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The Ripple Effect of an LLLI Conference

Mary Hurt
LLLI Public Relations Associate
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 38 No. 5, October-November 2002 p. 114-15.

Are you a Leader who has never had the opportunity to attend an LLLI Conference? While the LLLI Conference is very well-attended in comparison to other nonprofit organizations’ conferences, many Leaders may never be able to attend an LLLI Conference. If you are one of these Leaders, you might be surprised to learn that the LLLI Conference can benefit you and the work you do even if you are personally unable to attend.

An LLLI Conference has a ripple effect. Being immersed in a breastfeeding-friendly world for three entire days rekindles Leaders’ enthusiasm and dedication, and their exuberance spreads out like ripples on a lake throughout the whole organization. Attendees bring the Conference back to those who are unable to attend. When I was an LLL Group Leader, one Evaluation session and one Chapter meeting were always dedicated to reports from Conference attendees. While sharing ideas and information were important, passion for helping mothers breastfeed their babies was contagious and possibly the most valuable gift from those who were able to attend the Conference.

Conferences generate information that lasts well beyond these special few days. Audiotapes of most sessions have always been available. After the 2003 Conference, a CD with most sessions will also be sold. If you are unable to attend a Conference or if you attend the Conference and have to leave a session to tend to your baby’s needs, the information will still be available. Some Areas or Chapter Libraries buy a set of Conference Tapes to share with those unable to attend.

While not all Leaders can literally attend the Conference, Leaders with access to the Internet can virtually attend. LLLI conducts a virtual Conference through its Web site. While the Conference is in session, pictures of speakers and synopses of their talks are posted on LLLI’s Web site. Many speakers, in addition to speaking at the Conference, conduct email chats to include those unable to attend Conference sessions.

LLLI Conferences benefit LLLI even before the Conference is held. Speaker recommendations are being considered, books are being evaluated, and research is being done on current topics.

Sometimes Conference speakers write articles for New Beginnings and Leaven offering their research, ideas, and insights to those unable to attend. The LLLI team writes articles about the speakers for New Beginnings, Leaven, and the LLLI Web site to share speaker’s new ideas with everyone in LLL, not only those who attend the Conference. Because speakers’ books are sent to the LLLI Book Evaluation Committee, even if a potential speaker is unable to present at a Conference, LLLI as a whole benefits from new ideas and approaches. In addition, LLLI benefits from more books being sold during a Conference year, and many Areas find speakers for their local Conferences at the LLLI Conference.
Leaders who attend the LLLI Conference can pick up press releases in English, Spanish, and French. This facilitates publicity for their Groups and for the importance of breastfeeding. The LLLI Conference itself provides a plethora of possibilities for getting the word out about breastfeeding and La Leche League International.

The 2001 LLLI Conference in Chicago was covered by two English language television stations, one Spanish language television station, most major newspapers, and several local radio stations. A breastfeeding-friendly radio talk show hostess was our banquet speaker and her popular station ran promotional material about the benefits of breastfeeding and La Leche League for two weekends in a row. The day before the Conference, the LLLI Public Relations Director was interviewed about breastfeeding and LLL. Because of the Conference more people learn about LLL and breastfeeding.
La Leche League International speakers, who are world-renowned experts and outstanding speakers, are almost always impressed by the professional way the Conference is organized. They are amazed that families and babies can be incorporated into the audience, and they often comment at the advanced parenting skills of the parents attending. After meeting La Leche League up close and personal at a Conference, these speakers carry their favorable impression of us to other parenting and media groups around the world.

The Physicians’ Seminar is held in conjunction with the Conference. Often, speakers are shared between the two events and the Conference has an influence on physicians and other health care professionals who attend. They leave the Conference and Seminar better able to help their patients breastfeed their babies. It is estimated that each physician influences 4,000 to 6,000 mothers. When you consider many of these physicians are in practice with other physicians, the snowball effect of having health care professionals knowledgeable about breastfeeding is enormous.

The Conference also provides the setting for the International Mastery Symposium, where Leaders in various administrative positions gather for information and networking. Because the Conference is held in close conjunction with these meetings, these Divisions, Areas, and Departments enjoy rooms for their meetings at greatly reduced prices.

The World Assembly is also held in conjunction with the Conference and provides Leaders a chance to express and discuss concerns and ideas. Leaders who do not attend can have their input heard through others they know will be attending.

Peer Counselor and Peer Counselor Administration training are offered at Conferences so that more under-served populations are given access to breastfeeding information and support. Poster sessions are presented by researchers and others from around the world; the exchange of information sparks ideas and networking possibilities for the entire world of breastfeeding advocates.

LLLI Conferences attract attendees from other breastfeeding organizations. This provides a forum for LLL to interact with other players on the world breastfeeding stage. There is strength through the diversity of the organizations whose common goal is making the world more breastfeeding friendly. Every effort is made to make the LLLI Conference truly international. Experts from around the world learn about LLL first hand.

We hope you will be able to attend the LLLI Conference in San Francisco, USA. The speakers will be outstanding, the breastfeeding-friendly atmosphere will be palpable, and even the weather is anticipated to be temperate and lovely. However, if you are unable to attend, remember breastfeeding and La Leche League reap benefits from every international Conference, and you can too!

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