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  Back to Chicago 2009 Conference Chicago 2009 Faculty and Staff

Conference Faculty

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Natalie Bellini, R.N., C.D.E., has had diabetes since she was a young child and within a year of finishing nursing school started to care for people with diabetes, first focusing on high risk pregnancy and then pediatrics and insulin-requiring adults. She has lectured both nationally and internationally to clinicians, patients and their families. Natalie has worked with children and adults of all ages and has assisted in initiating and expanding pump programs at numerous hospitals and private practices. She is currently a Clinical Sales Specialist with Ethicon, a division of Johnson and Johnson. She enjoys working with children and teens, and has a second full-time job as mom to her daughter, Erin, who is now in college.

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Bruce Buckingham, M.D., received his medical degree from the University of California at San Diego, and did his pediatric and endocrine fellowship at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. On becoming an attending at CHLA, he had the pleasure of working with Dr. Fran Kaufman as she started her endocrine fellowship. He subsequently moved to the Children's Hospital of Orange County where he remained for 18 years. While at Orange County he had the opportunity to work with an incredible parent organization, the PADRE foundation. For the last 6 years he has been working at the Stanford Medical Center. He has a long standing interest in glucose sensors, and while at Stanford has conducted a number of studies using the GlucoWatch and Minimed CGMS. He is currently the Principal Investigator at Stanford for the mulitcenter NIH trial (DirecNet) to assess the use of glucose sensors in Children.

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Bob Bulgarelli, D.O., is a cardiologist who specializes in Preventative and Integrative Cardiovascular Medicine. Bob is Director of Integrative Cardiovascular Medicine at Main Line Health System in Suburban Philadelphia. Bob is cofounder and Chief Medical Officer of, Mind Body Spirit Inc. MBS is a habit change company that addresses lifestyle change in a holistic manner. The program is geared toward (but not limited to) risk reduction for Cardiac patients, including diet, exercise, stress management, group support and spirituality amongst others. Bob did his formal training in Integrative Medicine and Cardiology with Andrew Weil MD at the University of Arizona. Bob has a particular interest in bringing his message of healthy lifestyle change to children and adolescents, and has been doing so as part of the CWD staff for several years.

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Dana Dignard, RD, CDE, has had type 1 diabetes for 24 years. She has 16 years of experience as a dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator working as a paediatric and adult educator at Centenary Health Centre in Toronto, Ontario. Two years ago, Dana had the exciting opportunity to begin working with Animas Canada as a Territory Manager in Ontario Central. She loves her new role with Animas and is looking forward to being part of the CWD family. Dana is also a busy mom to her two children Mathieu and Cassia and has all the help in the world from her husband Dan.

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Jeff Hitchcock is the creator, editor, webmaster and president of Children with Diabetes. After earning a degree in computational mathematics in 1981, Jeff worked in high tech and traveled the world, meeting Brenda, who would become his wife, in Africa. He worked in defense related industries until 1995, when he started a small Internet company and launched Children with Diabetes. He subsequently worked at LEXIS-NEXIS and Pearson plc on Internet initiatives, and now works full time bringing Children with Diabetes to you.

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Crystal Jackson is Associate Director of Legal Advocacy at the American Diabetes Association (ADA)'s National Office in Alexandria, Virginia. Her primary responsibility is managing the Association's Safe at School Campaign. Crystal is considered a national authority on the rights of students with diabetes and has spoken at conferences and forums throughout the United States and internationally on how to effectively advocate on behalf of students with diabetes, training hundreds of parent advocates, attorneys, and health care professionals. A parent of a child with diabetes, Crystal began her advocacy as a volunteer for ADA when she and another parent advocate teamed up to pass the first state diabetes school legislation in the country which provides comprehensive coverage for students with diabetes in Virginia. Simultaneously she pursued a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education resulting in a settlement that is a model for safe and effective diabetes care. Crystal is a former litigation paralegal with the Philadelphia law firm of Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel. She is a contributor to many diabetes publications including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Diabetes Education Program's school guide entitled "Helping the Student with Diabetes Succeed: A Guide for School Personnel" and the ADA's treatise on school issues: "Legal Rights of Students with Diabetes." Crystal is a member of the Virginia Diabetes Council, serves on a number of other diabetes and youth advisory boards, and was most recently appointed to Novo Nordisk's U. S. DAWN Youth Study Advisory Board. She resides in Loudoun County, VA with her family.

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Tom Karlya, Vice President of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, is commonly known throughout the diabetes community as Diabetes Dad, his pen name used virtually everywhere, including his monthly column which appears at www.dLife.com/diabetesdad. He has been active in diabetes causes since his daughter, Kaitlyn, was diagnosed in 1992 at the age of 2. Tom has been introduced to the New York State Capitol, testified in Washington, D.C., appeared at diabetes-related events at the United Nations and has lectured, taught, and chaired many conferences, panels and keynotes about being a Diabetes Dad. He also received numerous commendations for his work in the Katrina efforts where he was instrumental in organizing relief efforts to over 10,000 people with diabetes. Tom was awarded The Jeff Hitchcock Distinguished Service Award from The Children with Diabetes in 2008. For 12 years as an actor, he starred in the New York City Production of Tony 'N Tina's Wedding, working with the original NY Company and also at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C., in Summer of the 17th Doll. His film, lbs., was seen at the Sundance Film Festival, and he appeared in Unsolved Mysteries, Spin City, The Cosby Show, NYPD Blue, Law and Order, America's Most Wanted, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, and other shows as well as numerous commercials. If you ask Tom he will tell you that above everything else, he's just a CWD Dad.

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Paul B. Madden, M.Ed., is a family counselor, diabetes educator, business developer, program manager, fundraiser and advocate for people living with and at risk of diabetes. He has served in numerous leadership positions, most recently as the Director, Professional Relations & Public Advocacy for the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. Paul has chaired several national and international meetings for professionals, parents, and young people with diabetes. Paul leads advocacy issues, opens business doors and nurtures relationships to gain maximum opportunities to help ensure more focused, successful efforts for people living with diabetes and the professionals, organizations and companies supporting diabetes care and research. He touches the soul of living with diabetes for patients, their families and their professionals.


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Harold Sanco is the 1998 United States National Master's Aerobic Champion and two time bronze medalist at the National Step Challenge Competition. He has been voted Washington, DC's "Best Instructor" by Washingtonian Magazine and the Washington Post. He is an internationally acclaimed instructor having taught in seven countries. His "Urban Funk" aerobics class has been highlighted in People, Allure and "W" magazines. At CWD conference, Harold helps kids and adults learn that exercising can be fun.

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Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE, having had type 1 diabetes since 1985 and working as a Certified Diabetes Educator since 1993, knows the latest and best techniques for achieving optimal diabetes control. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Gary has authored a book and dozens of articles, and speaks at local and national meetings on diabetes, fitness and motivation. Gary received the 1997 William Martin Award for Outstanding Achievement in Patient Activities by the American Diabetes Association, as well as the 1998 Allene Van Son Award for the development of effective diabetes teaching tools by the American Association of Diabetes Educators. In 2002, he was granted the Novo Nordisk Diabetes Education Research award for the study of basal insulin levels in pump users. Gary owns and operates Integrated Diabetes Services, a private practice located just outside of Philadelphia, specializing in intensive blood glucose control and lifestyle intervention for people with diabetes.

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Jill Weissberg-Benchell, Ph.D., C.D.E., Pediatric Psychologist, Associate professor of Psychiatry, Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois. Author of numerous research articles, and a soon-to-be published book on transitioning from pediatric to adult care. Dr. Weissberg-Benchell works with children, teenagers and their families to facilitate adaptation and coping with diabetes and other chronic conditions.


Teen Faculty

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Natalie Bellini, R.N., C.D.E., has had diabetes since she was a young child and within a year of finishing nursing school started to care for people with diabetes, first focusing on high risk pregnancy and then pediatrics and insulin-requiring adults. She has lectured both nationally and internationally to clinicians, patients and their families. Natalie has worked with children and adults of all ages and has assisted in initiating and expanding pump programs at numerous hospitals and private practices. She is currently a Clinical Sales Specialist with Ethicon, a division of Johnson and Johnson. She enjoys working with children and teens, and has a second full-time job as mom to her daughter, Erin, who is now in college.

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Dana Dignard, RD, CDE, has had type 1 diabetes for 24 years. She has 16 years of experience as a dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator working as a paediatric and adult educator at Centenary Health Centre in Toronto, Ontario. Two years ago, Dana had the exciting opportunity to begin working with Animas Canada as a Territory Manager in Ontario Central. She loves her new role with Animas and is looking forward to being part of the CWD family. Dana is also a busy mom to her two children Mathieu and Cassia and has all the help in the world from her husband Dan.

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Galen Horton was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 15. That summer, at the direction of his healthcare team, he attended a camp in North Carolina for children with diabetes. For the last 22 summers Galen has attended Camp Carolina Trails, working his way up through the program staff. Over the last 15 years, Galen has been a program director for the teenagers at Carolina Trails working to develop leadership and communication skills, fostering a positive mental attitude, and encouraging a strong sense of self-confidence and motivation for his campers through challenging, high adventure programs. Nearly 8 years ago, Galen joined the sales organization at Animas Corporation to marry his work life and his personal passion and commitment for helping others cope with their diabetes. Galen lives in North Carolina with his wife, Kelly, and his 3 children, Tanner, Riley, and Eli.

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Tom Karlya, Vice President of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, is commonly known throughout the diabetes community as Diabetes Dad, his pen name used virtually everywhere, including his monthly column which appears at www.dLife.com/diabetesdad. He has been active in diabetes causes since his daughter, Kaitlyn, was diagnosed in 1992 at the age of 2. Tom has been introduced to the New York State Capitol, testified in Washington, D.C., appeared at diabetes-related events at the United Nations and has lectured, taught, and chaired many conferences, panels and keynotes about being a Diabetes Dad. He also received numerous commendations for his work in the Katrina efforts where he was instrumental in organizing relief efforts to over 10,000 people with diabetes. Tom was awarded The Jeff Hitchcock Distinguished Service Award from The Children with Diabetes in 2008. For 12 years as an actor, he starred in the New York City Production of Tony 'N Tina's Wedding, working with the original NY Company and also at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C., in Summer of the 17th Doll. His film, lbs., was seen at the Sundance Film Festival, and he appeared in Unsolved Mysteries, Spin City, The Cosby Show, NYPD Blue, Law and Order, America's Most Wanted, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, and other shows as well as numerous commercials. If you ask Tom he will tell you that above everything else, he's just a CWD Dad.

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Chris Tull is first and foremost Trevor's dad and Bernadette's husband. Since Trevor's diagnosis in late 2002, Chris served as a Legislative Chair and Diabetes Advocate, lobbying in his local districts and on Capitol Hill for diabetes funding and awareness. After attending his first CWD conference in 2003, Chris became very involved with CWD conferences, serving as staff for the teen program and overseeing all security matters for each and every conference. His diabetes claim to fame? In his eagerness to remove the air bubbles from Trevor's syringe the first time he gave a shot, he flicked it so hard that he bent the needle, causing his son to proclaim, "Oh, Dad's going to be good at this!" Chris is a police officer in Virginia Beach, and a former Marine.

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Jim Vail was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 19 while he was a sophomore at the State University of New York at Fredonia. Jim graduated with a degree in Media Communications and was a producer for CNBC Business news in Washington, D.C., for nine years all the while wrestling with the unpredictability of NPH and Regular insulin. After finally going on a pump in October of 2001 and 'getting his life back,' Jim pursued Animas Corporation, the maker of his insulin pump, for a job and a chance to reach others with diabetes. Jim made the jump from CNBC and has been with Animas Corporation since April 2002.

Tween Faculty

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Anne Sides, RD, CDE, is all about diabetes. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of six, and since then she has lived her passion of helping people, especially children with diabetes, understand the disease and effectively manage it to improve the quality of their lives. Since 1994, Anne served as a diabetes educator and dietitian for hospital systems in both Alabama and Mississippi, where she contributed to the care of hundreds of children, teens, and adults with diabetes. Anne now works with Animas Corporation and serves as territory manager for this region. Anne serves as a member of the board of directors of the Southeastern Diabetes Education Services (SDES), and was chosen by Animas to be a part of its task force for the development and innovation of new diabetes products and technology. It is Anne's work and special connection with children with diabetes that is the most gratifying and exciting for her, and which leads her each year to do volunteer work with several diabetes-related groups and organizations. This includes serving on the faculty of Camp Seale Harris, a residential diabetes education program held annually at Camp ASCCA near Alexander City, Alabama. Anne and her husband, Terry, reside in Birmingham.

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Sunshine Abel is the mother of two beautiful girls, Sierra and Saylor. She attended her first CWD conference with her family in 2002, after Saylor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Ever since then, Sunshine knew she had found a new family and a new home where kids were experiencing the same thing as Saylor. She then made it her mission to involve her whole family, including her Aunt Libby. Sunshine, husband Justin, and Aunt Libby all have volunteered for several years at Friends for Life conferences. Sunshine is currently working on an RN degree.


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Justin Abel attended his first CWD conference in 2002 after his daughter Saylor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in December 2001. Once he started attending more CWD conferences, his wife Sunshine did not have to twist his arm for him to realize he wanted to get more involved. He is also dad to Sierra, who is a teen volunteer with CWD.


Elementary Faculty

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Lauren Lanning, mom of Monica, 15, dx 8/96, pumping 5/99, CGM 9/06, and Sarah, 13 ... her CWD "sig line." Lauren became involved with CWD shortly after her daughter was diagnosed in 1996. She has been involved in the CWD diabetes conferences since the very first gathering in Orlando in 2000, where she volunteered to make name badges. Lauren now coordinates the Elementary Programming for every CWD conference. She has been involved in the diabetes community as an advocate for the ADA and JDRF and the Gray Ribbon Campaign. Lauren spoke to the FDA on behalf of parents everywhere, and helped get CGM technology into the hands of the patients. Since then, she has spoken to many groups about CGM technology in real life. Lauren has held executive positions on the JDRF and Children With Diabetes Foundation boards. She is involved in her local Denver diabetes community outreach, and has coordinated her local JDRF bicycle team for many years. She was a Member of the Technical Staff at AT&T Labs before moving to Colorado and becoming full-time mom for a few years. Lauren now works at an investment banking firm as a researcher.

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Michelle Rago is a CWD mom and active member of the parents' list. She graduated from Harvard University (magna cum laude) where she received the Ben Teel Memorial Prize for Public Service. She graduated from Columbia University School of Law, where she represented children in foster care and received a Charles Evans Hughes Fellowship for public service. Michelle's son Trent was diagnosed in 2000 at age 4. Due to the diagnosis, Trent's daycare would not accept him back. Since then, Michelle has become well versed in the changing laws with relation to diabetes and school, insurance coverage, and discrimination on account of diabetes. She is active with the American Diabetes Association Legal Advocacy group. Michelle has recently become an expert on monogenic diabetes, after it was discovered that her adopted daughter Maya had monogenic, not Type 1, diabetes. (Michelle's family adopted Maya from foster care after hearing about her at a CWD conference.) Michelle is also mom to Michela and husband to Tim, both of whom actively participate in diabetes care at home. For her work with CWD families, Michelle was awarded the Jeff Hitchcock Distinguished Service Award in 2006.

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Intissar Ben Halim is mom to Maryam, Zakariyya, Abdalla, and Yaseen, and wife to Nabil. She and her family been involved with CWD conferences since 2004. She enjoys meeting other CWD parents and families and sharing stories and challenges, especially now that she has two teens. She and her family reside in King-of-Prussia, Pennsylvania.

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Sam Billetdeaux, diagnosed at age 8, is determined that diabetes will never get in the way of his life dreams. Sam is an active member of the CWD Young Adult program and has traveled to Denmark, Italy, the UK, and all across the United States to exchange ideas with other CWD teens, young adults, and their families. Sam is an avid athlete and enjoys running and working out with friends. He is a junior in college studying Spanish and the environment.

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Marty Moore, MS, has been part of the diabetes community for more than 20 years. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 16, he refused to let the disease alter his life. With the help of family and friends, he continued to participate and excel in academics, athletics and other school activities. After college, Marty joined the Minneapolis office of the American Diabetes Association. He left to pursue his graduate degree in communications, but the diabetes community was never far from his mind. He currently works as a Marketing Consultant at Bolin Marketing with clients in diabetes-related and healthy living organizations. After more than two decades with diabetes, Marty has decided to start using a pump and continuous glucose monitor. He has never lost his passion for fighting diabetes, and works to properly manage the disease on a daily basis.

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Heather Speer is a CWD mom and CDE who has worked tirelessly for the last 18 years with thousands of families who have children with type 1 diabetes. She has served as coordinator of the PADRE Foundation's Fashion Show, Golf Tournament, Teen Surf and Snowboard Camps and Family Social events. She has developed education and support programs for kids with diabetes and their families. Heather instituted an emergency kit program for all newly diagnosed children at Children's Hospital Orange County when her daughter Stephanie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 3 in 1990. Heather joined the CWD Ask the Diabetes Team in 1996. She lives with her husband Steve in Newport Beach, California and continues to work with children and families at CHOC.

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Trevor Tull was diagnosed six years ago at age 13. He has never let diabetes "get in the way" of his goals and dreams. He has participated in the CWD Teen Discussion Panel and CWD Sports Central and continues to participate in the Young Adult Program, Elementary Staff, and successfully raised over $15,000 for JDRF Fundraising Walks. Trevor is an avid roller hockey player, body boarder, and off-road motorcycle riding enthusiast. He is currently in college studying Welding Technology and works part-time.

Childcare

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Mary Babin, RN, BSN, CDE is one of the first clinical employees at Animas Corporation and the first coordinator of childcare for the little ones at the CWD conferences. Mary leads a team of certified diabetes educators providing childcare in a safe environment for kids under age six with and without diabetes. Providing this service alleviates the concerns of many parents of kids with diabetes – allowing them to attend the sessions with peace of mind knowing that their children are cared for by skilled professionals. This supports Mary’s belief that education is the key to successful blood glucose management. As Executive Director of Clinical and Patient Services at Animas, she is responsible for overseeing pump educators and the pump support team throughout the US. Mary has devoted her career to the world of medicine. As a graduate of Eastern University and Presbyterian School of Nursing, Mary has been in intensive care nursing for over 25 years and a Certified Diabetes Educator for 10. This busy mom and devoted professional has been involved with CWD since 2001. You can spot her at the conferences-she’s the one with the trail of kids behind her!

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Kelsey Martin, age 19, was diagnosed at age 12. She attended her first CWD conference two months later, and has since become an active volunteer. Kelsey has worked with first timers, tweens, and elementary-age children at CWD conferences. She is also active in her local chapter of JDRF as an ambassador and volunteer. Kelsey is a journalism major at the University of Missouri and hopes to work in public relations or advertising for a medical company in the future.


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Cindy Webb, aka Grandma Cindy, attended her first CWD conference in July 2003. Just three months prior, in March 2003, her oldest granddaughter, Ashley, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of three. When a friend emailed her the CWD website, Cindy and family immediately registered for the 2003 Orlando conference and took the opportunity to connect with other CWD families. Their goal was to meet others who were going through what they were, while learning all they could about diabetes and how to deal with all the areas of life and family it affects. They have been to every Friends for Life conference and many CWD regional events since 2003. As secondary caregiver for Ashley, Grandma Cindy is directly involved with Ashley's medical care and diabetes management. An accountant by trade, Grandma Cindy has always been interested in the medical field and is currently taking pre-Nursing courses.

Special Guest

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Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002, Sébastien Sasseville became the first Canadian with diabetes to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 25th 2008. He is also one of only three people with diabetes in the world to have climbed the highest peak on the planet. In 2005, Sasseville took with him a group of 9 teens with diabetes to the summit of the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro. The ambitious project turned into a world premiere and inspired hundreds of thousands of people. In the summer of 2007, he then lead a group of young adults also living with type 1 diabetes on a 2 weeks long trek to Mount Everest Base Camp. All together, the projects raised over $175, 000 for research. Now residing Montreal, he obtained a degree in Public Relations shortly after his diagnostic. Climber and world adventurer, he has ever since been an advocate for the disease and has dedicated his career to raise awareness about diabetes. Only 29 years old, he has already impacted the life of hundreds of thousands of people via his conferences, expeditions and TV appearances. Sebastien Sasseville is a powerful and charismatic speaker. He forces to profound reflections, challenges conceptions and causes any audience to take action. While captivating listeners with thrilling stories, he uncovers hidden dimensions of diabetes and offers a journey that will take you back to the very first step of its treatment, and arguably the only cure, the acceptance.

CWD Staff

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Jeff Hitchcock is the creator, editor, webmaster and president of Children with Diabetes. After earning a degree in computational mathematics in 1981, Jeff worked in high tech and traveled the world, meeting Brenda, who would become his wife, in Africa. He worked in defense related industries until 1995, when he started a small Internet company and launched Children with Diabetes. He subsequently worked at LEXIS-NEXIS and Pearson plc on Internet initiatives, and now works full time bringing Children with Diabetes to you.

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A finicky connoisseur of hotel meeting space, cappuccino, and kid-friendly cheese and fruit platters, Laura Billetdeaux is CWD's VP of Education and Programs. Since 2000, Laura has organized every single CWD conference, always keeping in mind the true purpose of CWD - education and support of families with type 1, and always keeping in mind why it all works – the efforts of so many dedicated individuals. Laura lives in Manchester, Michigan with husband Neal, who graciously and energetically assists with the conference teen programs. They are parents of Sam and Carolyn who both attend universities and serve as youth faculty at CWD conferences as time allows.

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Mike Schurig, MS, RD, LD, CDE, serves as Conferences and Content Manager for Children With Diabetes. As a diabetes educator, registered dietitian and person with type 1 diabetes since the age of 12, Mike has had extensive experience in diabetes education with kids and parents. Mike is active with local ADA activities, regional diabetes educator groups, and the CWD website. His interests are insulin pump education and technical advances in diabetes. Mike enjoys visiting the nearby theme parks and enjoying Central Florida with his wife Gayle and his daughter Allyson.

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Julia Mattingly is mom to 13 year old Hannah and 11 year old Ethan, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 10 months and who started pumping when he was 3. Julia, Ed, and the kids have been to every single Friends for Life conference and most of the regionals as well! Julia coordinates registration at each conference, and you can always find her when you need a smile and a "Hi Y'All!" Julia loves being in charge of the registration area because she gets to meet everyone who walks in the door. Her best CWD memory is from 2001 when she met all of her CWD email buddies in Orlando for the first time. She also loves to see the smiles on her kids' faces when they re-connect with their CWD friends each summer.

CWD's Focus on Technology Conference in Chicago is Sponsored By:
Abbott Diabetes Care Animas Corporation OmniPod LifeScan Novo Nordisk ACCU-CHEK sanofi-aventis


Chicago 2009: Focus on Technology
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Last Updated: Saturday April 18, 2009 15:51:54
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