What Is LAD?

Lori Bryan, Lodi, California, USA and Linda Wieser, Nova Scotia, Canada

The authors wish to thank Lupe Forsang, Hesperia, California, USA and Cecily Harkins, Portland, Oregon, USA, for sharing information about the history of the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD). The LLLove Story by Kaye Lowman was also used as a resource.

LAD (the Leader Accreditation Department): 
  • Is an international department of La Leche League (LLL).
  • Implements LLLI Board policies relating to Leader accreditation.
  • Has the responsibility to accredit Leaders worldwide who have the experience, knowledge, and skills they will need to do their job with confidence and pleasure.
  • Maintains universal criteria for Leader accreditation.
  • Explains LLL philosophy to Leader Applicants and Leaders.
  • Works with Leaders and Applicants to ensure the continuation of La Leche League

Qualification of Leaders began in 1962 after Groups were being started outside the Chicago, Illinois area in the USA. In The LLLove Story (p. 37) Founder Edwina Froehlich said:

“There were all kinds of things being said in the name of La Leche League. And it was our fault because we’d told them to go ahead and do what they wanted. We didn’t realize that they didn’t have the same concept of mothering through breastfeeding that we had. We realized we were going to have to put a stop to this, so we began qualifying leaders in and out of the area.”

To become an LLL Leader in the early 1960’s potential Applicants had to write answers to 15 questions, which later expanded to 23 questions. All were questions a mother might ask a Leader. At the bottom of the form, it said:

“In addition to submitting the questionnaire replies, please send a statement that you have completed the required reading. Also send a brief personal history resume, including your childbirth and nursing experiences (such as when solids were started, time and nature of weaning, etc.) as described in the Letter of Introduction to the New Group Kit…

After a few weeks, the person heard back if they were approved to be a Leader. Over the years wording within the LAD has changed from “approved” to “certified” and finally to “accredited.”

In 1964 Marybeth Doucette was named Director of New Groups and started corresponding with Leader Applicants to determine that the person understood breastfeeding techniques and had a good grasp of LLL mothering philosophy. Thus began the LAD. Written correspondence took between six to twelve months to complete. All Applicants were initially approved by Marybeth and her assistants. In 1966 “Marybeth began appointing state-level New Group Chairmen. When a state had a large number of mothers applying for leadership and when there was someone in the state who was experienced and well-versed in League philosophy, then that state got a New Group Chairman” (Lowman 1978, p.45). By 1972 there was a New Group Chairman for every state. Originally, new Leaders sent meeting reports to the New Group Chairman for every US state; however, in 1972 it was decided that New Group Chairmen would only work with Applicants; thus, the name was changed to Chairman of Leader Applications (CLA) (Lowman 1978, p. 53).

By the early 1970’s the Board recognized that certification of Applicants varied from state to state because each New Group Chairman had a slightly different idea about LLL philosophy. Using The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding as the basis for their work, three Leaders (Mary Ann Bytnar, Rita Gorski and Rosann Miller) were appointed to bring consistency to the interpretation of LLL philosophy. They presented paragraphs on eight concepts to the LLLI Board. The Board condensed each paragraph into one sentence and officially adopted the eight concepts in September 1972. The “baby’s need for constant mothering” concept was added in 1973 and the loving guidance concept in 1975.

In 1976, four divisions—Eastern United States (EUS), Western Division, Canada, Around the World (ATW) – were created for the Leader Department, but the CLA Department (now called the LAD) remained an international department with one director. This was to “…maintain uniformity in the principles and methods of certifying leaders…” (Lowman, p.70).

Because of the importance of uniform accreditation, the Board put Founder Mary Ann Cahill in charge of this international department. Thus, Cahill became the first director of the LAD, personally selecting the initial group of Regional Administrators of Leader Applications (RALAs) with whom she would work. She developed the Leader Application Packet. Up until this point, the New Group Chairmen, then CLAs, only worked with Applicants. Now Group Leaders began to assume a role in helping Applicants prepare for leadership.

In the late 1970’s, “Preparing for Leadership” about recruiting and working with Applicants, became a column in the Leader journal Leaven (now Leader Today). And in 1977, chapters of the newly written Leader’s Handbook were distributed in loose leaf format, one or two chapters at a time (Lowman 1978, p. 70).

During the 1980’s the LLLI Board continued to refine the policy for leadership preparation. This policy, Applying for Leadership, LLLI Policies and Standing Rules (PSR), states the LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for LLL Leadership and the LLLI Criteria for Leader Accreditation. It, along with Concept Explanations, LLLI PSR, guide the LAD on assessing the experience of candidates for leadership.

Current LAD Structure (see the LAD International Chart)

The LAD works at the Area, Direct Connect Entity (DCE) and International levels of LLL.

  • The Area LAD is administrated by the Coordinator of Leader Accreditation, which is also abbreviated as “CLA.” If needed, the CLA will recruit Associate CLAs (ACLAs) to work with Applicants in the Area.
  • Each DCE has:
    • An Administrator of Leader Accreditation (ALA) or
    • Co-ALAs or
    • In the USA, an ALA and several RALAs.
  • LAD International, as an administrative body, includes:
    • The LAD Council (all ALAs plus LAD Council Advisors).
    • The LLLI Director of Leader Accreditation Department (DLAD).

The term “LAD International” includes all members of the LAD.

The LLLI Board of Directors is responsible for making changes to LLL philosophy, including the Concept Statements and Explanations (Concept Explanations), and to the LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for LLL Leadership and LLLI Criteria for Leader Accreditation (Applying for Leadership). The LAD implements these policies.


What do LAD representatives do?

LAD representatives implement LLLI policies related to accreditation by:

  • Coordinating applications for LLL leadership.
  • Working with Applicants and Leaders to accredit new Leaders.
  • Providing information, explanations and guidance about LLL philosophy, accreditation policies and LAD procedures, e.g., writing articles, presenting sessions at Area workshop/conferences, responding to questions.
  • Consulting with the LLLI Board when there is a question about implementation of accreditation policies.

LAD representatives’ work involves time:

  • Reading Applicants’ writing about their personal history.
  • Dialoguing with Applicants about their experiences, LLL philosophy and the work of a Leader.
  • Encouraging Applicants to stay motivated.
  • Writing to supporting Leaders about Applicants’ progress and suggestions for their leadership preparation.
  • Consulting with other LAD representatives when questions arise.
  • Accrediting Applicants when the LLLI Criteria for Leader Accreditation have been met.
Guiding Principles of LAD Work


  • Consulting the CLA for the Area when questions or concerns arise.
  • Consulting the R/ALA, DLAD and LAD Council, when needed.

Universal criteria for accreditation

  • Implementing LLLI policies related to Leader accreditation (Applying for Leadership, Concept Explanations, and LLLI Leader Accreditation Appeals Policies and Process) the same way for all Areas and DCEs.
  • Keeping updated on Board revisions to these policies.
  • Communicating among ALAs via LAD Council meetings and written correspondence.
  • Sharing LAD information in the “Preparing for Leadership” column in Leader Today.


  • Respecting information shared by an Applicant.
  • Consultation among LAD administrators, if there are questions, also respects confidentiality, keeping all information within the LAD.

Effective dialogue

  • Viewing all dialogue as the exchange of information, ideas and opinions.
  • Giving timely feedback, i.e., responding to Applicants and Leaders within two weeks or less, to show that the conversation is valued.
  • Respecting the experience of the person with whom one is communicating.

For the past 48 years, the Founders and then the LLLI Board have developed policies that reflect LLL philosophy and the importance of the universal accreditation of Leaders. The LAD is the international department designated to implement these policies, thus ensuring the future of the organization.

Resource for history of the Leader Accreditation Department: Lowman, Kaye. The LLLove Story. La Leche League International, Inc. 1978.

Lori Bryan lives in Lodi, California, USA where she lives with her husband Mark.  They have four grown children and four grandchildren. Lori has been a Leader since 1988 and involved in the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) since 1992. She is currently an Administrator of Leader Accreditation for LLL USA and Contributing Editor for “A Taste of LAD International” in LADders, a publication for LAD representatives.

Linda Wieser lives in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, with her husband, Jim. They have two grown daughters and four grandchildren. Linda has been a Leader since 1984. For many years she worked in the Professional Liaison Department as Area Professional Liaison for LLL Michigan, USA, and then LLL Atlantic Canada. In 2008, she became a member of the Leader Accreditation Department. Linda is currently the interim LLLI Director of Leader Accreditation Department (DLAD). She is also the Contributing Editor for “Preparing for Leadership” in Leader Today and the Contributing Editor for “How Would Your Respond?” in LADders.