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JoAnne W. Scott: 2008 Scholarship Winners

Anne Andrianos, IBCLC, RN, MS
Syracuse, NY, USA
Jim Akre, BA, MPIA
Geneva, Switzerland
From: Leaven, Vol. 45 No. 1, 2009, p. 20

JoAnne Scott, who died in 2006, left a giant footprint on the heart of organized mother support. In her warm tribute to JoAnne and her exceptional 30-plus year contribution, Pam Dunne spoke of losing "a strong ambassador" whose "legacy of breastfeeding education will live on as we remember her years with La Leche League and the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners" ("Tribute to JoAnne Scott," Leaven, Jan-Feb-Mar 2007, Vol. 43 No. 1).

Indeed, JoAnne's dynamic legacy continues, thanks to her inspiring work as a La Leche League Leader for 31 years and as the founding executive director of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). In addition, the JoAnne W. Scott Scholarship Endowment gives continuing prominence to the interaction of these two key elements of her breastfeeding biography; this takes the form of financial support provided to worthy candidates from a mother-support background to enable them to prepare and sit the exam to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).

The Monetary Investment for Lactation Consultant Certification (MILCC) is responsible for administering the JWS Scholarship Fund. As Chairperson of MILCC's all-volunteer Board of Directors, I am delighted to announce the names of two outstanding women who were awarded scholarships in 2008: Ana Cristina Noguera Leite Pincho (Portugal) and María del Carmen Sortino (Argentina).

The first-person account that Ana Cristina has shared with MILCC exemplifies both her courage and strength in the face of significant challenges.

Breastfeeding [my first child] Sofia was a challenge; I had many problems. But I did breastfeed her! I considered that breastfeeding was the normal way to feed infants and that problems would be normal. At that time (1991) in Portugal, breastfeeding support groups didn't exist.

Twelve years ago, I was asked to start a mother-to-mother support group. As we were beginning our meetings two things happened: one of the mothers who knew about LLL challenged us to help breastfeeding mothers, and a doctor was initiating the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative and was looking for a support group. These events brought me into the breastfeeding support world.

We took the World Health Organization (WHO) breastfeeding management and counseling course and then started a counseling telephone line; I became a LLL Leader in 2001. Then tragedy struck when my husband died and I had to reorganize all my life. I was the only LLL Leader in Portugal and it was not easy. I stopped my LLL work for a few years, thinking it would make life easier, but I was wrong.

Because LLL opened to me a new world that I love, and I have gained experience in counseling, I thought I could become a lactation consultant to provide for my family. I am happy to tell you that I have started LLL work again! I want to promote group support, give training courses to mothers and health care providers. I want to continue volunteer work but want also to start a lactation consultant clinical practice, something that doesn't exist in Portugal.

Once again I want to tell you how grateful I am for having been chosen for the JoAnne Scott Scholarship.

(Note: Ana Christina Pincho passed the IBCLC exam.)

María del Carmen Sortino has worked for many years with impoverished women in Neuquén, the capital city of the Argentine province of the same name and the largest city (population 265,000) in Patagonia, the southernmost portion of South America. A pediatrician and the mother of five children, she works in the aptly named clinic of New Hope "where everyone works towards breastfeeding and we have achieved an 80 percent rate of full breastfeeding at six months and 50 percent for two years."

Maria serves on diverse governmental and professional breastfeeding committees. In addition to successfully lobbying the Argentine government to guarantee a seven-month maternity leave, she has addressed the National Congress on health matters. Her special interests include relactation, long-term breastfeeding and maternal anemia, and she is the author of numerous articles on lactation.

In addition to her research, teaching and writing, Maria finds time to serve as the guiding light for a traditional mother-support group and another that focuses on the needs of young women. Group members, who seek to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding, have created an energetic song-and-dance routine to teach the ways of successful breastfeeding. Maria, who leads popular celebrations during World Breastfeeding Week, is a vigorous defender of the right of women and children to breastfeed. As she describes the situation positively: "Participants are forceful despite the fact that many are single mothers, have several children, and are living in poverty and destitution."

Maria has been an IBCLC since 2003. Thanks to help provided by MILCC, the Scott family, and donors to the JWS Scholarship Fund, she was able to recertify by CERPs in 2008. "I am committed to working for all who are in need," she says.

Help make mother-support activities available everywhere. For more information about MILCC and the JWS Scholarship Fund, which is a separate endowed account, readers are invited to visit the MILCC home page They can also download an application form for a JWS Scholarship or make a contribution for this purpose.

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