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La Leche League International
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Additions and Improvements to the LLLI Conference

Mary Hurt
LLLI Public Relations Associate
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 40 No. 4, August-September 2004, p. 84.

Every LLLI Conference evaluation form is reviewed by the entire Conference Team. Serious consideration is given to every suggestion. Keeping the best of what Conference participants enjoy and improving other facets has led the team to making changes in order to meet the diverse needs of participants. Attendees cross generations, speak various languages, and come from different disciplines. At the same time, the needs of families and children are a high priority. Many improvements have been made in the format and session schedule to accommodate requests.

For example, attendees wanted to attend World Assembly Workshops without missing Conference sessions. At the LLLI Conference in 2005, several workshops will be offered after the World Assembly and before Opening Night. The topics will include Communication Skills, working with employed mothers, public relations, breastfeeding advocacy, breastfeeding and HIV issues, and an exploration of personality types.

The Exhibit Hall Reception will also be held before Opening Night. Conference attendees will be able to discover the latest in breastfeeding and parenting items and enjoy light refreshments as well.

Two afternoon breaks have been added to the schedule on Sunday and Tuesday from 2:30-3:30 pm. Conference registrants have asked for this chance to visit the bookstore, walk through the exhibit hall, or simply take a much-needed rest.

In addition to the traditional Opening General Session the morning of July 3, 2005, we added another General Session the morning of July 5. These sessions provide the opportunity for all participants to be informed and inspired by the same presentation.

A common request on evaluations has been a reduction of the noise level at sessions. Several options for keeping the noise level down are being considered. Babies, children and even mothers and fathers are tired by the end of the day. Instead of additional sessions, evenings will feature events that lend themselves to happier children: i.e., The World Faire, The Gala Gallery Reception, and the Closing Event and Dinner. Award presentations have been moved from lunches to general sessions. Lunch will be served before the speaker presentation, thus reducing the noise level of meal service.

The ever popular World Faire will be held the second night instead of the third so that those selling goods from around the world will have the opportunity to do so earlier in the Conference. The Pizzazz Team is eagerly working on a floor plan that will make it easier to navigate as you get your "passport" stamped and walk around the LLLI world.

The Gala Gallery will replace the many separate receptions of previous Conferences. It will be an opportunity for LLLI departments, countries, and Areas to meet in one centralized place. As requested, this will allow more time to network and visit.

The Conference Closing has been moved from the afternoon to the evening of the last day. The Closing Event and Dinner will be included in all full Conference registrations.

Many past Conference attendees have said that the highlight of the Conference was meeting with the Founders of LLLI. To make this happen, not only will the seven Founders be featured at the Afternoon Tea, but they will also host a Founders’ Parlor. This area will be in an informal section of the Alumnae Room where small groups will be able to chat with one or more Founders.

Also new for this Conference will be a Fathers’ Lounge, which is the result of attendee suggestions.
Many evaluations speak to the international nature of the Conference. To help make the atmosphere friendly to those outside of the host country, many traditions will be continued.

The Alumnae will again host a welcome table for new attendees and for those who have traveled from another country. Press releases in English, French, and Spanish will again be available in the Public Relations Room. Simultaneous Interpretation will be done in Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese. This is done with headsets on different frequencies.

A room has been set aside especially for the Spanish speaking community. The Latino Room will be an enticing place for all who want to learn more about LLLI and breastfeeding in the Hispanic culture.
We received a large number of speaker recommendations and many new speakers have been scheduled to present topics. If you recommended a Speaker and you don’t see that person on the Speaker list, there can be many reasons why this happens. Sometimes, suggested speakers are too expensive, others have prior commitments, and some topics would be repetitive. However, every Speaker recommended is given consideration. We appreciate your interest and input.

The main reason people give for not attending the LLLI Conference is expense. Those who attend other professional conferences are almost always impressed by the quality and affordability of the LLLI Conference. Nevertheless, the Conference Team is intent on holding the costs down as much as possible. At this Conference, LLLI Leaders will be offered a special low registration fee, which will include the cost of the Afternoon Tea.

The Conference Team received a $15,000 (US) donation to be used to fund Leader scholarships to the LLLI Conference. In the past, scholarship expense was billed to the cost of the Conference. This will offer many more Leaders the chance to attend while keeping overall Conference costs down.

Other donations totaling $1,600 (US) will make it possible for 10 Peer Counselors to attend the Conference for one day.

Plan to attend LLLI’s Breastfeeding Conference in Washington, DC, USA July 2-5, 2005. Breastfeeding: Ancient Art-Modern Miracle.

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