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Road Map to Accreditation

Kate Holly
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 40 No. 4, August-September 2004, pp. 88-89.

"Working Together toward La Leche League Leadership" is a flow chart (or map, if you will) depicting the voyage from being a mother interested in LLL leadership to becoming a Leader. There are many facets to the journey of becoming a Leader. From deciding to take this journey to arriving at the destination of being an accredited La Leche League Leader, there are various roads to travel. Leader Applicants, though they follow the same general route to reach their goal, may travel at different speeds and use different "vehicles" along the way.

The mother begins with an interest in LLL. She enjoys Series Meetings; she has perhaps been helped by a Leader; she devours THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, NEW BEGINNINGS, and LLLI pamphlets and tear-off sheets; she sees LLL philosophy in her mothering through breastfeeding experiences. These facets of LLL bring you and the Group member together to discuss the member’s interest in LLL leadership.

You and the Group member will meet to discuss the LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership, LLL philosophy, the work of a Leader, and the application work. The application can begin if the prerequisites have been met and it has been determined (by discussing each of the LLL 10 philosophy concepts in depth) that there are no areas of disparity between the Group member’s philosophy and LLLI philosophy. If you are unclear about whether these prerequisites have been met, this is the time to dialogue with a member of the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD).

When you are comfortable that the prerequisites to applying for LLL leadership have been met, you will complete a Leader Recommendation form, and the Group member will submit her Application form and fee. All three items will be sent to the local Coordinator of Leader Accreditation (CLA) or other LAD representative. The Group member becomes a Leader Applicant when the CLA receives these three items and confirms that the mother meets the prerequisites.

The Leader-Leader Applicant-LAD triad has been formed. The CLA or an Associate (ACLA) will write to welcome the mother, congratulating her on her decision to apply for leadership with LLL. She will send the Request for Personal History (either within her letter or as a separate page) to the Leader Applicant and will write to the Leader, congratulating her on the new Leader Applicant in her Group, offering ideas, and establishing rapport.

During the next part of this expedition, the Leader Applicant writes her personal history of breastfeeding and mothering, continues reading LLL books and others to meet the required reading criteria, may take a series of Communication Skills Enrichment sessions, completes the Breastfeeding Resource Guide (or otherwise demonstrates knowledge of the information within it), and meets with you on a regular basis to discuss the items on pp. 150-152 of the 2003 LEADER'S HANDBOOK. You, in addition to discussing the items on the checklist with the Leader Applicant, might invite her to planning meetings and will send feedback regarding the Applicant’s progress to the LAD representative.

The LAD representative will dialogue with the mother once she receives all or part of the Applicant’s personal history. She will ask questions, elaborate, and clarify LLLI philosophy, may suggest exercises (Listening Exercise or Bias Exercise, for example) or additional reading. How much dialogue and how many letters are written varies. (See "Why All These Letters?" LEAVEN, June-July 1999, p. 56, for further explanation.)

Keeping you informed, the LAD representative will continue to offer suggestions and encouragement to help with the Leader Applicant’s preparation for leadership as the Applicant continues to respond with her thoughts and reports of her work with you.

At some point, the LAD representative sends "A Preview of Mothers’ Questions/Problems and Group Dynamics/Management" (Preview) to the Leader Applicant and "Leader’s Guide to the Preview" to you. This is a tool that can be used by the Applicant to get a feel for the kinds of questions and Group situations Leaders address and gives practice in using the Leader’s printed LLL resources. When appropriate, you and the Leader Applicant will do the Preview. When you, the Applicant, and the LAD representative agree that the Applicant has met all the accreditation criteria, the LAD representative sends the Statement of Commitment for the Leader Applicant to sign and return with her accreditation fee and first year’s Leader dues. The LAD representative will notify you (and the appropriate Area personnel) and the Statement of Commitment and fee will go to LLLI.

While there are definite criteria for accreditation as an LLL Leader, the format has built-in flexibility. Leader Applicants set the pace, and their experiences during preparation for leadership are as varied as the mothers who apply to become Leaders. When the journey is complete, the new Leader has arrived at her destination—LLL leadership—with the experience, knowledge, and skills necessary to help mothers as an LLL Leader. An even more enriching expedition has begun.

Kate Holly lives in York, Maine USA with her husband, Jim. They have two daughters and three sons ranging in age from 15 to one. She was accredited in 1992 and has been leading meetings in York and working in the Leader Accreditation Department since 1993.

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