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LLLI Conference Questions and Answers

Mary Hurt
2001 Conference Team
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 36 No. 4, August-September 2000, pp. 83-4

Why does La Leche League International host an LLLI Conference every two years?

An LLLI Conference has many purposes. First and foremost it is a chance for parents and health care professionals from around the world to come together in celebration of their role in helping mothers to breastfeed their babies. It is an opportunity to experience the cultural diversity of La Leche League and to see the global impact of helping mothers to breastfeed their babies. An LLLI Conference is also the place where breastfeeding advocates outside of LLL can come to learn about LLLI and how we can help each other in the common goal of helping more mothers breastfeed their babies.

An LLLI Conference features cutting-edge information on breastfeeding, nutrition, and parenting along with continuing education credits for board certified lactation consultants, registered dietitians, and registered nurses. The LLLI Conference is also a vehicle that helps publicize La Leche League and breastfeeding. Many national and international articles about breastfeeding and other publicity resulting from the Conference have helped bring La Leche League and the services it offers into public awareness. LLL Leaders are given press releases they can use in their hometown papers, and this helps them to publicize their meetings to further our common goal of helping mothers to breastfeed their babies.

Since LLLI speakers are experts from around the world, LLLI Conferences also help La Leche League reach influential health professionals and other experts who in turn come in contact with more mothers and babies. Most speakers come away from LLLI Conferences with not only a new appreciation for the importance of breastfeeding, but also with an admiration and respect for the professionalism and depth of La Leche League. In numerous ways, LLLI Conferences help make visible our commitment to mothering through breastfeeding.

What criteria are used to select a site for the LLLI Conference?

Since LLLI Conference attendees come from the four corners of the globe, one of the first criteria considered in Conference site selection is whether there is easy access from a truly international airport with many direct flights from around the world. The Conference hotel itself must be large enough to hold 3500-4000 people under one roof with enough session rooms to accommodate the great variety of sessions at an LLLI Conference. Experience has shown that the comfort and convenience of mothers and babies is of utmost importance and holding sessions under one roof makes it more convenient than trying to maneuver across busy streets or deal with inclement weather in between sessions.

Since many parents and health professionals combine an LLLI Conference with a family vacation, LLLI Conferences are held in various locations that take into consideration opportunities for family vacations. Nearby attractions that appeal to families are considered important when choosing a site. It is also ideal if the conference can be held in various regions so Leaders and members who prefer not to travel far have an opportunity to attend a conference closer to home. In addition, the facility's willingness to offer attractive room rates to the attendees helps with the final decision. Finally, while it has always been the dream of the LLLI Conference Team to host an LLLI Conference outside of North America, there are a myriad of factors, such as custom charges and taxes, that make this dream unaffordable at the present time. There are fewer than two dozen sites in North America that meet all the criteria; as a result many interesting locations cannot be considered.

Who chooses the LLLI Conference locations?

The Conference Team which is made up of Leaders, LLLI staff members, and volunteers investigates possible conference sites. Carol Kolar, LLLI Director of Education, Leader, and Certified Meeting Professional, heads the team. After several locations are deemed suitable, Carol begins contract negotiations. When she is satisfied with the contract proposals the hotels are willing to offer, she takes them to the Board of Directors who make the final decision about the conference location.

Why have some recent "international" Conferences been held on July 4 weekend, the USA Independence Day?

One of the objectives of the Conference Team is keeping costs down for attendees. Since the July 4 weekend is one in which a large number of US citizens have family picnics, reunions, parades, firework displays, etc., room rates can be offered over the Fourth of July weekend that are less expensive than at any other time of the year. Since good rates were available at another time for this LLLI Conference, the upcoming LLLl Conference will be held July 7-10, 2001.

Why is there a fee for spouses to use the playroom, visit exhibits, and the bookstore?

Almost every professional Conference charges a spousal fee, even if the only benefit received from the spousal fee is admittance to a spousal lounge. Usually if a spouse wants to attend conference sessions, the fee is the same as the fee for the primary registrant. At an LLLI Conference, a spouse can attend sessions. The LLLI Conference team makes every effort to keep this expense low. However, the LLLI Conference incurs additional security expenses because of its unique character as a conference attended by families. Safety is a primary concern and extra security is necessary but also costly. An extra identifying badge alone costs $15 for the registration company to process.

Naturally, children of all ages are welcome at every session and event at La Leche League International Conferences, but there are also special places and activities for children. Toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children are thrilled to visit the Playroom which is a special place filled with toys, games, and art activities. Children aged 6 through 18 can join the fun at daily Chance-to-Dance sessions. Teens love to meet with one another at the Teen lounge. These are all part of the fun of LLLI Conferences but they also require additional security, equipment, and decorating-all additional expenses.

Why are meals included in the cost of registration?

Negotiating a contract for a conference facility involves many factors. Making a commitment to purchase a certain number of meals helps us provide better rates for sleeping rooms and meeting space. Because luncheons are included as part of the package, you pay much less for your hotel rooms. It also saves conference participants the time and trouble involved in finding a place to eat during a short lunch break. The contract is negotiated so that you, the attendee, will benefit from the best possible rates.

Leaders and other health professionals from around the globe suggest conference speakers. Once a speaker is suggested to the team, as much as possible is found out about the speaker - books are read and, when possible, tapes are evaluated. Before a speaker is contacted several questions are asked. Does the speaker offer something new in the areas of breastfeeding, nutrition, parenting, and other topics of interest to Conference attendees? Is the speaker knowledgeable and interesting? Can the speaker meet the challenge of speaking to a diverse audience with many babies and toddlers in attendance? If the speaker will be addressing a Continuing Education Session other professional criteria must also be met.

Potential Conference speakers are contacted after meeting these criteria. Some are unable to attend because they limit speaking engagements. Some are already scheduled for the Conference time. Some are too expensive for our speakers' budget either because they always demand a large honorarium or because the cost of bringing them to the LLLI Conference is prohibitive. In the end, La Leche League International Conferences offer an outstanding selection of world-renowned speakers on a variety of cutting-edge topics.

What is special about the LLLI Conference?

Almost everyone who attends an LLLI Conference gives it rave reviews. This is due to outstanding speakers, family fun, and the chance to soak up an LLL atmosphere for three days. It is always affirming and elevating.

The Exhibit Hall offers an outstanding display of products and services of particular interest to LLL families. There is everything from beautiful fashions to health care products. It's a fun way to collect ideas and samples of a variety of products.

The Bookstore features the latest information on parenting, breastfeeding and nutrition as well as souvenirs for those at home and those who came along. Autograph parties offer the chance to have books personally inscribed by world-renowned authors.

Poster sessions give many a chance to highlight the work they are doing with breastfeeding and give others a chance to see what's being done in support of breastfeeding all over the world. Global sessions and multi-language learning clusters, take us around the world of breastfeeding in three days.

A Kaleidoscope of the World provides us another opportunity to go around the world, but this time in one three-hour tour. Children and others who enjoy fun have their "passports" stamped at international booths which have items for display and items for sale. Many families bring along an extra bag to carry home their purchases from this world bazaar. Some Groups sell items from around the world in order to help pay for their Conference expenses.

Finally, be sure to come to the Technology Room where the LLLI Conference is shared with the world. Help your virtual friends become your real friends as you gather to meet others you have met through LLL online. Come to see the technology; stay for the camaraderie.

Should I attend an LLLI Conference if l am no longer breastfeeding?

Many people who attend an LLLI Conference are no longer breastfeeding. Leaders, Alumnae, and health professionals are among the group who come to LLLI Conferences. While there are, of course, sessions on breastfeeding and parenting at LLLI Conferences, there are also a multitude of sessions on other issues, from organization and time management to caring for your aging parents, from new health options to communication skills.

Join us for a "Kaleidoscope of Families, Friends, and Cultures" at LLLI's 17th International Conference to be held July 7-10, 2001 at Chicago Hilton and Towers, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Flash: Since 2001 is the "Year of the Volunteer;" special surprises will be in store for all Leaders accredited on or after July 7, 1999.

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