 in Las Vegas (of all places!). Wow! What a thrill and opportunity of a lifetime to sit in the same room as the whole ILCA and International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®) Board of Directors and it was a privilege for me, as someone who just happened to have a passion for the  lactation world and was now able to have input into their major strategic planning sessions.

After gaining confidence as a Director on the Board of the Australian Lactation Consultants Association (before Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ) was formed) for 2 years, I became the ILCA Director of Marketing in 2009. The rest is history!

As the Incoming President, What Are Your Priorities in the First Year of Your Presidency?

  • To listen carefully at the 2014 Summit Addressing Inequities within the Lactation Consultant Profession and collaborate on the recommended steps to reduce barriers of entry into our profession and increase access to our services.

  • To advance the recognition of the IBCLC credential and profession. Providing skilled lactation care is a critical part of transforming world public health.

  • To continue refining and improving ILCA’s internal governance, based on transparency, accountability and strategic financial planning.

What Do You See as ILCA’s Primary Goals for Your Term?

  • To continue being THE best resource for education and professional development opportunities for IBCLCs, and those who support the ILCA vision and mission. We will also focus on expanding the educational opportunities offered to our members.

  • To develop and expand the relationships with our affiliate organizations globally.

  • To actively update and revise ILCA’s Strategic Plan,  a “living document” that is adjusted to changes in priority, member needs, and fiscal opportunity.

  • To expand ILCA’s presence, outreach, and voice through social media and online channels.

  • To increase ILCA’s  membership, especially in countries and populations under-represented in the past.

  • To expand ILCA’s impact as a global leader in international public health and policy-setting activities.

  • To increase opportunities for research and analysis of research, especially through ILCA outlets.

  • Have a party to celebrate 30 years of ILCA as a strong advocate for our profession!

Do you have additional questions for Decalie?

Please leave a comment and we’ll be glad to post her answers.




What’s In It For You at Your Professional Association? A Letter from ILCA President Liz Brooks

7220_159273157696_4699634_nIBCLCs are the essential credential for lactation support.
IBCLCs empower mothers and save babies’ lives.

Happy New Year, from the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) Board of Directors!

We close out 2012, a year when ILCA took on a heightened advocacy role, on your behalf, for the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) credential and profession. Looking toward 2013, ILCA will continue this important work on a macro level, while offering to members the resources you will need to advocate and protect the profession — and your jobs — on a micro level. ILCA is the international professional association for IBCLCs and others who support our vision, mission and strategic plan.

IBCLC advocacy: If not us, who? If not now, when?

Some of ILCA’s recent efforts to promote and protect the work of IBCLCs:

Joint Stakeholder LetterIn a first-ever communication of its kind, ILCA joined with the certifying board (the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, IBLCE) and the education/accreditation organization (Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee, LEAARC) to send a co-signed letter to nearly 100 stakeholder-organizations and policy-makers, worldwide, describing why the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is the essential credential for lactation support. This “macro” letter is available on the ILCA website for you to download, and distribute (along with the ILCA Position Paper on the Role and Impact of the IBCLC) in your “micro” professional community.

Social Media Leadership: ILCA’s Lactation Matters blog, just 18 months old, has proven the power and reach of global, on-line conversations. There have been 145,000 page views, from 174 countries, of our thought-provoking articles from dozens of invited authors. It doesn’t get more international than that. An example: The blog about acceptance of Nestle funds by World Health Organization (WHO) partner Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) spawned — within one week — an international on-line petition, garnering nearly 2,000 signatures, urging PAHO to return the funds … an example of the power of grassroots advocacy through social media. The ILCA Facebook Page has nearly 6,500 “likes,” which is MORE than our membership of 6,000 people in 85 countries! We also have a Twitter feed with over 1,500 followers.

Even if you prefer to keep up with ILCA news the traditional way (through your Association News column in JHL, the eGlobe on-line newsletter and the ILCA website), it is important to know that these newer forms of outreach expand ILCA’s presence and influence to an audience that may never otherwise have interacted with us.

Journal of Human Lactation (JHL): Have you noticed how hefty your print publication is lately, when it arrives in the mail? Under Editor Anne Merewood’s leadership, the submission rates to our highly-esteemed research journal have skyrocketed in the past year. The JHL impact factor continues to rise to remarkable levels for a specialized journal of its size. Theme-focused issues are being produced, and under consideration is the expansion to six issues a year. Are you aware JHL has free podcasts you can download, with short, intriguing interviews of article authors? Don’t miss out on the JHL Facebook Page!

Financial Strength of ILCA

ILCA continues to re-build its financial reserves, while meeting a tightly-honed budget designed to provide high-value for your membership dollars. About 85% of ILCA members are automatically “bundled” into membership with their the National/Multi-National (NMN) Affiliate (Canadian Lactation Consultant Association (CLCA), Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ), and United States Lactation Consultant Association (USLCA)) , providing resources geared for specific geopolitical regions. 2013 will bring a re-energized articulation of the ILCA-NMN Affiliate relationship, using a “collective impact” model (or collaborative effort, to meet shared goals), under the experienced leadership of our recently-installed Executive Director Richard Padlo.

Professional Development and Education

Have you participated in one of ILCA’s FREE on-line webinars? Well over 1,000 people around the world, from over 38 countries, have listened to ILCA webinars offered in French, Spanish, German, and English. For those who need continuing education units, these webinars (and dozens of other on-line study module offerings) can be purchased, allowing Continuing Education Recognition Points (CERPs) to be awarded, through our ILCA CERPs onDemand portal. 

As valuable as on-line learning is, nothing can compare with ILCA’s world-famous international conference. It is the only way to network face-to-face, and learn from, 1,000+ of your colleagues in lactation. This year’s conference in Melbourne, Australia (25-28 July 2013) will provide unparalleled education, professional development, and cultural enrichment.

Resources in Several Languages…And a Chance to Invest in Yourself

ILCA members can now access over 150 resources in ten languages (some as free downloads; some for purchase in our on-line ILCA Store), including:

ILCA is seeking to expand its multi-language offerings, guided by the Multi-Lingual Committee, with members speaking 14 different languages. Consider joining this, or any of ILCA’s 15 other committees and panels. This volunteer work will enhance your leadership skills, build your curriculum vitae, and provide unequalled access to thought leaders in our profession. Your commitment of time, talent or treasure benefits you, benefits your colleagues, and strengthens our collective voice as ILCA.

International Activities

ILCA has the coveted non-governmental organization (NGO) status with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, and we look forward to continued opportunities to collaborate on public health policy-making. As one of five Core Partners with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), ILCA works to promote and protect breastfeeding worldwide, and is pleased to co-sponsor the highly-esteemed annual Chris Mulford WABA ILCA Fellowship to support advocacy at WABA headquarters in Malaysia. ILCA liaisons at WHO, WABA (in addition to the Fellow), on our United Nations Breastfeeding Action Team, at the WHO National BFHI Coordinators Meetings and at Codex Alimentarius continue their work with breastfeeding protection, promotion, and support at the highest levels of public health policy-making.


ILCA continues its commitment to providing funding, and publishing outlets, for evidence based research and writing about IBCLC practice. At the apex is our exemplary Journal of Human Lactation, a peer-reviewed journal with original research, case reports, commentaries and the popular Inside Track columns. ILCA research grants, oral presentations and poster displays (at the conference) provide members an opportunity to conduct research and exhibit their work.

What Else?

Membership in ILCA is about an investment in yourself — at the “micro” level — so that you become a part of something much larger — at the “macro” level. Visit our website to learn how you may:

IBCLC advocacy: If not us, who? If not now, when?

We look forward to having you as part of the ILCA team. Happy New Year, and remember … ILCA is YOU!


A Response from Liz Brooks: Reaffirming the Mission and Vision of ILCA

By Liz Brooks, JD, IBCLC, ILCA President

“The IBCLC is the globally recognized professional authority in lactation.”

7220_159273157696_4699634_nThere it is … the Vision Statement for the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA). As the President of ILCA and an IBCLC in private practice, I am proud of this important strategic objective by my professional association.

So imagine my consternation to read an e-mail from one of ILCA’s members, who expressed concern about the Joint Stakeholder Letter recently sent worldwide as part of a multi-organizational effort to promote the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) credential and profession. Her primary concern: a message that IBCLCs are trying to keep other breastfeeding helpers from providing care to lactating women.

Oh, dear, I thought. That isn’t ILCA’s goal at all! How could our vision be misconstrued? Yet, it is not the first time I have heard about confusion over ILCA’s efforts to market the IBCLC credential.

So let me take a stab at explaining the motivation behind ILCA’s Vision and Mission, and the sending of the “Joint Stakeholder Letter” by ILCA (and co-signed by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiers, IBLCE, our certifying arm, and the Lactation Education Accreditation and Approval Review Committee, LEAARC, the organization promoting excellence in lactation education and curricula).

ILCA, IBLCE and LEAARC have never espoused the notion that only IBCLCs are able to provide support to breastfeeding families. Most mothers in the world do not even need the special skill and expertise that an IBCLC can bring to bear! Indeed, in a perfect world, every woman giving birth would be surrounded by female relatives, friends and neighbors — all of whom had happily and successfully breastfed their own children. Mother-to-mother connections have been going on since the dawn of time, and the simple feat of “learning by watching” and “teaching by doing” is the quintessential practice of breastfeeding support.

We are fortunate that modern medicine has allowed families — who otherwise would not have conceived or been able to fully lactate — to be able to bear children, and boost milk supply. Premature and sick babies are going home from the neonatal intensive care unit, to live full and fruitful lives. On the flip side, in our modern day world, women of child-bearing age (who comprise the greatest segment of the working population) often are not able to be with their breastfeeding children around-the-clock.

Situations such as these create tremendous challenges for lactating women. The demand for a specialty in the allied health care field was borne precisely from the recognition (by La Leche League Leaders) that some breastfeeding mothers need more than the loving, compassionate support of friends, relatives, and mother-to-mother counselors. And they recognized that primary healthcare providers (such as pediatricians, midwives and gynecologists) were not getting training or clinical rotation in lactation support during their own education.

The IBCLC is the only international credential in breastfeeding and human lactation, awarded by an independently-accredited organization. Those with the IBCLC credential are members of the health care team, who can help (and advocate for) mothers and babies with those higher-order challenges. It is a stand-alone credential, and the requirements for it to be awarded are substantial.

Distinguishing the IBCLC from other kinds of breastfeeding support is necessary, because we also know that there is tremendous confusion (by mothers, hospital administrators, and public health regulators) about “Who Is Who” in the field of lactation support. I just typed “get help sore nipples” into Google, and got 1,070,000 results. Options included sites for nipple creams and products, anonymous chat rooms, websites by medical professionals, websites by mother-to-mother groups, makers of baby products, etc. Imagine being the tired, sore, weepy mother, typing that phrase into her laptop at 3AM. Which site should she visit? What do all those initials mean?

Thus, ILCA (IBLCE and LEAARC) identified the need for promotion of the IBCLC credential and profession. Not to the exclusion of other kinds of helpers … but as the well-understood, stand-alone allied healthcare professional credential that it is. No one group of breastfeeding helpers (doctors, midwives, IBCLCs, peer counselors, mother-to-mother counselors, those who’ve acquired specialized short-term educational training) can “corner the market” on helping mothers. That is impossible. Does anyone think breastfeeding mothers have too much help and support?

But a corollary concept is: Each kind of breastfeeding support should be well and honestly marketed to the public — to the mothers, employers, hospital administrators and public health decision-makers who seek varying levels of expertise.

Every mother, everywhere, deserves to know what went into the education and training of the person who stands before her, offering support for breastfeeding.

For ILCA, marketing the IBCLC credential and profession is the cornerstone of its Strategic Plan, Vision and Mission. For ILCA, marketing our position paper The Role and Impact of the IBCLC is one way of making sure that mothers who need an IBCLC will recognize when they are getting an IBCLC. The Joint Stakeholder Letter — first proposed in March 2011 — is an effort by all three organizations who work on behalf of our profession (ILCA, the professional association; IBLCE, the credentialing arm; LEAARC, the education component) to jointly and publicly promote the IBCLC credential.

Perhaps to close I will state the obvious: Breastfeeding is the mammalian norm and our biologic imperative … which means the true breastfeeding “authorities” are mothers and their children! When expert help and advocacy is called for … when breastfeeding issues are morphing from mothering questions into healthcare concerns … then “The IBCLC is the globally recognized professional authority in lactation.” To quote U. S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, “Everyone can help make breastfeeding easier,” to create a supportive environment for mothers, babies and families.


Thank You, Cathy Carothers!

As the 2012 ILCA Conference has come to a close, one of the things that was expressed time and time again was the gratitude towards our leadership for bringing the advocacy fo breastfeeding and especially the IBCLC profession into this exciting era of breastfeeding promotion. Cathy Carothers has served as our president during this time and, as she passes the gavel to Liz Brooks, we want to take a moment to express our thanks to Cathy for her term as President of ILCA.

We caught up with Cathy during the conference and here’s what she had to say about her service:

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

That’s an interesting story!  My professional background is in the field of marketing/public relations, and I got excited about the lactation “profession” when a WIC nutritionist asked me to consider becoming a peer counselor when I was pregnant with my 5th child.  I had loved breastfeeding and believed in it passionately, and once I became a peer counselor helping mothers and babies, I was convinced, in my naiveté, that I wanted to someday save the world for breastfeeding families.  I set my sights on becoming an IBCLC and immediately joined ILCA back in the early 1990’s.  But it wasn’t until someone on the ILCA Board asked me to consider running for a board position (the new position of Director of Marketing in 2003) that I realized I had gifts that could contribute to my professional association, as well.  And what an incredible ride it has been!  If only I had known how rewarding service to ILCA could be, I would have gotten involved much sooner!

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

Without question, my most fulfilling accomplishment as President of ILCA was watching ILCA’s  most comprehensive and bold strategic plan ever unfold (Editor’s Note: Look for an upcoming blog post about this exciting plan!).  But it wasn’t MY accomplishment at all…it was based on the constructive suggestions of over a thousand ILCA members and global stakeholders who took the time to tell us what matters most to them, and a group of smart, passionate board members who weren’t afraid to say YES to our most important calling: to promote the IBCLC credential.  The challenges over the years have been so minimal they’re hardly worth mentioning…keeping monthly calls to an hour when everyone is so excited about the incredible momentum building, keeping time zones straight when working with an international board, and remembering to bring chocolate for meetings.

Cathy and her husband, Davis.

When I look into my ILCA crystal ball, I see an incredible vision of IBCLCs in every hospital and birthing facility, valued and respected for the expertise they provide.  I see universities with quality lactation programs integrated into their curricula, and global policy makers relying on IBCLCs in  international forums.  I see IBCLCs who are connected and confident as skilled professionals, and mentoring the next generation of IBCLCs.  I see an explosion of lactation research that not only forms our foundation of evidence-based practice, but is accessible and USED by all health professionals and policy makers.  I see professional education available in languages that people speak and accessible to the far corners of the world.  And I see that EVERY ILCA member is a part of that vision.  Can I just say it?  ILCA truly IS YOU!

Cathy, we thank you and appreciate the leadership you have provided!


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