Thinking about La Leche League (LLL) Leadership?

We hope the following responses will answer some of your questions and aid your understanding of what LLL leadership involves. If you have any additional questions, please submit them via the Leader Inquiry Form.

La Leche League International (LLLI) is a worldwide educational, non–sectarian, not-for-profit, volunteer-based organization. We provide breastfeeding information and support to those who want to breastfeed their infants.

LLL Leaders know the importance of mother-to-mother and peer-to-peer support to help others discover the joy and satisfaction of breastfeeding. Leaders pass on what they have learned about this nurturing and nourishing act so that mothers and parents can make decisions which are best for their families. For more, see the LLL Philosophy and Mission.

Most Leaders fulfill the basic responsibilities of leadership, which are to

  • Help one-to-one through online, phone, or in-person breastfeeding support
  • Plan and lead LLL Group meetings
  • Supervise the management of an LLL Group
  • Keep up to date on breastfeeding information
  • Help potential Applicants find out about LLL leadership and prepare to become Leaders.” (Leaders Rights and Responsibilities)

Leader responsibilities are shared when there is more than one Leader in a Group. Many new Leaders find it beneficial to concentrate on the basic responsibilities for a period of time before considering expanding or changing their service to LLL.

There is the deep satisfaction gained from knowing that you are helping mothers and babies experience the benefits and the joy of breastfeeding.

Many Leaders would add that there are huge benefits to being an LLL Leader:

  • Friendship and support with other Leaders and their families
  • Access to LLL Leader resources
  • Attendance at LLL workshops, conferences and/or webinars as a Leader
  • Opportunity to develop skills and interests at the local or international level
  • Ability to learn about breastfeeding and parenting with others who share LLL philosophy
  • Positive effects of learning on family life
  • Development of transferable skills that can be of immeasurable use within the family or when applied to other work.

As a mother or parent you have already learned how to juggle many different responsibilities in your life. Leaders put the needs of their families first and also give priority to LLL work. Leaders find a way to balance their commitments to both, as well as to other responsibilities they have. The application work is designed to correlate closely with the time needed to fulfill leadership responsibilities. In this way, the application can provide real experience in finding ways to weave LLL work into your life. You might
decide that you want to apply for leadership in the future, when the timing is better for you. Talking with a Leader can help you decide.

Volunteer Leaders represent La Leche League (LLL). Central to our organization is our philosophy. Leaders demonstrate LLL philosophy in action.

Before applying you will need to meet the La Leche League International (LLLI) Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership. (See Prerequisites.)

Yes, many LLL Leaders return to work or school and continue to breastfeed their babies into toddlerhood. They use a variety of parenting strategies to maintain the breastfeeding relationship. 

Talk to your Group Leader who will be happy to discuss any questions you have.

Might there come a time when you would meet the LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership? Perhaps you could delay making your application until a later date.

LLL recognises that mothers in your position have a great deal to offer others who are breastfeeding. LLL Groups are organized on the basis of mother-to-mother and peer-to-peer support. We hope you will stay involved in your local LLL Group and know that we value the contribution you make.

During the application time, you will be working with a representative of the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) and supporting Leader(s). You may also decide to attend a Leader Applicant workshop.

With the LAD representative, you will

  • Explore your personal experience of breastfeeding/chestfeeding and mothering/parenting
  • Discuss LLL philosophy and the role of a Leader
  • Share your comments on application requirements.

With the supporting Leader(s) or at a workshop, you will

  • Discuss the basic Leader responsibilities and learn about LLL as an organization
  • Explore how Leaders facilitate Group meetings
  • Practice responding to helping questions using active listening and other communication skills.

On your own, with supporting Leader(s) or in a group, you will

  • Become familiar with breastfeeding topics and how to support the usual course of breastfeeding/chestfeeding
  • Learn how to access resources available to parents and Leaders.

On your own you will

  • Read books and other publications about breastfeeding management, childbirth and Leader work
  • Attend LLL meetings, workshops or conferences.

For more information, see Steps to Accreditation.

It can be different for each individual, depending on factors such as your organizational skills, the number and ages of your children, other commitments, and time available.

  • Many Leader Applicants find that they can complete the required reading, writing, discussion and study in about six months to a year.
  • Applicants set their own pace and decide, with their supporting Leaders, how often to meet. During this time Applicants are expected to be working actively on at least one of the application requirements.
  • Communicating with your LAD representative is key to progressing at a pace that suits you. If you run into any barriers, please let your LAD representative and supporting Leaders know, so they can help you figure out a new plan.
  • Your LAD representative and supporting Leaders are your support network during the application period. They can help you keep up the momentum to reach your goal of LLL leadership.

You may have to pay an LLL membership fee and/or application fee.  There may also be a fee for application materials. These fees vary according to where you live.

A requirement of application work is to be familiar with the current edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, if available in an accessible language and format. This resource is central to Leader work and answers many of the questions often asked by mothers and parents about breastfeeding. You may want to have your own copy of this resource.

Most resources needed for Leader work are available online.

At the end of an application there may be an accreditation fee, which covers the administrative costs involved with accreditation.

So to summarize, the cost of becoming an LLL Leader may include

  • Membership fee
  • Application fee
  • Application materials
  • Purchase of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
  • Accreditation fee.

If any of these possible costs is a financial burden for you, talk with the Leader working with you or a member of the Leader Accreditation Department.

Once a Leader is accredited, there are annual Leader dues, which include LLL membership and Leader liability insurance with LLLI. The payment system can vary, depending on your location. Please check with your local LLL.

La Leche League carries general liability and professional services insurance for all volunteer Leaders. A Leader pays annual Leader dues in order to be covered by this insurance. Some LLL entities may have different arrangements regarding payment and may provide Leaders in their entity with Leader insurance.

An accredited La Leche League Leader has

Yes, it is possible to apply.

  • There may be an LLL Group near you that you are unaware of.  Find your nearest Group by contacting a local LLL Leader.
  • If your nearest Group is too far away for you to attend meetings regularly, consider attending virtual meetings in another city, state, province or country.  This will help you form a relationship with the Group Leader(s). It will give you the opportunity to observe how a Leader facilitates the discussion and responds to participants’ questions and concerns. It will help you decide if this is a role you’d be comfortable with. If yes, you can discuss leadership with one of the Group Leaders and ask them to write a recommendation for you. 
  • If a Leader is able to write a recommendation, but unable to work with you during your preparation for leadership, the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) representative coordinating your application will find another Leader to work with you.  
  • If there is no Group where you are or you are not finding a virtual meeting, please fill out the Leader Inquiry Form.  You will be referred to a LAD representative who can help you.  
  • This person will initiate a pre-application discussion to see if you meet the LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for LLL Leadership. You will discuss LLL philosophy, the work of a Leader, application requirements and the cost of applying. 
  • If, after having a thorough pre-application discussion, you and the LAD representative both agree to proceed with your application, the LAD representative will write a recommendation for you and initiate your application.  

An isolated Applicant has no LLL Group or Leader near them. They may have attended LLL Group meetings when living somewhere else. Or they may only know about LLL from reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, looking at an LLL website, and/or talking with other mothers or parents.

If you are an isolated Applicant, a member of the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) will help connect you with a virtual LLL Group. This will help you form a relationship with the Group Leader(s). It will give you the opportunity to observe how a Leader facilitates the discussion and responds to participants’ questions and concerns. It will help you decide if this is a role you’d be comfortable with.  If yes, you can discuss leadership with one of the Group Leaders and ask them to write you a recommendation.

All Applicants need to complete the LLLI Criteria for Leader Accreditation. Applicants who are members of an LLL Group meet regularly, usually in person, with their supporting Leaders and continue to learn about Leader work by attending Series Meetings and helping the Group Leaders prepare for these meetings.

As an isolated Applicant,

  • You will be bringing LLL to your community or perhaps restarting an LLL Group that closed months or years ago
  • You will likely be supported by a Leader whom you have only met long-distance.
  • You will be communicating primarily with your supporting Leader and LAD representative
  • You will need to learn about LLL Series Meetings, if you haven’t previously attended any.

Tips for isolated Applicants:

  • Become familiar with the Leader’s Handbook. It can become your “best friend” in helping you prepare to fulfill leadership responsibilities.
  • Find ways to learn about Series Meetings.
    • When visiting friends or family, check to see if an LLL Group exists there, and if a meeting is scheduled during your visit.
    • Find a Group in your entity and ask the Group Leader if you can attend the meeting via online video.
    • Many Groups hold virtual meetings. Find a virtual group to attend even if it is in another city, state, province or country.
    • Discuss with your supporting Leader how an LLL meeting is different from a breastfeeding class.
  • In some areas, Applicants participate in online work groups for leader preparation.
  • Attend LLL workshops, study days, conferences and webinars, whenever possible.
  • Make use of online resources on this website or other LLL websites.
  • Prior to accreditation, learn what you will need to do to start, or re-open, an LLL Group in your community.

There are never too many Leaders in a Group.

Groups find that having another co-Leader is helpful when a Leader needs to step back from Leader work for a few weeks or months.  This may include: having another baby, moving to a new house, dealing with health issues, returning to school or work. etc.

Having several Leaders helps the Group maximize their impact in the community. They may be able to 

  • offer both evening and daytime meetings
  • hold meetings in different locations, especially if they live in a big city or cover a large rural area
  • split into two separate Groups
  • offer prenatal breastfeeding classes
  • offer special meetings for couples or mothers/parents breastfeeding toddlers.

Some of the Group Leaders may decide to take on additional responsibilities, such as

  • attending networking meetings with healthcare providers and other community supporters
  • accepting an administrative position at the Area, Direct Connect Entity (DCE) or international level of the organization.

Each Group of co-Leaders works out what will suit everyone best and meet the needs of the local community.

No problem!

You can continue to work with the same supporting Leader(s) and LAD representative, especially if there is no LLL Group or Leader in your new location. 

Or your application can move with you. Since the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) is international, the LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership and Criteria for Leader Accreditation are the same everywhere, regardless of location. Although you won’t need to “start over,” you and the Leaders in your new Group will need some time to get to know each other.

Before moving,

  • Ask your supporting Leader or LAD representative for contact information for the new Group and/or Area
  • Share the moving plans with them, including new address and changes to your contact information
  • Discuss your preference during the move by
    • placing your application on hold for a short time as you settle into your new home.  When you are ready to begin working on your application again, your LAD representative will let you know what you have already completed and what work remains
    • continuing to work with the current LAD representative
    • working with a LAD representative in your new area.

There is a great deal you can do to support your local Group. Perhaps you could take on a Group job, such as librarian or treasurer, or offer to help with publicity or fundraising. Your Group Leader may be able to suggest ways in which your support would be especially helpful.

Ask your Group Leader about Evaluation or Enrichment Meetings. Taking part in these meetings is an excellent way to stay involved in your Group and gain an insight into the role of an LLL Leader.

You can attend workshops which are open to those interested in leadership as well as Leaders and Applicants.

Read as many books and LLL publications as you can about breastfeeding and parenting. Ask your Group Leader to recommend publications, which may be available from your Group Library or local public library. This can be very worthwhile preparation before applying for LLL leadership at a later time.

Absolutely! Active members are the backbone of an LLL Group. Sharing your experiences with others in the Group shows a real-life example of how breastfeeding can work. Your one-to-one support may inspire others to face any challenges that arise. Members often take on Group jobs, such as librarian, treasurer, or greeter. The commitment of active members makes a crucial difference to the success of an LLL Group.

You might also be interested in one of the following options.

  • Breastfeeding task force: If your town has one of these, it will bring together many lactation supporters from various venues and organizations
  • International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC): An IBCLC is a healthcare
    professional working in a private practice, hospital, physician’s office or other clinical setting. IBCLCs are certified through the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE)
  • Your country may have other qualifications for breastfeeding and parenting support.

It is important that you talk with an LLL Leader before making an application. One of the prerequisites to applying for LLL leadership is a Leader recommendation.

If you are currently attending LLL Group meetings, contact one of the Leaders to arrange a pre-application dialogue.  Write down any questions you have while they are fresh in your mind.

If you are not attending LLL Group meetings, use the LLLI Leader/Group Locater to find a meeting near you or fill out a Leader Inquiry Form.