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  Back to Seattle 2009 Conference Seattle 2009 Faculty and Staff

Conference Faculty

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Natalie Bellini, RN, CDE, has had Type 1 diabetes since she was a young child. Within a year of finishing nursing school, she started to care for people with diabetes, focusing first on diabetes in pregnancy then pediatrics and insulin requiring adults. She has worked on the medical side of camps for children and teens in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. She has spoken nationally and internationally as an expert in both working with teens and their parents with diabetes as well as infusion set choice, usage and maintenance. Her fundamental goal when developing the teenage curriculum for Children with Diabetes conferences is that each and every teen that attends finds a passion in life and pursues it. She is currently attending Drexel University part time in order to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. Natalie is a senior territory manager with Animas Corporation and mom to her own teen, Erin, who is now a sophomore in college.

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Dr. Irl Hirsch is a professor of medicine and holds the Diabetes Treatment and Teaching Chair at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. Dr. Hirsch has been interested in new technologies for the treatment of diabetes, particularly those involved in the use of insulin therapy. He has also been interested in the mechanisms of how insulin co-modulates inflammation with glucose and how this results in improvements in outcomes, particularly of hospitalized patients. The management of hyperglycemia in the hospital has been an interest of Dr. Hirsch for over 20 years. He is involved in numerous clinical research trials, including two completed trials on continuous sensor technology in type 1 diabetes. He also is interested in the use of computers in diabetes data management, and how pattern recognition can be used to improve diabetes control, in addition to how glycemic variability noted on glucose meter downloads may be an independent risk for microvascular complications. He has a very active clinical practice of which 80% of patients have type 1 diabetes. He has authored over 80 papers including a review of insulin in the New England Journal of Medicine, 30 editorials, numerous book chapters, and four books both for patients and physicians. He is the past editor-in-chief of DOC News and Clinical Diabetes.


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Lauren Lanning, mom of Monica, 15, dx 8/96, pumping 5/99, CGM 9/05, 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. Back home in Denver, she is on the boards of the JDRF and CWD Foundation. She and her husband Steve have chaired and coached her local JDRF Ride team for many years. Lauren has worked as an elementary school computer teacher and 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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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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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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Joe Solowiejczyk, RN, MSW, was President of InBalance Healthcare, a counseling and education service for health care professionals and adults and children with diabetes, for over 10 years. For the past 3 years he worked for the Animas Corporation as Clinical Manager of Counseling & Presentations. In this capacity, he presented nationally on The Family Approach, saw patients and their families in key accounts as well as providing training and supervision for clinicians interested in learning about The Family Approach. Most recently he was invited to be on the faculty at the Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Institute and transitioned over to LifeScan, working with the Global Strategic Affairs Group. A healthcare professional who has lived with Type 1 diabetes for over 40 years, Mr. Solowiejczyk has been able to translate his personal experience into patient care. As a diabetes nurse educator and family therapist, he specializes in assessing how family dynamics impact management of diabetes and designing interventions that result in more effective coping and optimal metabolic control.


Teen Faculty

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Natalie Bellini, RN, CDE, has had Type 1 diabetes since she was a young child. Within a year of finishing nursing school, she started to care for people with diabetes, focusing first on diabetes in pregnancy then pediatrics and insulin requiring adults. She has worked on the medical side of camps for children and teens in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. She has spoken nationally and internationally as an expert in both working with teens and their parents with diabetes as well as infusion set choice, usage and maintenance. Her fundamental goal when developing the teenage curriculum for Children with Diabetes conferences is that each and every teen that attends finds a passion in life and pursues it. She is currently attending Drexel University part time in order to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. Natalie is a senior territory manager with Animas Corporation and mom to her own teen, Erin, who is now a sophomore in college.

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Marissa Hitchcock, BSN, RN, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 24 months old. She has just completed her bachelor of science in nursing and is looking forward to being a pediatric diabetes nurse specialist. She loves working with kids who have diabetes. Marissa brings her experiences as a diabetes camp counselor, nurse, and young adult with diabetes as she works with kids and teens at CWD's conferences.

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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.

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Scott K. Scolnick, MEd, is the Regional Manager for the SE US with Animas Corporation. He has had type 1 diabetes since 1975. Scott has been on a pump since 1996. Prior to his work with Animas, Scott received his Masters in Counseling Psychology and has Post Masters Training in Marriage and Family Therapy. He was a marriage and family therapist from 1985-1988. Scott developed and ran Child Adolescent Inpatient and Community based treatment programs from 1988-2000 in Virginia, Indianapolis, Texas, New Mexico, Greater Philadelphia area and Upstate New York. He specializes in using creativity and the imagination in problem solving and decision making. Scott believes in the ideas of empowerment and catching people doing right. He likes to challenge the way in which people think and act in order to help people thrive with diabetes.


Tween Faculty

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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.


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Kim Kelly, Pharm. D., BCPS, FCCP, is President of Kelly Diabetes Associates, and former Director of the Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Institute-North America. Dr. Kelly has a lengthy and distinguished career involving patient care, academic medicine, and organizational involvement including President of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, Chairman of the ACCP Research Institute, and Board of Directors of the Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association. His research and experience have included a number of publications, participation on editorial boards and review panels of several journals, involvement in medical curriculum development, and various committees of professional organizations. Currently, his activities center around developing diabetes health management and educational programs for various health care providers and provider organizations. Delighted to work with children and teens alike, Dr. Kelly participated as a volunteer in the Orlando and Universal City Friends for Life conferences, where he became 'hooked' in working with the wonderful CWD kids and families. He joined CWD as 'regular faculty' in 2004, focusing on the Tween programming and providing presentations on various topics to parents as well.

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Melissa Ringley, RN, CDE, became a registered nurse in 1991. Shortly afterward, Elizabeth, her 3 year old daughter, was diagnosed with diabetes. It became abundantly clear to Melissa that she should learn all she could to help her daughter maintain a healthy and happy life with diabetes. Melissa has dedicated her entire career to diabetes since that moment. She brings her own personal experience to CWD families and understands the many stages of development and how diabetes impacts both the patient and family. Melissa's previous career as a certified diabetes educator has included a variety of settings including diabetes education centers, multi-physician practices, and hospitals. Melissa's expertise is in insulin pump therapy in children. She has been working with Animas Corporation since 2001. At Animas, she has worked both nationally and internationally as a clinical manager and she is now a Territory Manager in Tennessee. Her daughter is now a junior in college.

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Jim Stone's son Andrew was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1998 when he was 20 months old. Jim and his wife Julia have been involved in diabetes advocacy and outreach ever since. The Stone family enjoys all CWD conferences, especially the regional and local events. Jim is currently active in the effort to improve school diabetes care in California. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and has a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering from Stanford University. Jim was an Army officer for 22 years, and now works as a public works manager for the City of Manteca, California. Jim is a Boy Scout leader and teaches tweens in Sunday School at his church.

Elementary Faculty

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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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Lauren Lanning, mom of Monica, 15, dx 8/96, pumping 5/99, CGM 9/05, 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. Back home in Denver, she is on the boards of the JDRF and CWD Foundation. She and her husband Steve have chaired and coached her local JDRF Ride team for many years. Lauren has worked as an elementary school computer teacher and 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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Nick Reiersgard is 22 years old and has had diabetes for 9 years. He is a fourth year student at Pacific Lutheran University in Washington State, studying recreation management. Nick attended his very first Friends for Life conference in 2008 and is happy to be back and volunteering with the FFL kids this year!

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Janet Schneeman has been a certified diabetes educator for many years, working at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital for the last nine of them. She asserts that even with 22 years of CDE experience, she has learned the most about diabetes by being the mom of a teen with type 1. Janet's favorite activities include drinking coffee, visiting with friends and family, and boating. She is well-known for her crazy songs, sense of humor, and helping families feel better about a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Janet has attended three Friends for Life conferences in Orlando, and looks forward to being staff this year. She lives in Gig Harbor, Washington, with her husband and two children.

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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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Georgia Spiropoulos is Alexa's Mom. Alexa was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 14 months old. Over the past 12 years, Georgia and her husband have watched the diabetes at every developmental stage of Alexa's life. Their most important lesson in this journey was realizing "Alexa will learn how to deal with her diabetes from you." That light bulb moment changed their lives and their advocacy work began. Georgia's volunteer efforts include JDRF fundraising, government advocacy and outreach. She volunteers at the local children's hospital helping newly diagnosed children and their families understand the road ahead. She created outreach programs of support and information sharing within the community. Georgia states, "the feeling of isolation can be overwhelming and that is what I am trying to help families minimize. We love this Friends for Life conference; this will be our third year. This is the week Alexa feels normal and does not have to explain to anyone why she is poking her finger."


Childcare

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Alanna Chambers, RD, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 9, just shortly after her older sister's diagnosis. From a young age, she knew that she wanted to go into a health profession field so that she could work with other families with diabetes. She completed her dietetics degree at McGill University in Montreal and has been following her dream ever since. Alanna is a registered dietitian and now works with Animas Canada as a Territory Manager in British Columbia. She loves every opportunity she can get to work with kids including volunteering at the diabetes summer camps and at CWD. Alanna is happy to ensure that the little ones are in good care and have a great time while at CWD.


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Mark Chambers, PhC is happy to be involved as a newcomer to the CWD team. He is a graduate of Dalhousie University in Halifax and is currently working as a community pharmacist in Kelowna, British Columbia. Mark has always enjoyed getting involved and volunteering in many diabetes related events as his wife has type 1. He is thrilled to be working in childcare and looks forward to ensuring that each CWD conference is both fun and memorable for your children!

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 Seattle is Sponsored By:
Abbott Diabetes Care Animas Corporation OmniPod LifeScan Novo Nordisk ACCU-CHEK sanofi-aventis


Seattle 2009: Focus on Technology
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Last Updated: Thursday November 05, 2009 10:59:44
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