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The LLLI Professional Advisory Board: Who? What? Where? And How?

Phoebe Kerness
LLLI Board of Directors
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 1, February-March 2005, pp. 22-23.

For as long as I have been a La Leche League Leader, I have been aware of the LLLI Professional Advisory Board (PAB). But, for the most part, all I knew was that it exists. Who are the members? What do they do for La Leche League? Where are they located? How can a Leader access their services? I didn’t know the answers to those questions.

The Founders of La Leche League relied on doctors Gregory White and Herbert Ratner for wisdom and guidance from the very beginning of LLL. In a sense, this was the start of the LLLI PAB. Over the years, many illustrious men and women have served on the LLLI Professional Advisory Board. Currently, a total of 53 individuals offer their services to La Leche League in their various fields of expertise.

In recent years, the LLLI PAB has been divided into the three separate Advisory Councils that serve LLL in more specific capacities. Currently, the Professional Advisory Board consists of 43 members on the Health Advisory Council (HAC), five members on the Legal Advisory Council (LAC), and five members on the Management Advisory Council (MAC). Members are chosen for their professional knowledge and experience and their understanding of the importance of the breastfeeding relationship, as well as their appreciation of LLLI as an organization that promotes and protects breastfeeding worldwide. (For more information on the selection process for the HAC, LAC, and MAC, respectively, see Appendices 29, 30, and 31 of the LLLI Policies and Standing Rules.)

The Health Advisory Council is composed of health and social science professionals who meet the highest academic and experiential standards of their respective credentialing bodies and are recognized as authorities in, and outside, their professional communities. Members act as consultants to La Leche League International regarding medical issues and research pertaining to breastfeeding and human milk. LLLI staff requests three types of help from the HAC: editorial review of medical issues in articles/books to be published by LLLI; professional opinion and/or comment on issues currently receiving public attention (particularly if outside opinions and literature vary); and the creation of official LLLI statements.

The Legal Advisory Council is composed of consultants with legal expertise in family law, civil practice, trademarks, constitutional law, medical-legal issues, liability, international law, and other areas of specialty. They are willing to respond to inquiries pro bono (at no fee) and to use their own professional resources in accessing and researching questions to provide LLLI with sound legal advice. As a group, they examine legal trends and monitor state, country, and international laws as to how they may affect individual breastfeeding families or LLLI. They also help prepare LLLI responses of a legal nature and offer legal advice regarding LLL policies as needed.

The Management Advisory Council is composed of consultants in business management, organizational development, information technology, investment, marketing and research. The MAC assists the LLLI Board of Directors and its committees, the Executive Director and other LLLI staff in defining/recommending the managerial needs and procedures for the effective functioning of the organization.

The term for LLLI Professional Advisory Board members is five years. They may be invited by the Board of Directors to serve additional terms and individuals are free to choose whether to continue or to retire. The global aspect of La Leche League is reflected in the composition of the LLLI PAB. Currently there are participants serving on the Advisory Councils from Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Throughout the world, these men and women often are featured as speakers at Area and LLLI Conferences. Some LLL Areas and Affiliates have their own Professional Advisory Boards as well. Some of them will be highlighted in future issues of Leaven.

While the Chairman and other members of the LLLI Board of Directors consult with the LLLI Professional Advisory Board from time to time, in most cases, a designated member of the La Leche League International office staff initiates consultation with members of the LLLI PAB. For example:

  • The LLLI Center for Breastfeeding Information contacts one or more members of the HAC for their opinions about the validity of newly published research or an important LLLI position statement in development;
  • The LLLI Executive Director (ED) consults with appropriate members of the LAC about copyright issues, or a particular aspect of LLLI not-for-profit status;
  • The ED confers with members of the MAC about management issues such as current standards of practice for preparing and utilizing a business plan;
  • The LLLI Publications Department staff enlists help from members of the HAC to review medically oriented publications;
  • The Public Relations Department personnel seek opinions and quotes from PAB members to add more strength to press releases.

Leaders initiate the process of accessing the opinions of the PAB when they contact their local Professional Liaison Leaders. Exact procedures may vary by Division, Area, and Affiliate. See the LLLI Leader’s Handbook or contact your local LLL Professional Liaison Leader for more information.
LLLI draws heavily from LLLI PAB experience, guidance, and opinions, but the final decision on policy and procedures is made by LLLI through the Board of Directors, consistent with our organizational philosophy.

The LLLI Board of Directors PAB Committee is always looking for recommendations for new LLLI PAB members. Position descriptions for the LLLI PAB Health Advisory Council, Legal Advisory Council, and Management Advisory Council are available from the LLLI PAB Committee, or the LLLI office upon request. Also available is the International PAB Survey for LLL Areas and Affiliates to share information about their PABs. The survey originally was conducted in 2003. Updates and new submissions are always welcome. Contact Phoebe Kerness, the current Chair of the LLLI Board PAB Committee at, 912-897-9261, or Katy Lebbing, Manager of the Center for Breastfeeding Information at klebbing at (email), 847-519-7730,Ext.245.

Note: Does your Area or Affiliate have a Professional Advisory Board, or an equivalent board of advisors? If you have not already completed the LLLI Board PAB Survey, please request a copy and submit information about your PAB for a future article in Leaven. Contact Phoebe Kerness or Katy Lebbing (see contact information above) to obtain a copy of the survey.

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