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Honoring the Founders and LLLI

Rebecca Magalhães
LLLI Director of Advocacy and External Relations
Judy Torgus
River Grove IL USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 44, No. 1, 2008, pp. 12-13

As part of the La Leche League International 50th Anniversary Cele-bration, two groups of volunteers came together to plan activities to showcase the hard work of LLLI.

One group, the 50th Anniversary Committee headed by Judy Torgus, planned two major events -- the Anniversary Picnic and the Gala Anniversary Dinner. The other group of volunteers, coordinated by Paulina Smith, worked to contact various individuals, groups, foundations, corporations, government agencies, and organizations to request that the LLLI Founders be given official recognition in honor of this milestone.

This work group also searched for awards or other types of recognition that would be appropriate to celebrate the Founders’ achievements and commitment. They submitted proposals for awards or prizes that focused on volunteer work that improved the health of mothers and babies. The work group submitted three proposals for awards and worked with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) as they submitted an application for LLLI for the Gates Award. As a result of the efforts of this work group, the Founders and LLLI were honored and commended in a variety of ways.

The earliest award in honor of the 50th Anniversary was presented by the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) at their conference in July 2005. A plaque was presented to Marian Tompson, who gave the Keynote Address at that conference.

In August 2006 at the Anniversary Picnic in Wilder Park (Elmhurst, Illinois, USA), the seven Founders received a number of awards and letters of special recognition. The Mayor of Elmhurst attended the picnic and declared the day as La Leche League Recognition Day in Elmhurst. It was also announced that three new maple trees would be planted to commemorate the LLLI 50th Anniversary. The trees were funded by LLL of Illinois, LLLI current and former staff, and the Lou Boyes Family. A fourth tree was dedicated specifically to Marian Tompson as a gift from her family.

At the Gala Anniversary Dinner in October 2006, held in Lisle, Illinois, USA, the seven Founders enjoyed an evening surrounded by family and friends. Several plaques, awards, and congratulatory letters were presented and displayed along with LLLI memorabilia. Included in the dinner program were the biographies of each Founder, an activity that had been coordinated by Paulina with the help of her group. A special feature that evening was the showing of an interview with Marian Tompson, Mary White, and Edwina Froehlich that had been filmed for a local TV program, "Chicago Tonight" in honor of the 50th Anniversary. (The streaming video can be seen for a limited time at

The next special event for the Founders was an Opera Gala in March 2007, sponsored by Health for Humanity (a nonprofit organization based in the Chicago area that encourages healthy practices worldwide by supporting local volunteer efforts). The Founders were honored with recognition of their vision, courage, and commitment. Edwina Froehlich, Marian Tompson, and Viola Lennon attended and accepted their plaques. Barbara Emanuel, the LLLI interim Executive Director at that time, also attended the dinner and accepted the crystal globe that was presented to the organization. Other LLLI staff and Leaders were in attendance to support the Founders as they received this distinctive honor.

In July 2007, the Chicago Community Midwives sponsored a special dinner to honor the Founders and presented each Founder with a framed copy of the proclamation from the Governor of the state of Illinois proclaiming the week of July 16-23 as La Leche League Week in Illinois. Sarah Simmons of the Chicago Community Midwives was instrumental in soliciting this proclamation from the governor and in coordinating the dinner. A few days later at the LLLI 50th Anniversary Conference, a Gala Awards Night event was held to bestow and receive the many awards that were given to the Founders and others.

LLLI thanks all those who worked on making the 50th Anniversary a special celebration for the organization and for the seven Founders. Special thanks also go to all the LLL Groups around the world that coordinated and implemented special activities in honor of the LLLI 50th Anniversary. Fifty-one years and counting!

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