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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!


Get to Know Liz Brooks, Incoming ILCA President

Saturday’s ILCA General Meeting at the 2012 Conference welcomed Liz Brooks to her term as the ILCA President.  We caught up with Liz to get a glimpse into her history with ILCA and what motivates her to serve in this capacity.

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

I was asked.  As simple as that.

I was studying to sit the IBLCE exam in 1997 after many years as a mother-to-mother counselor with Nursing Mothers Advisory Council (NMAC). At Kay Hoover’s suggestion, I joined both ILCA, and my local affiliate Pennsylvania Resource Organization for Lactation Consultants (PRO-LC), to start networking and to acquire some of the needed hours of pre-test education.

In my early years as an IBCLC, I devoted volunteer time in leadership positions to PRO-LC (I was the newsletter editor for years, and later the board secretary).  It was a wonderful way to get to know my colleagues, get up to speed on lactation issues, and to mix-and-mingle with the greats (Kay Hoover!  Chris Mulford!  Debi Page Ferrarello!).

I presented/taught on breastfeeding, legal and ethical matters starting in 1998 … but I knew I had “hit the bigs” when my proposal to present at ILCA  2002 in Boca Raton, Florida (on conflict of interest) was accepted.  I used an overhead projector to show my “slides,” and I still have folks tell me they remember how I piled a bunch of hats on my head to open the session.

When the ILCA Board was searching for qualified candidates for the position of Secretary, I was called by the Nominations Committee Chair/Past President Maureen Fjeld to ask if I was interested in running.  Heck yeah! Secretary?  Taking minutes and tending the policy manual?  For a governance wonk like me?  I’m in!  The rest, as they say, is history.  I ran unopposed for the post, was elected in 2005, and concluded my second term (and sixth year on the ILCA Board) in July 2011.

2.  What is your highest priority for your term as president?

Marketing the credential of IBCLC.  Get to the point where any mother or healthcare institution or government official knows what that credential means, and understands it’s worth.  Individual IBCLCs, their professional association (ILCA), and the certifying organization (IBLCE), *all* have separate and distinct — but highly compatible — motives for assuring that the public knows what those five special letters “I-B-C-L-C” entail.

There is a part for everyone to play in educating mothers, healthcare professionals, public health/education officials, employers, community organizations, and policy makers about the role and impact of the IBCLC.

ILCA certainly must be a leader in the effort at the macro level: we are an international, member-based organization with 6000+ members in 85 countries around the world! ILCA can also help by developing educational and professional development tools that our individual members can use in their own work settings — at the micro level.  The truth of the matter is that there are more IBCLCs than there are ILCA members.  While ILCA exists to serve its members’ needs, an enhanced appreciation for the IBCLC profession, as a whole, is the next critical phase in its development.

3.  Why should IBCLCs get involved in ILCA?

It is the fast track for individual professional growth and development!  ILCA depends on volunteers to run *all* of the policy-related aspects of our organization, from the Board through to the Committee and Task Force structure.  Our staff  and contracted positions are paid, of course.   But members who “pull an oar” for ILCA reap personal professional development, “in the loop” access to the newest policies and research, and the satisfaction of helping shape the future of their chosen profession. Sounds like a win-win to me!

And, for just a wee bit of fun…

Liz, we look forward to your time of service to ILCA!


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