Leadership Across Generations:
Joannie, Lori and Kari

Leadership Across Generations: Joannie, Lori and Kari

Categories: Breastfeeding Today, Current Issue

Three Leaders in One Family

Lori Bryan is a Leader in California and two of her daughters Joannie Stevenson and Kari Joly became Leaders. Lori, Joannie and Kari share their stories here.

Lori

La Leche League (LLL) has been part of my life for 39 years after attending a meeting when pregnant with my first daughter, Joannie. While I went to the meeting for information, I got so much more: life-long friendships and a way of parenting that helped make my four children the wonderful people they are today. I became a Leader 35 years ago, when my second daughter Kari was two. By the time Cindy and then Russ were born, LLL was a part of our daily life as I took on more responsibilities in the Group and Area. It was important for me to do volunteer work where my children could be with me and part of what I was doing.

A family photo with all four children and four grandchildren

It was wonderful becoming a grandparent and being there for my girls as they became mothers. I used the “share information instead of giving advice” with lots of positive comments for what they were doing right as they learned about mothering through breastfeeding. I wasn’t the one who recommended that my daughters become LLL Leaders – they made that decision themselves!

In 2015, the three of us (plus two babies) met in Southern California for the Area Conference. Joannie and Kari were honored in the new Leader ceremony and got to enjoy a terrific conference while I got to help with my grandchildren. Needless to say, I am quite proud of having both of them follow in my footsteps and give their volunteer time to LLL.

Lori Bryan is a Leader in Lodi, California, USA, currently the Administrator of Leader Accreditation for LLL USA. She is mother to Joannie, Kari, Cindy and Russ and Grammie to Noah, Amelie, Piper and Parker. She will be retiring as a Physical Therapist this year and return to raising Guide Dog Puppies for the Blind.

Joannie

La Leche League (LLL) has been a part of my life since I was a child. I remember going to meetings in Leaders’ homes when I was young, my mom hosting the Group phone line (ringing round-the-clock) and spending hours at the computer working with Leader Applicants around the globe.

Breastfeeding wasn’t anything I researched when I was pregnant because I already knew that breastfeeding was natural and how I would feed my baby. I thought I had a leg up because my mom was an LLL Leader, but I was definitely that mom who was crying because it hurt! Luckily, when I “called my mom” I got a lot more help than an average mom.

I worked hard to become a Leader before my second was born. These days we don’t have a Group phone line but text and email mothers frequently. We maintain a Facebook page and host monthly Zoom meetings. LLL is different from my childhood, but I have still made those same lifelong connections and friends. As the generations grow, the challenges of breastfeeding remain the same. Moms still need other moms for support and connection.

Joannie Stevenson is a Leader in Clintonville, Wisconsin, USA, currently serving the New London and Green Bay communities and is the Treasurer for the Events Team for LLL Wisconsin. Joannie is the mother of Noah and Piper and married to Troy. She is a peer counselor for WIC and teaches English to children in China.

Back row: the three of us together (Kari on the left, Lori in the middle and Joannie)

Kari

La Leche League (LLL) has always been a part of my life. Being the second born out of four breastfed babies, breastfeeding was so natural to me. My sister and I would always play “house” where I breastfed my dolls and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a mom.

LLL is so much more than breastfeeding support, it’s a community of women who support each other long after their breastfeeding journey has ended through lifelong friendships and family legacies.

When I became a mother myself it was a bit of a wakeup call. My mom made it look so easy! I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding [WAB] and figured breastfeeding wouldn’t be too hard, but swollen breasts and a shallow latch proved otherwise, ouch! I was so grateful to have my mother, an LLL veteran, there to guide me through the first week. Unknown to me, she was grooming me to become a Leader, encouraging me to find my own answers in the WAB.
In Whitehorse, what started as a breastfeeding support group in our remote town, merged into an LLL Group when I and a friend of mine, whose mother was also a Leader, worked with other Leaders towards our accreditation. It was always fun when my mom came up to visit and was able to attend meetings. She even helped in the pre-application dialogue with some friends wanting to become Leaders while visiting. When I was pregnant with my son, my daughter was still nursing. There was a point when it was too painful to continue, so of course I called my mom. When my son was born it was so much easier!

My sister and I, both Leaders and each having our second child only one month apart, often talked about breastfeeding struggles and would brainstorm and bounce ideas off each other when working with mothers. LLL is so much more than breastfeeding support, it’s a community of women who support each other long after their breastfeeding journey has ended through lifelong friendships and family legacies.

Kari Joly is a Leader in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. She is mother to Amelie and Parker and married to Davy. She stays busy with her dog training business and enjoying the great outdoors with her family.

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