Board of Directors
Top row, left to right: Shevawn O’Connor, Amy Shaw, Marianne Vakiener, Johanna Rhys-Davies
Middle row, left to right: Susan Oldrieve, Laura Goodwin-Wright, Carolyn Driver-Burgess, Devorah Schesch Wernick (Shaked)
Bottom row, left to right: Ellen Mateer, Heidy Guzmán, Jennifer Iwata, Caroline Kren
Ellen lives in West Yorkshire in the UK with her partner and three children aged 18, 16, and 12. Before joining the Board, Ellen had national roles with LLLGB as Trustee, Administration Director, and Website Co-ordinator. She also served on LLL’s European Council and as an Affiliate representative which gave her a great insight into La Leche League as a global organisation.
At one of the first meetings Ellen attended, she heard the phrase “La Leche League is changing the world one baby at a time.” She has often heard this since, and it still resonates. At the time she thought it so powerful she instantly wanted to be part of this international organisation that speaks up for our rights to trust our instincts, for parents and babies to be together, and changes the world while doing so!
Outside of LLL, Ellen works with an intergenerational theatre company and enjoys walking, community gardening, cooking, and watching films with her family.
Carolyn was born and raised in New Zealand. She became a Leader in 1994, and has served in various roles within LLLNZ including Coordinator of Leader Accreditation and Administrator of Leaders. She was a member of the LLLI Board from 2011 to 2016, and has now been re-elected as the first representative occupying the newly-established LLLNZ seat on the LLLI Board.
Heidy Guzmán attended her first LLL meeting in 2007 and never left. In the Group, she received encouragement to continue breastfeeding one more month. She has been an LLL Leader since 2011 and what she enjoys the most is the monthly meetings with families.
She has been a facilitator of the Communication Skills Workshop since 2013, Secretary of LLL Guatemala and ACL to Guatemala Area, which includes four other Central American countries.
She is Guatemalan of the Garífuna ethnic group. She lives in a bilingual Spanish-French home with her husband, daughter, brother, a dog and a cat (and many snails, crickets and geckos). She is a Doula and completed her studies in law. She worked for 18 years in logistics/international trade.
In addition to her love for all that LLL provides, she is dedicated to activities for women’s health, education and economic development; respect for the worldview of indigenous peoples; and the promotion of local/organic products and a more responsible lifestyle. In her free time, she likes to bake, read and learn languages.
I have lived in the US all of my life except for a summer spent working in Finland. I was born in Alaska, raised in New Jersey, and have lived in Virginia for my adult life. I was accredited as a Leader in 1993.
Within LLL, I have been a Communication Skills Instructor, organized Area Conferences and spoken at workshops and International Conferences. I lead a Breastfeeding Cafe every Tuesday and lead Series Meetings with co-Leaders. I’ve helped train at least 30 new Leaders.
I have experience in writing, group process, fundraising, systems analysis and social justice activism.
Amy Shaw lives on an island in a small coastal community in the Boston area with her husband Chuck. Their three sons are all married, living all across the US. Amy and Chuck have five young breastfed grandchildren.
La Leche League has been a vital part of Amy’s life since the birth of her first child in 1979. She became a Leader soon after the birth of her second child in 1982, and first joined the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) following the birth of her third child in 1985. Throughout the years she has devoted her time to continuously serving LLL as an active Group Leader.
In addition to serving on numerous committees, Amy has held various LAD positions within her local Area and Area Network, and served as a member of the International LAD Council. During the ten years she served as Director of the EUS Division/LLL Alliance Area Network, she was also a part of the USA Steering Committee and Interim Council during the formation of LLL USA, as well as a Delegate on the LLL USA Council. When LLLI chose to discontinue the Helpline, Amy worked with Leaders from both US Divisions, at that time, to create the LLL Breastfeeding Helpline-US, followed by serving on the Helpline Advisory Council.
La Leche League is near and dear to Amy’s heart as it has guiding so many of her choices in life. Throughout the years of her career as a Physical Therapist, her stint doing Lighting Design, years of teaching Religious Education, serving as a Trustee and Chair of the Board of her condo association, and numerous volunteer jobs relating to her children’s schools and activities, LLL is the one thing that remained a constant. It is Amy’s intense belief that providing the best start in life through breastmilk and feeding at the breast is the greatest gift that can be given to any child. That is why her time, effort, passion, and commitment to LLL remain strong.
Shevawn taught English as a Foreign Language at the University of Pisa until her retirement in 2019 and has held English courses for children and adults over the decades. She also taught Religious Education for children for several years at her local church, loves horses and dogs, theater, cinema, sports, hiking, and reading.
Shevawn became the mother of two in Italy. Her niece, now a retired Leader, had given her The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding during her first pregnancy. Accurate information, support, emphasis on respectful communication and empowerment — it was LLLove at first sight! She became a Leader in 1993.
Serving as Area Coordinator of Leaders (ACL) for LLL Italia enabled her to become a member of the European Council from 2013 to 2016, which helped her to broaden her perspective regarding what LLL is and how LLL works. She became a member of the LLLI Board of Directors in 2016 and has served as Chair of the Inclusivity and Outreach Committee as well as member of the Bylaws, Program Services and Resource Development Committees. She thinks an important challenge that LLLI faces is to succeed in making every Leader feel that they are a part of one and the same worldwide organization.
She’s convinced that what we Leaders have in common is so much more important than our differences, and only if we focus on that will we be able to ensure that LLLI will still be here for our children and our children’s children.
Devorah was born and raised in New Jersey. She met and married her husband David in 1976. With the support of LLL New Jersey Leaders, she successfully nursed her first child despite a painful start. She made it through a required cessation of breastfeeding due to medication, then considered contraindicative, and became inspired by her local Group Leaders to help other mothers as they had helped her.
In 1981, Devorah was accredited as a La Leche League Leader in New Jersey. She moved with her family to Israel in 1984. where she continued working with LLL, first as a Group Leader and then in many LLL administrative positions. LLLI has been a huge part of Devorah and her family’s life.
For LLL Israel, Devorah has served as the Area Coordinator of Leaders, Area Professional Liaison, and in other administrative positions. She was a founding editor of a breastfeeding newsletter in Hebrew for medical professionals, jointly sponsored by LLL-Israel and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.
At the international level, Devorah has served as Coordinator of the International Area Network, Interim Director of the International Division, Division Professional Liaison Coordinator/Administrator and Communication Skills Coordinator.
In addition, Devorah is a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC 2011). She currently works with a major Israeli public health fund and volunteers in the maternity wards of a major hospital.
Devorah holds a BM from Boston University School of Fine Arts, piano performance (1973), an MA in Ethnomusicology (1976), and an MS in Computer Systems Engineering from Columbia University (1984). While raising her family, she worked part-time for many years in the Israeli hi-tech industry, and she taught academic courses in the software field.
Devorah and her husband live in Jerusalem. They have seven children and 19 grandchildren (so far!), all of whom were happily breastfed.
I have been involved on and off with La Leche League since I attended my first meeting as an infant with my mother. She became a Leader in Canada in the 1980s and I attended many meetings throughout my childhood. When I became pregnant with my firstborn, there was no question that I wouldn’t try breastfeeding and I started attending my local La Leche League Canada (LLLC) meetings while pregnant. I started my LLLC Leader accreditation as soon as I was able and continued to be active within LLLC up until my pregnancy with my third in 2020. I served on the LLLC Board for two years from 2017 to 2019 with the last year as Chair (some of you may remember working with me a bit during that time). I am also a professional Project Manager for a very large company in Canada and have worked part-time from home for five years between each pregnancy. I enjoy the flexibility and balance my employer has provided me with to raise my family and keep my career going for the future.
I have three young children ranging in age from 7 months to 7 years. Eloise is my oldest and at home doing virtual learning during this pandemic. Lillian is almost 4 years old and is very excited to start school this September, even if it still ends up being virtual here in Canada. My youngest is Gordon and he is actively learning to roll around the floor but not quite crawling yet. My husband is also working from home this past year which is such a blessing and has provided a unique opportunity for us to eat all of our meals together as a family. He has had a lot more bonding time with all three kids and we are hoping that his employer will continue to allow people to work from home frequently post-pandemic. It helps that he doesn’t have to wake up early as he still bedshares with both the girls while I sleep with Gordon. My husband Ty and I met at work and continue to work together while raising our lively loving family. We are thankful that we have both kept our jobs through this pandemic, and have a 10-acre property to wander when we are on stay-at-home orders (which we are currently under in Ontario Canada). Ty’s parents recently downsized and moved into our attached inlaw suite to be closer to the grandkids and hopefully stay out of long-term care homes in the future. Ty is my best friend, biggest supporter, and the most loving husband I could ask for. I couldn’t imagine parenting through this pandemic with anyone else, or without his help.
In my spare time, amazing I can still carve some out, I enjoy gardening and am learning about native plant species and sustainable harvesting on our land. I also enjoy learning watercolor painting, crafting with the kids, and baking (mostly cakes and cookies). I work out every evening to rebuild my core strength after birthing Gordon, and I do stay awake much too late to catch up on news, emails, and chat with family and friends to stay in touch these days. I know I sound busy but I do have a lot of passion and energy to give to La Leche League and will find the time between naps, downtime, and through the evenings to stay connected within the role as the Affiliate representative for Canada.
I was born in Amarillo, TX into a military family. My father is from Continental, OH via Hialeah, FL and my mother is from Ocean Springs, MS. We traveled and lived all over the US and in Germany. When I was 7 years old my parents became foster parents. So, in addition to my two biological sisters, I have enjoyed being the oldest of at least 35 children (this differs depending on who is counting and if you include those who were casual fosters vs official fosters), including six who permanently joined our family. My family has members of various races, cultures, economic and religious backgrounds.
While my family was living in Germany, I returned to the states to attend college and eventually settled in Orange County California where I completed a bachelor’s degree in Psychology while working full time for Grace Corporation’s Restaurant Division in Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable and Payroll. In 1991 after a major health scare, I returned to Mississippi where my parents had retired. I then married and started my own family.
My daughters were born in 1994 and 1997. Each breastfed into their fifth year. I am not sure how I would have managed without breastfeeding as a parenting tool. I would not have been able to successfully breastfeed without La Leche League. I also have a foster daughter who joined our family when she was 12.
I quickly became a Leader (accredited in 1996) and joined the LAD as an ACLA. I continued working in the LAD and served as RALA for the Southeast Region after my divorce in 2007 and before accepting full time employment in 2013. I have also served as an operator and Director for the LLL Helpline – US and as the Area Conference Coordinator in my Area (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas). I have had the privilege to attend several LLLI conferences and was thrilled to able to take my girls with me to the final conference in Chicago.
I have been an IBCLC since 2001 and completed a master’s degree in Counseling in 2010. I have served Mississippi WIC as the Breastfeeding Program Coordinator. I have worked with various nonprofits dedicated to serving those who live in the margins, most recently with Habitat for Humanity. I have experience in accounting and counseling. I have seen the difference a solid and engaged Board can make for an organization. I am very invested in La Leche League and would like to see it continue and to serve my daughters and their daughters.
Caroline attended her first La Leche League meeting as a brand new mom in 2007 and has been attending monthly meetings ever since. She became a LLL Leader in 2011 and enjoys helping breastfeeding parents, especially those with challenges such as breastfeeding and working. Caroline has served as the National Coordinator of LLL USA’s Live, Love, Latch! event.
Caroline works in clinical research, utilizing her degrees in chemistry and mathematics. She enjoys Zumba, reading, cooking, and napping. Caroline and her husband live near Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, with their 3 children.
Susan was appointed to the Board in 2019 to fill an empty seat for LLL USA. She joined LLL as a new mother in 1977 when she suffered from mastitis and her husband suggested that she call a local La Leche League Leader. She is still thankful for those Leaders in Virginia who got her through that challenge and supported her in beginning a wonderful breastfeeding journey.
3 children and 11 years of breastfeeding later, she was accredited as a Leader in Cleveland, Ohio. Helping families in Cleveland has been a persistently rewarding part of her volunteer life. Her favorite part of helping families is making home visits just to sit with new parents and encourage them as they get to know and understand the needs of their babies.
As a professional, Susan holds a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Virginia. Since 1986 she has been a faculty member at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, teaching courses ranging from freshman composition to Shakespeare in Performance, to Grant Proposal Writing, to Chaucer. For 12 years, she led over 50 study trips for students, traveling with them both within the U.S. and in Europe and Africa. For 6 years, she has served as Associate Dean for the School of Humanities at Baldwin Wallace.
La Leche League has taught her much that she brings to her classroom and to her administrative work every day: communication skills, empathy, building trust, and compassionate problem solving. She hopes now to take the skills she learned from La Leche League and developed throughout her professional career back to La Leche League in her service on the Board of Directors.
Susan has 3 children—Jonathan, Katherine, and Libby—and 7 grandchildren. She is looking forward to 2022 when she will retire and be able to read more, spend more time walking her two standard poodles, and, especially, enjoy the life of a stay-at-home gramma.
Like many people that we support in La Leche League, Johanna found becoming a mother to be life-changing. Johanna attended her first La Leche League meeting in 2009, on the advice of her midwife that she might benefit from meeting some new people who were breastfeeding. Johanna greeted the LLL Leader of that group with: “My baby won’t sleep in the basket!” and burst into tears. That Leader (now a good friend) replied: “Yes… many babies are not keen on those baskets … come in, have a cup of tea, and talk to me about it.” Johanna never left.
A year later when the same Leader suggested that Johanna might like to become a La Leche League Leader, Johanna replied with: “respectfully, I’m unsure. You and I are not really that similar outside of LLL…” The Leader said. “Yes definitely. As La Leche League Leaders, we look through windows, not mirrors to find other Leaders.”
It took Johanna a couple of years to complete her accreditation (as that baby, now a toddler, still didn’t sleep for long). She became a Leader in Yorkshire (England) in early 2014. Johanna was also interested in LLL governance and she was also elected to the LLLGB Board of Trustees in late 2014.
In 2015 Johanna and her co-parent moved to Wales so that they could bring up their son in the country and language of his heritage. There was no active LLL group where Johanna moved to, so, Johanna started one. That local group grew busy and she continues to lead it today with two co-Leaders and several Leader Applicants. Johanna also became the Global Leaders Committee representative for LLLGB and the Leader Department Director for LLLGB. She remained in both roles for over five years. Johanna feels passionately that our volunteer Leaders are the backbone of this organisation and that any governing body needs to take time to truly listen to, and properly support all of the volunteer Leaders. Johanna was elected to the LLLI Board to represent LLLGB in January 2020.
Outside of LLL, Johanna is a human rights, asylum, and family law lawyer and spent 10 years in court practice. After the birth of her son, she moved to work for a UK charity dedicated to upholding Human Rights law in Childbirth. She is also the legal trustee of a UK Midwifery Trust which offers grants to improve maternity care. Johanna loves walking, cooking, reading, house renovating and traveling to meet new people in LLL. She is keen on spending as much time as possible swimming in the sea. She lives with her son in Wales, UK.