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Why All These Letters?

Kathryn Holly
York, Maine, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 35 No. 3, June-July 1999, p. 56

A Leader may wonder why a Leader Applicant receives and responds to several letters from the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) representative. The dialogue portion of an application is an important aspect of Leader preparation, offering the Leader Applicant an opportunity to work closely with the LAD representative as she explores and prepares for accreditation as a La Leche League Leader.

The responsibility of the LAD is twofold: "to determine that an individual's ideas and experience recommend her for La Leche League leadership and to help an Applicant to prepare for her future role as an LLL Leader" (LLLI LAD Resources, 1992; 8).

During the application, dialogue can be defined as a conversation taking place on paper. It builds on the Leader Applicant's Personal History. Dialogue helps to clarify ways in which a Leader Applicant's experience and personal philosophy reflect LLL recommendations and philosophy and how she can translate that into facilitating and providing mother-to-mother help. The Associate Coordinator of Leader Accreditation (A/CLA) may dialogue with the Leader Applicant to obtain or provide additional information and to relate to the Leader's role the thoughts and attitudes the Leader Applicant has already expressed. Dialogue letters provide opportunities to discuss ways of communicating LLL information and philosophy while respecting individual differences.

According to LAD Resources, "The goal of the LAD is to accredit Leaders who have the experience, knowledge, and skills they will need to do their job with confidence and pleasure." This goal goes beyond giving a “stamp of approval” to a Leader Applicant. The Leader and LAD representative strive to guide the Leader Applicant's orientation to leadership. We explore and explain LLLI philosophy, relate the Applicant's knowledge and experience to how she will help other mothers as an LLL Leader, and describe LLLI structure, LLL policies, procedures and resources. Together, we help ensure that the Leader Applicant has or will develop knowledge about breastfeeding management, child development and parenting, as well as Leader skills in areas of problem solving, group dynamics, facilitating discussion and critical reading. See the checklist in the LEADER’S HANDBOOK, 1998 edition, (pages 243- 44) and the Breastfeeding Resource Guide for detailed lists.

During the dialogue portion of an application, the LAD representative also invites the Leader Applicant to reflect on her goals, both for her work as an LLL Leader and for her Group. Dialogue letters help the Leader Applicant build effective communication skills as well.

The number of letters exchanged in the dialogue portion of an application is uniquely tailored to each Leader Applicant. These letters respond to what she has written in the Personal History, include discussion topics the Leader and Leader Applicant have suggested, and provide guidance in building the skills and knowledge base the Leader Applicant needs in order to fulfill the criteria for accreditation.

Correspondence between a Leader Applicant and a LAD representative is intended to be a positive learning experience. The Group Leader and the LAD representative work together to help guide the Leader Applicant as she prepares for the responsibilities and joys of leadership. Dialogue letters provide a special interaction between a Leader Applicant and the A/CLA that is similar to the oral dialogue between Leader and Applicant. When we understand the purpose of dialogue letters, Leader, Leader Applicant and A/CLA can work together to make the time of leadership preparation exciting and productive.

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