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Report from the Board:
2001 Annual Session

From: LEAVEN, Vol. 37 No. 3, June-July 2001, p. 50, 70-71

At the Annual Session of the LLLI Board of Directors in March 2001, much of the agenda was familiar from past years: budget, technical corrections to bylaws, selections, elections, and setting dates for more of these meetings. Yet this meeting had a different feeling. Perhaps this is recognition of a climate change that has been in progress for some time, but obscured by the seasons and day-to-day weather.

Through the chaordic initiative, the LLL community is exploring how our work together as a worldwide organization can be in harmony with mothering through breastfeeding and how Leaders help mothers. As we explore, it's natural for our learning to affect our attitudes and actions.

We are recognizing that the Board of Directors has evolved into a body selected by the Leaders of the organization. This participative selection affects the responsibilities of the Board to provide leadership and direction for the future of La Leche League. This Board is not separated from work on the LLLI mission - but in the midst of it. The Board is they, you, we, and I - all together part of one organization with a shared purpose.

Dates for Future Board Meetings

July 11, 2001
October 11-October 15, 2001
February 21-February 25, 2002
June 20-June 24, 2002
October 24-October 28, 2002

New Leadership

We are starting out with new executive leadership and all the fresh possibilities that new people can bring to our work of helping mothers breastfeed their babies.

As the first action of the Annual Session, the Board of Directors confirmed the hiring of Anne Gaskell as Executive Director and Tim Dosemagen as Director of Operations. The decision to hire Anne and Tim was made by the LLLI Executive Committee between Board meetings and supported by the consensus of the Board. This vote confirmed that decision as a formal action by the entire Board. The Director of Operations is a new position which will focus on functions of the registered office in Schaumburg, Illinois, USA. The work of the LLLI Executive Director addresses the broad scope of La Leche League worldwide.

Budget Approval

The Board approved a budget for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2001. Although the budget is presented as rows and columns of numbers representing targets for income and expenses, these numbers represent planned activities in support of the LLLI mission. One of the threads in the fabric of " year's budget is investment - in more expertise and software for LLLI information systems to provide the support that staff and volunteers deserve, in more services from the Center for Breastfeeding Information, in more publications:with information about breastfeeding, in more promotion of materials and services beyond the current LLLI community, in more ways to bring LLL membership to more people, and in more ways to reach potential donors with opportunities to contribute to the work of Leader Roles.

For several years, the Board has been thinking about the roles of Leaders. Beginning with the 1999 LLLI Conference, the Board invited Leaders to converse and share stories about what Leaders do as we each contribute to the purpose of La Leche League - as well as the possibilities of what we might do in our roles as Leaders. Some conversations generated lists of current activities and dreams; others did not produce such concrete results. Both styles were a part of the expectations for these inquiries.

Many conversations have included a common thread. Some Leaders feel limited in possibilities of how they can contribute to the LLLI mission-based on wording of policies about an Active Leader and the Basic Responsibilities of Leaders. Some Leaders notice these limits and push against them. Others assume these limits and take them for granted. The Steering Committee for LLLUSA brought this issue to the Board and sparked further discussion among Board members.

Each Leader has a personal commitment to mothering through breastfeeding and to work within the policies of La Leche League as she represents LLL anywhere in the world. Do we need policies that imply restrictions on the ways Leaders might contribute to the LLLI mission? How much guidance should LLL give each Leader about making choices in how she will volunteer to help mothers breastfeed?

The answers to these questions are not simple and could not be answered in one Board discussion, especially without further conversations involving the LLL community. But the Board was sufficiently moved to do more than just promise to talk about this some more. We took an initial step of adjusting the Definition of an Active Leader for a better fit with the climate change for La Leche League, as we continue to explore these ideas. The new wording reads:

An active LLL Leader pursues the La Leche League mission through basic Leader responsibilities as defined in the Policies and Standing Rules Notebook and/or other service to LLL. An active Leader'sfees are current, she keeps up to date with Leader education, and she communicates regularly with the organization.

The revised definition recognizes that Leaders can choose a variety of activities in accord with LLL policies. This change is part of continuing development of an organization-wide understanding of "LLL Leader" and possibilities for mission-related work. As part of the Program Services Committee, Nan Jolly and Carmen Vandenabeele invite Leaders to join a work group for further inquiry.

LLLI Conference

After extensive discussion about the purpose of LLLI Conferences and how these events might fit into La Leche League in future years, the Board of Directors supported selection of the Hilton Washington, Washington DC USA as the venue for an international gathering of the La Leche League community in July 2005.

The community of people touched by LLL appreciates and benefits from coming together regularly. It was prudent to book a 2005 site at this time for a number of reasons: limited number of sites that accommodate the size and requirements of our group; meeting industry practices for advanced bookings; cost effectiveness; ease of international access. Sites in a number of countries were investigated. The Hilton Washington best fulfills anticipated.needs for 2005, with flexibility for possibilities of differences in program and format from previous events.

The Bylaws Changes Committee presented a first reading of an amendment to the LLLI Bylaws. This technical modification addresses an inconsistency in the current Bylaws about whether or not the official number of Board members includes Founders actively serving on the Board. Before the Board meeting in July 2001, the Bylaws Committee will review the amendment, invite discussion, and consider whether to present the motion for a second reading at the July meeting. The amendment will be incorporated into the LLLI Bylaws if it is approved by a two-thirds Board Elections majority at the July meeting.

The Board elected seven members from the seven nominees presented by three zones on the 2001 election cycle: Canada, Europe, and United States West. The next election for these zones is scheduled for the Annual Session in 2004. Zone Canada has one vacant seat that may be filled at an interim meeting.

LLLI officers and a Member-at-Large to the LLLI Executive Comnuttee were elected to serve for the current year. The Board also elected a Nominating Committee to prepare for elections at the Annual Session in 2002. Seven seats from zones Africa/Middle East, Asia/Pacific, Eastern United States, and Latin America are included in the 2002 election cycle.

LLLI Board of Directors for 2001

Ginger Sall, Chairman
Lynne Coates, 1st Vice Chairman
Nan Jolly, 2nd Vice Chairman
Trudy Hartt, Secretary *
Jane Berendsen-Hill, Treasurer *
Betty Crase, Member-at-Large
Sandy Davis
Susan Deo
Anne Easterday *
Marcia Lutostanski *
Mimi de Maza *
Jean Moneyhon
Rachel O'Leary
Heidi BK Sloss
Carmen Vandenabeele
*member of the Nominating Committee

Five elected members retired at the end of this meeting: Cindy Smith was elected to the Board in 1994 and served as LLLI Chairman for three years. Cynthia Sherar was elected to the Board in 1997 and served as Secretary for two years. Gisèle Laviolle was elected to the Board in 1999 and continues to serve as LLLI representative to WHO and UNICEF in Geneva. Pam Barnes-Palty was elected to the Board in 1999. Anne Charest was elected to the Board in October 2000.

Founder Mary Ann Kerwin retired from active service on the Board. She continues to serve as a member of the Founders Advisory Council and also on Board committees. Founders have the privilege of deciding whether to return to active service on the Board each year.

At this meeting, members of the Board felt the tension between our beliefs about good practice in volunteer work and our personal inclinations to continue the close relationships that develop as we work together. Selection of nominees by Leaders through geographic zones and term limits for service to ensure a flow of new members contribute to a viable Board for the best interests of La Leche League. We have personally experienced the difficulties of saying good-bye to members after working together as a team - mixed with the exciting possibilities of opening our circle of work and friendship to add new members.

A few days after this Board meeting, the Board sent the actions from the meeting to the LLLI Executive Director and the Directors of Departments and Divisions, for distribution to the LLLI community. Through these communication channels, each Leader has access to the actions soon after the meeting.

Soon after this distribution, the actions were posted on the LLLI Web site at www.lalecheleague.org/llleaderweb/FIN/PSR.html#contents/ (for access with the Leader password).

An Interview with Mary Ann Kerwin: Life After Retirement

The 2001 Annual meeting of the LLLI Board of Directors was a singular one for Mary Ann Kerwin. After over 44 years of continous service on the LLLI Board, Mary Ann has retired from active participation on the Board.

She has retired from the Board, but certainly not from LLL!

Mary Ann says "LLL still flows in my blood - and always will!" When she and the other Founders started LLL in 1956, their goal was to provide mother-to-mother support for breastfeeding mothers. Mary Ann will always encourage and promote breastfeeding. Currently, in addition to being a member of the Founders' Advisory Council, she serves on the Colorado Breastfeeding Task Force.

As a member of the Founders' Advisory Counsel, Mary Ann continues to be informed of the issues, plans, and discussions in which the LLLI Board is involved. The Board continues to seek her direct input and wisdom by inviting Mary Ann to serve on Board Committees, including Bylaws, Audit, and Professional Advisory Board, and she welcomes that involvement.

Still, considering that Mary Ann continued as a Board member without pause, even while attending law school, her retirement marks a milestone. I asked Mary Ann why she made this decision now.

A number of things have converged in recent months. Mary Ann shared that she will be turning 70 in 2001, and, "Each new decade is a time to take stock of where we are in our lives." It is time, she said, to step back, relax, and enjoy her family. Not incidentally, six of Mary Ann's eight children, and seven of her eleven grandchildren are now living in Colorado! It is no surprise that Mary Ann enjoys her grandchildren and is thrilled to be more available to her grown children. "As mothers, we learn to do whatever needs to be done..." and stretch ourselves as far as need be. But while the grandchildren's mothers and fathers have the "heavy duty responsibilities," Mary Ann is happy to be able to be an active grandparent without the stress and obligations motherhood entails.

What about the LLLI Board and LLL itself? This is, after all, the first time in the League's history that a Founder has not sat on the LLLI Board, or been part of the governing body.

Mary Ann enthusiastically said she is "thrilled with the direction the organization is taking," and thinks the "chaordic initiative - directed toward improving or making a more responsive administrative infrastructure - is a great idea!" She served on the Planning Committee and eagerly voted to initiate and support the participation by LLLI in a chaordic process.

Mary Ann points out, "In the beginning, LLL had scant administrative structure; we tried to provide support to our Leaders and expressed our deep gratitude for the volunteer hours they gave in assisting us in carrying out our mission. We were chaordic in the beginning, we just didn't use that word!" She says she feels comfortable with the movement toward greater freedom and flexibility within the organization. Mary Ann affords LLL Leaders the highest possible respect. She believes freedom and trust reflect that respect.

Mary Ann, your perspective and wisdom will be missed from the LLLI boardroom. Having the privilege of serving 10 years with you on the LLLI Board, I have confidence in your vision and excitement about LLL's direction. Thank you for your many years of selfless giving, Mary Ann; thank you for continuing to be available to share your history and wisdom. May you enjoy your retirement - you have earned it!

Carole Wrede, Managing Editor

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