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Report from the Board: Board Actions

LLLI Board of Directors
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 40 No. 6, December 2004 - January 2005, pp. 139-40.

LLLI Board members have been working hard to educate ourselves and enrich our awareness of our roles and responsibilities as Board members of an international nonprofit organization (nongovernment organization). As part of this effort, our meeting theme for August was "Acting in the Best Interests of Our Organization." We made every effort to remind ourselves of these important responsibilities:

  • To be aware that the overarching goal of a nonprofit organization is to change lives by fulfilling its mission of service to its constituency. La Leche League exists to be of service to others: helping mothers breastfeed their babies and encouraging good mothering through breastfeeding.
  • To make decisions with the entire global LLLI organization in mind, not just LLL in each Director/member’s Group, Area, or country. La Leche League needs all of us: volunteers, staff, Executive Director, Board of Directors, members, and friends.

With these responsibilities in mind, the LLLI Board took the following actions on August 22, 2004, in Schaumburg, Illinois, USA. (The Board actions are in bold print.)

Audit Committee

The audit of La Leche League International finances prepared by Mann . Weitz & Associates, L.L.C., for fiscal year April 1, 2003 to March 31, 2004 was accepted.

Lenn Weitz and Janet Ferstein of the firm met with the Board and explained the audit results. They commented positively about the progress made in the business practices and financial condition of LLLI. The summary of the audited financials and accompanying narrative appear in this issue of Leaven on page 142.

Awards Committee

The LLLI Board confirmed the selection of recipients of the LLLI Awards for Achievement, Appreciation, Excellence, and Recognition.

The LLLI Awards will be presented at the 2005 LLLI Conference. Nominees for the Award for Leaders are being accepted until December 1, 2004. This Award is designed to recognize a group of Leaders for a collaborative effort that has made a significant contribution toward helping breastfeeding mothers.

Budget Subcommittee

The LLLI Board accepted the "LLLI Budget Guidelines 2005-06."

The Budget Subcommittee, in collaboration with the LLLI staff, developed these budget guidelines, which will be used as a roadmap to financial security that will help LLLI more effectively fulfill its mission.

Bylaws Committee

After careful consideration of input from our community, the Board decided not to proceed with the Second Reading of the Amendment to the Bylaws, which was proposed at the Board meeting in February 2004. (See Leaven, June-July 2004.)

The Board is mindful of our responsibility to review the organization’s bylaws and purpose on a regular basis. This is a "best practice" among nonprofit organizations.

For the past year or more we have done considerable research and held many discussions about Article II of the LLLI Bylaws: Purpose. We sought the opinions of various legal and governmental experts, both inside and outside the USA, and listened to input from Leaders and others within the LLL community. We gathered information about organizational purpose from nonprofit management publications and a number of other international nonprofit organizations.

Based on the recommendations of these experts and the information and discussions among the Board and within the LLL community, the following three Bylaws amendments were presented for first readings at the August meeting. A second reading of, and vote on, each of these Bylaws amendments is scheduled to take place at the November 2004 Board meeting. Information about the results of that vote will be available on the Board pages of the LLLI Web site at www.lalecheleague.org/ BOD/BOD.html or from any LLLI Board member.

1. That the statement, "LLLI believes that the breastfeeding relationship can stimulate the optimal physical and emotional growth of the child and the development of close family relationships" be moved in the LLLI Bylaws from the General Purpose to the Declaration of Principles.

This powerful statement belongs more appropriately in the Bylaws Declaration of Principles than in its current placement in the Bylaws General Purpose.

2. That Article II. Purpose, Section 1. General Purpose of the LLLI Bylaws be amended to read:
The purpose of LLLI is charitable, educational, and for the promotion of health:

To help the mother learn to breastfeed her baby;

To encourage good mothering through breastfeeding;

To promote a better understanding of breastfeeding and related subjects.

This is a simpler, more concise, and broader general purpose statement. It will be easier to remember and use. It also meets legal requirements for Bylaws of nonprofit organizations, such as LLLI, incorporated in the USA.

3. That the following statement be added to the LLLI Bylaws, Article II. Purpose:

Section 3: Vision Purpose

The Vision Purpose of LLLI is: To realize, deepen, and share the love and wisdom found in the breastfeeding relationship.

The vision purpose describes what we hope each mother will find in the breastfeeding relationship. It is a positive statement that builds upon our philosophy of mothering through breastfeeding. The LLLI Board recognizes the autonomous and democratic nature of our organization. LLL entities may translate these purpose statements (number 2 and number 3 above) in ways that are aligned with the LLLI purpose. These do not have to be literal translations. We are studying the Bylaws to ensure they will enable each LLL entity to interpret/translate this purpose appropriately to their laws and culture.

The Board deleted the following policies from the Policies and Standing Rules: Authors, Negotiations; Bids; Medical Associate Program Depository; Termination Policy, LLLI Staff; and Appendix 12—Termination Policy for Employed Staff.

These sections described matters of implementation, policies that are covered by the Personnel Handbook, or are in other office procedural manuals.

The Board deleted the following policies from the Policies and Standing Rules: Membership, Associate; Membership, Corporate; Membership, Friends of Breastfeeding; Membership, Professional; and Membership, Sustaining.

Entries in the Policies and Standing Rules need to be relevant to the global organization. While the deleted membership categories were created both to increase income and to promote LLLI to a wider audience, they were not meeting these goals.

The Board added the following policy to the Policies and Standing Rules: Vision Purpose: The Vision Purpose of LLLI is, "To realize, deepen, and share the love and wisdom found in the breastfeeding relationship."

As stated above, the Board considered input from Leaders and consulted various legal and governmental experts as we looked at mission statements, purpose statements, and vision statements. The LLLI Mission Statement is in the Policies and Standing Rules (PSR). We added the Vision Purpose to the PSR because we would like Leaders who choose to do so to be able to use this Vision Purpose statement in addition to the Mission Statement.

Personnel Committee

The LLLI Board revised paragraph number 11 of the Guidelines for Leaders section of Appendix 18 in the Policies and Standing Rules to read:

A mother who makes every effort to meet her baby’s needs for nurturing and nourishment at her breast and who has demonstrated awareness of and responsiveness to her baby’s needs for her presence can fulfill the Mothering Experience Prerequisites. A mother can sometimes combine commitments that take her away from her baby with an experience of mothering through breastfeeding that is consistent with LLLI philosophy.

The intent of the Guidelines is to encourage Leaders to look at a broad range of possibilities when considering the qualifications of mothers who might apply for leadership. The previous wording limited Leaders and interested mothers because it stopped the exploration of how the mother’s experience fits or does not fit with LLLI philosophy of good mothering through breastfeeding. The change in wording is an invitation to LLL Leaders worldwide to use their judgment whenever they consider sponsoring a mother for leadership. We have confidence in the Leaders in the Leader Accreditation Department to work with Leaders and mothers to identify and accredit mothers who would make great Leaders.

As the organization becomes more global and decisions are made more locally, LLL will look somewhat different in different locations. At the same time, LLL will continue to hold to its core beliefs and it will continue to grow and be enriched as mothers and Leaders worldwide live our philosophy in unique and individual ways in their own lives.

This change does not affect LLLI philosophy as found in THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING and expressed in the concept statements. No change has been made to the concept statement: "In the early years, the baby has an intense need to be with his mother which is as basic as his need for food." This new wording in the "Guidelines for Leaders" is intended to recognize in a positive manner—that is acknowledge and appreciate—that this concept, like all of LLLI philosophy, can be lived in varied ways in mothers’ lives.

This change in wording does not affect the mothering experience prerequisite itself: all the prerequisites remain unchanged. The LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership are, "written in broad terms recognizing that mothers in a variety of circumstances can and do embrace LLLI philosophy and put it into practice." As indicated in Appendix 18, the Guidelines for Leaders, "are designed to help a Leader and interested mother discuss the prerequisites and together evaluate whether or not the mother is ready to apply for leadership. A Leader’s close contact with mothers and potential Applicants, along with her knowledge, observations, and use of LLL resources, place her in a unique position to help a mother decide whether or not to apply."

The Guidelines further state that, "LLL wants to attract prospective Leaders who have or are willing to develop the knowledge, experience, and skills needed to help mothers breastfeed and gain a better understanding of mothering through breastfeeding." We are an organization that values learning. The phrase, "willing to develop," recognizes that a mother can learn from her past experiences and make different decisions if she feels they are best for her baby.

The LLLI Board believes that LLL Leaders throughout the global LLL community strive to act responsibly in doing their LLL work of helping mothers breastfeed their babies. We in LLL are mutually accountable—to each other, the organization, and the families we serve. We believe all of you wish to maintain the integrity of La Leche League and, in ways that work best for you and your community, to further its mission in the world: to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.

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