Catherine: I’m speaking today with lactation expert and activist Jeanette McCulloch. Jeanette, I know your talk at the 2017 REACHE conference will be about reaching out to Millennials. How did you first come to focus on that demographic in particular?
Jeanette: That’s a great question. I’ve been thinking about this topic for awhile. The reason I decided to design a new talk on this subject is because I see how often in casual conversation or in professional groups online I hear lactation professionals, childbirth education professionals, doulas, expressing frustration with some characteristics that I think are fairly typical of Millennial families. I think that frustration is absolutely to be expected when people are working across generations, but I also think that finding ways to overcome that frustration and have a real love and appreciation for what makes Millennials unique will make us all both do a better job at confidently reaching out to, teaching to, and marketing to Millennials. Some of my first work was direct client work. I remember my mentor at the time said to me, “You really will not succeed if you don’t find a way to love, to find SOMETHING to love about every client that you work with.” And that idea kept coming back to me. I think we all need to find ways to truly love some aspect of every Millennial client that we work with.
C: That sounds like great advice. And you do work to support LGBTQ families as well, right? Would you like to elaborate on any of that experience?
J: Sure, so my interest in working with LGBTQIA families really stems from my own family experience. My partner and I have two children and we, my partner and I, really intended to co-nurse both of our children. We had lots of difficulties finding accurate, evidence-based information to help us figure out the best way to achieve that for our family. So that really sparked my interest in making sure that all LGBTQIA families had access to accurate information. I think one of the unique challenges of serving LGBTQIA families is frankly, much like Millennials, our community is not a monolithic community. The needs of folks like me and my partner are very different than, let’s say, a person who’s transgender and who’s breastfeeding, or an adoptive dad who is chest-feeding.
C: Speaking of feeding, I know you’ve also put together an online course on breastfeeding mothers and social media. Can you tell us who its audience is and how you came up with the content for it?
J: I actually co-lead that class with Amber McCann, who is also an IBCLC and my partner in crime on a few different communication projects. We developed it because we saw lactation professionals recognizing that, increasingly, their clients were online. The lactation professionals really felt like they needed some skills, either just to understand what their clients were doing, even if they had no intention of being online themselves, they wanted to have a better understanding of their clients. Or, in some cases, they themselves wanted to begin and figure out ways that they could provide better lactation support or more effectively market by using online tools.
C: And a talk you once gave at Lamaze was about using today’s digital tools in the classroom. Will you be trying some of that out on us during your REACHE presentation? We love interactive participation at our conference!
J: Yes! I’m laughing because that was a presentation that I gave where we did in fact use digital tools during the presentation, and I will tell you it was a little bit of a… we had a number of technological glitches. Pretty much everything except a computer bursting into flames happened during that talk! But it was a great lesson in how to integrate digital tools without relying on them to such a degree that if you did have technological glitches, it would be disruptive or THE END of your presentation! And yes, I will be integrating some of the tools from that presentation, both some of the tools and the teaching methodologies. That was a presentation that I gave alongside Sharon Muza and I always learn so much from her about effectively working with adult learners.
C: Yes, Sharon is actually a former REACHE president. Speaking of presidents, I know it was a long time ago, but do you see your years working as a campaign assistant and Illinois state legislative aide as having been somehow formative for the work that you do now?
J: Oh, that is a really good question! The district that I worked for in Chicago was the most diverse district in the state of Illinois and so I had both the opportunity and the enormous pleasure to work with incredibly diverse populations. I think that work and those efforts really shaped my understanding of the need to be able to reach all different kinds of people with different value systems… that it is possible to reach all kinds of people, with all kinds of value systems, and different resources and different educational levels and bring people together to work for a common cause.
C: Sounds like words of wisdom that come back to be useful two dozen years later, doesn’t it?
J: Exactly, exactly!
C: Well, It’s been a pleasure hearing about your diverse interests and experiences today, Jeanette. We look forward to meeting you in March.
J: Likewise. I’m really looking forward to it!