United States Breastfeeding Committee National Breastfeeding Conference & Convening: LLL USA Participation
Stephanie “Steph” Bodak Nicholson, LLL USA Council Liaison to USBC representatives
As National Breastfeeding Month comes to a close, we’d like to highlight the participation of La Leche League USA in the recent United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) 2021 Conference & Convening. Following are summaries from three of the four La Leche League USA Leaders who attended the Conference & Convening. These Leaders received complimentary registration: three registrations from LLL USA and one from the USBC. They all participated in this year’s USBC Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Project for 2021.
The USBC is an independent nonprofit coalition of more than 100 influential professional, educational, and governmental organizations that share a common mission to drive collaborative efforts for policy and practices that create a landscape of breastfeeding support across the United States. LLL USA is one of those member organizations. There are three LLL USA representatives to the USBC: Debbi Heffern, Kelly Durbin, and Nekisha Killings. Nekisha Killings holds the Elected Director Chair, Membership Engagement Committee for 2020-2022. Readers can learn more about the USBC and this year’s Conference & Convening at http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/.
LLL USA hosted a Virtual Exhibit Booth at the 2021 USBC Conference & Convening that was well attended and prompted wonderful comments about how La Leche League has supported families in the U.S. Here is a five-minute video that LLL USA put together for the Exhibit: https://youtu.be/HcUysRFTcmI.
Summary of Participation in the USBC Conference & Convening, including the DEI Project 2021
Stephanie C. Amekuedi, She/Her – LLL USA Pines & Palmettos Leader & EDI Committee – LLL USA VP, Mosaic Council Delegate, Fundraising Committee Liaison
“To begin, I was interviewed and completed a DEI questionnaire for USBC. I was asked a lot of questions about my organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and practices. The questions were thought provoking and in line with the theme for the conference. Although there was a snafu with my entrance to the conference, it was fully virtual and while I couldn’t attend live, I have been able to access the sessions after for up to six whole months! I have been able to watch the sessions at my leisure and re-listen when needed. I enjoy the diversity of the speakers and the topics. I love the use of the virtual platform to allow communication between attendees and speakers as well.”
Shaunette Howard (Sky)
“I am so grateful to have been able to participate in this year’s USBC conference! This was my first conference and first virtual conference at that. I want to start by saying that the platform that was being used, WHOVA, was amazing! Being able to participate as if it was live was surprisingly realistic. There were icebreakers, “hallways”, break out sessions, and my favorite: the speed dating version of networking!
The first speaker, Mi’Jan Celie Tho-Biaz, has left a lasting impression on me with her story telling and connection to community and the needs of the BIPOC community.
The presenters were very knowledgeable. One of my favorite sessions was the information, studies, and research on Mental Health and Mamas Milk and the connection to breastfeeding. There was also information about the disconnect of care with Black women and lack of outreach of therapy. Another issue discussed was that majority race being the primary caregivers creates distrust and lack out outreach.
I truly enjoyed the interaction and information shared at this event. I look forward to this being in person, but I would definitely love to attend again if it was online.”
Mireya Tecpaxochitl Gonzalez
“It was an honor and a privilege to have participated in the 2021 USBC Conference & Convening through the endorsement of LLL USA and their support. As a P’urépecha Indigenous breastfeeding mother of two, La Leche League Leader, and chest/breastfeeding advocate, it was empowering to hear the stories of the Native tribal Trail Blazers. Hearing the Trail Blazers’ stories of resilience, of their personal chest/breastfeeding journeys, and experiences serving their Indigenous communities through lactation support services, further affirmed my reasons for continuing Indigenous culturally-centered chest/breastfeeding advocacy in my community. It reignited my passion for providing Spanish lactation support services to Indigenous migrant communities through La Leche League. I appreciate their examples and emphasis on acknowledging the journey it takes for all of us to become confident in the First Food/lactation field. These are words of encouragement that I will take with me on my lactation journey as a lactation service provider and advocate wherever I go.
Throughout my participation in the 2021 USBC Conference & Convening, it was evident that many speakers were identifying similar areas of focus for the upcoming year, trends of unmet lactation needs within communities of color, and action oriented next-steps within lactation work and the lactation field. It was refreshing and empowering to witness the message of many lactation leaders of color be centered and amplified. I was not surprised to learn that the USBC anticipates conducting and implementing more effective strategic planning to continue to uplift chest/breastfeeding communities of color.
Part of the USBC’s strategic planning is to maintain partnerships with the WK Kellogg Foundation in order to collectively take a systems approach to achieving long term sustainable positive health outcomes in child development, and maternal and child health and wellbeing, that is grounded in racial equity, community engagement and leadership. I learned that it is through continued advocacy, collaboration, and partnerships that collectively we can ensure all families are supported in their desire to raise healthy children, starting with human milk as the first traditional food for all babies.
As a La Leche League Leader, it is an honor to be a part of a breastfeeding organization that has also partnered with the USBC and is committed to support efforts toward the adoption and integration of racial equity practices and principles in the First Food field’s programs and services. As we celebrate National Breastfeeding Month, I’m reminded that supporting breast/chestfeeding families by ensuring that their communities are equitable places of opportunity, is a shared responsibility. It is my commitment and personal conviction to support my Indigenous chest/breastfeeding community, and assist the USBC in data collection efforts and in aligning and prioritizing resources to build a more equitable field.”
Please send your story ideas to Amy at [email protected].
Supporting Breastfeeding Families–Today, Tomorrow, Always
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