Board of Directors
Top row, left to right: Helen Lowery & baby, Ellen Mateer, Shevawn O’Connor, Sandy Moore-Furneaux, Carmen Vandenabeele, Devorah Schesch Wernick
Bottom row, left to right: Ann Calandro, Janette Hurley, Linda Smith, Cecily Harkins, Lee Claassen (Executive Director)
Cecily’s 50year Leader pin received in Mexico City in November 2016 is among her most cherished possessions. Cecily has experienced LLL from coast to coast within the USA starting in New Jersey, then in Texas and now in Oregon. Her involvement early on was in LAD, as the very first CLA for Texas/ Oklahoma, then as among the first RALA’s (Regional LAD) with Founder Mary Ann Cahill, followed as Associate LAD Director, then on the LLLI Board from 1984-1991.
Each of the seven Founders whom Cecily valued as friends and mentors as well as the wisdom of Gregory White MD and Herbert Ratner MD, founding fathers of League with whom she shared speaking panels, influenced her parenting. Expecting her first baby in NYC where she taught brain-injured children Cecily took classes at Elizabeth Bing’s home never realizing she would become the President of Lamaze in the USA. Cecily says she is blessed to have lived the history of LLL including attending the Chicago Conference with Princess Grace; having Mary White stay at her home and speaking at Conferences all over the world. Last summer Cecily traveled to Dallas for a 50th year anniversary party organized by the current Leader of the group she started. Cecily is proud to say that many of her former Leaders who still live nearby attended passing on the torch with their stories.
Cecily’s LLL global awareness began in LAD including working with the then new Affiliates. For the last 16 years, her work has been with the International Area Network, both in Finances and in Communication Skills, supporting Leaders in Asia, Central and South America, Mexico, the Middle East and South Africa, and for part of that time in Europe. So, Cecily says she has friends whom she has never met thanks to the wonders of electronics.
Husband Alex proudly boasts that their wedding was featured in Leaven (former Leaders publication). Cecily says that dating a LLL widow meant intense scrutiny by her colleagues! She and Alex had eight adult children, five of whom live just minutes away; one in Oregon and two currently in Europe. 17 grandchildren and five great grands add to their lively lives. Cecily has experienced home births (her daughters have also), homeschooling (two children until college) and home deaths (her 100+ year old mother last year). Cecily is a Dallas Cowboy football fan and she likes a good suspense thriller to turn off her brain at night.
Ann is a native North Carolinian, who attended college at UNC-Chapel Hill and graduated with a BSN in Nursing. Several years ago she went back to school and got her MSN in Nursing with a focus on adult education. After graduation Ann went into the Army Nurse Corps as a first lieutenant, and served as a pediatric nurse in Texas, New Jersey and in Arkansas during the Vietnam refugee boat lift camp. While in the Army she married Jim, and they had their first child in 1976, while she was still in the Army. It took a letter from President Ford to get her out of my Army commitment two months early, due to nursing her baby. Her local LLL Leader supported her when she had to return to work, and later was her accrediting Leader in Matawan New Jersey. (1977)
Ann and Jim had 3 other children, in 1978, 1983 and 1986. They lived in Streamwood, Illinois, Longwood, Florida, and Marietta Georgia before moving to Waxhaw NC in 1994.
Ann has held many positions in LLL, in the Leader Department in Florida and in the Professional Liaison Department for many years. She joined the LLL BOD in 2010 and served until 2014, when she also spent two months as the Interim Executive Director. Currently she is listed as Leader for her LLL Saturday morning group and also a DA for two NC districts. In 1989 she sat for the IBLCE examination and passed. She worked for over 20 years as an IBCLC in the hospital and currently has a private practice. Ann served on the IBLCE Board of Directors from 2000- 2006. She also has a soap making business.
Currently Ann has six grandchildren, ages 14, 12, 11, 9, 4 and 7 months (all breastfed!) and she is lucky that four of them live very close and two only three-hour drive away. Ann also has three dogs and two horses. Ann loves to read, sew and bake. She is honored to be invited back to serve on the Board for another term, and hopes to represent our Leaders and help them continue our important mission.
Carmen was first elected to fill one of the Europe Zone seats on the Board in 2001, reelected for a second term in 2004 and again in 2016. Carmen was accredited in 1983. She was ACLA and CLA for France and RALA for Europe before serving LLLI and the International Division for 11 years, first as Director and then as Co-Director. In 2010 she and 20 other Leaders founded a new, chaordic Area in France. She was the lone Leader of her local Group until October 2016.
In her « other life » she managed two small businesses and was a councilwoman for seven years in Elancourt. Carmen enjoys dual citizenship, two cultural backgrounds and a multi-lingual, multi-cultural family. She grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, and she has lived near Paris, France for over 50 years. She and her husband, Jean Paul, have three Franco-American children, a Franco-Czech son-in-law, a Chinese daughter-in-law, five grandchildren plus one on the way.
Carmen prefers to lead discussion sessions rather than to speak on any topic. Her favorites are: the value of each Leader; the importance of memberships; mother-to-mother and Leader-to-Leader support; caring confrontation and problem resolution; balancing LLL responsibilities with family responsibilities, priorities and the 36-hour-day to-do list. Parenting favorites include loving guidance at all ages and nutrition topics.
Among her favorite quotes are:
“The Leader is the most important person in LLLI, because she delivers our product (mother-to-mother help for breastfeeding). ” —Betty Wagner
“When the best leader’s work is done, the people will say ‘We did it ourselves.‘ “—Lao Tzu
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea. As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.” – Antoine de St. Exupéry
Ellen lives in West Yorkshire in the UK with her partner and three children aged 16, 14, and 10. 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 a mother’s right to trust her instincts, for mums 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.
Sandy is a native of Oklahoma who grew up in Washington state. She returned to Oklahoma for college, then moved to Texas for a decade, where, after having her first two sons, she was accredited in 1985 with LLL of Lake Jackson, Texas, USA. The family moved back to Oklahoma when Sandy was pregnant with her third son.
She has held a number of LLL positions over the years, including Associate Area Professional Liaison, Communications Skills Instructor, Web Master, Coordinator of Leader Accreditation, and Social Media Team member, to name but a few. Ongoing personal and professional development are important to Sandy.
Outside LLL, she is a member of several organizations including disaster response agencies and the Coalition of Oklahoma Breastfeeding Advocates. She has taken several levels of FEMA emergency response preparedness training, first aid training, and CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training, is a member of the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps, and she participates in ongoing disaster preparedness training with her local volunteer group, the Noman Emergency Response Volunteers Team (NERVT). Sandy is a licensed amateur radio operator with the call sign N5LLL.
Finally, Sandy is a member of the Animal Welfare Oversight Committee in Norman, Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma City Herpetological and Invertebrate Society’s Rescue Team. Sandy often responds to calls from metropolitan animal welfare agencies, the local police, and members of the community to collect, treat, and rehome or relocate frogs, lizards, snakes, and turtles. She and her husband John Currently enjoy the companionship of one rescue dog, two cats (one also a rescue), eight snakes (four of whom are rescues), three frogs, one Mediterranean Day Gecko, and two rescue lizards, a bearded dragon and a golden gecko; the latter will be rehomed when their health has stabilized. She also enjoys knitting, which she learned to do while in Germany, and she is (occasionally) working on her first quilting project.
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 facilitator of 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.
Janette was elected to the Board in March 2013 from Zone Canada.
She is the overseeing physician of the Bridges Student Run Clinic. Janette has been practicing family medicine in Calgary, Alberta for nearly 30 years. She participates in innovative family practice with strong emphasis on a Holistic and Integrative approach to care. Her practice encompasses serving all, but especially the underserved.
She is fascinated and intrigued by addiction as a chronic disease, its role in the brain and its implications in our society. See more on her website.
Janette’s dream is to have Integrative Medicine incorporated as part of the programming in the Calgary Health Region.
Currently, Dr. Hurley is a Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine. She is Co-chair of the Culture Health and Wellness Medical Curriculum and also the Chair of the Family, Human Development both in the Undergraduate Medical Curriculum. Janette derives great satisfaction in teaching undergraduate medical students. She is also the Co-chair of the “Healer’s Art Program” at University of Calgary.
Janette is a graduate (2006) & Fellow of the Program in Integrative Medicine, University of Arizona. She also has advanced training in: Homeopathy, Yoga, and Mind-Body techniques. She is a recipient of the prestigious Bravewell Fellowship Award (2004-2006). Janette achieves immense joy from practicing Integrative Medicine and seeing the positive results of this work in people’s lives. Janette was born and raised in Grenada, West Indies.
Shevawn has been a Leader since 1993. She has served as Area Coordinator of Leaders (ACL) for LLL Italia, and was a member of the European Council from 2013 to 2016. Shevawn states that being part of the European Council has broadened her perspective regarding what LLL is and how LLL works. She’s ready to contribute to building the future of LLLI, and 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.
Linda was nominated from the floor and elected to the LLLI Board of Directors in October 2016.
Linda attended her first LLL meeting in Laurel, Maryland while pregnant with her first child. She was accredited as a Leader in May 1974 in San Antonio, TX and has been an active Leader in 5 cities in the USA and Canada: San Antonio, TX (twice); Alexandria, VA; Yorktown VA; Dayton OH, and Ottawa, Ont.
Although she “retired” for several years, she returned to Active status as one of the writers of Sweet Sleep. She leads Group meetings as a substitute for Leaders in the Dayton, Ohio, USA area and participates in LLL Ohio activities. She served in the Professional Liaison Department for several years and played a major role in helping LLLI develop what is now the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners and has been an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant since 1985.
Linda has spoken at LLL Conferences and other breastfeeding events in 19 countries; her presentations have been translated into 12 languages including Chinese, Russian and Inuktitut; and she presented her research to experts at World Health Organization meetings. She is the author of four professional textbooks on birth and breastfeeding.
Linda holds or has held leadership positions in the American Public Health Association (APHA), United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), the American Breastfeeding Institute (ABI), the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services (CIMS,) the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA), and the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). Linda serves as ILCA’s liaison to the World Health Organization’s Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative and chairs ILCA’s International Code Committee. She is a consultant to Baby-Friendly USA and INFACT Canada/IBFAN North America. She currently teaches an 80-hour course on breastfeeding & human lactation (PPS/CMH616) to medical students in Dayton, OH. She holds an undergraduate degree in Physical Education and a Master in Public Health, Global Health concentration.
Linda’s three children are now adults, and her 4 grandchildren were all breastfed.
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.