The Conference Faculty
Korey Hood, PhD, is Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Staff Psychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. Dr. Hood directs NIH-funded research projects and provides clinical care aimed at promoting health and quality of life outcomes in youth with diabetes and their families. He also serves on several national committees for the ADA and is on editorial boards for Diabetes Care and the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Dr. Hood is the author of a recent book entitled Type 1 Teens: A Guide to Managing Your Life with Diabetes. His research, clinical care, and service are fueled by his personal experience with type 1 diabetes. He was diagnosed as a young adult and has spent more than a decade managing diabetes. He is passionate about helping children and teens with diabetes, and their families, make diabetes a part of their lives while not letting it run their lives.
Andrea R Hulke, MSW, is Director of National Outreach for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation headquartered in New York. Prior to joining the National staff of JDRF, Andrea worked for over 5 years in JDRF's chapters, first as a chapter volunteer then as staff in Saint Louis and later in Piedmont Triad, North Carolina Chapters. Andrea was JDRF's very first Chapter Outreach Manager in the country, starting the program in just two chapters and now managing the local programs in all 110 JDRF Chapters and branches. In addition, Andrea manages the development and implementation of JDRF's National type 1 patient resources and support programs. Her goal is to provide information and resources about type 1 diabetes, diabetes research, and how best to manage and cope with this disease during each new phase of life. Andrea is committed to providing personalized support and resources to families, adults and their caregivers; to ultimately improve lives for those living with type 1, specifically her father and brother who live the disease.
Scott K. Johnson was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in April of 1980. He has been writing about his struggles and successes with diabetes since late 2004. Currently blogging at Diabetes Daily, and contributing to many diabetes related projects, Scott stays busy connecting with others living with diabetes. Scott works full time as a freelance writer and diabetes consultant, and says "I'm your average guy living with type 1 diabetes. I don't have it all figured out, and sharing my struggles with diabetes helps by showing people that it is Ok to still be trying to get it right, even after 30+ years." Scott lives with his family near the Minneapolis, MN area.
Paul Madden, M.Ed., has served as Friends for Life faculty for the past 10 years. Paul is an accomplished author and speaker serving in numerous leadership roles on national and international boards, including the American Association of Diabetes Educators, the Diabetes Exercise and Sports Association, the International Diabetes Federation, the American Diabetes Association, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Paul developed and served in numerous new leadership roles at Joslin Diabetes Center a Harvard Medical School Affiliate including Special Assistant to the President, behavioral medicine, corporate development, advocacy, exercise, and camp administrator/director. Creating new winning solutions that create value and growth for organizations and the people being served is what Paul does best. He empowers, educates and inspires people to explore and adopt healthier lifestyles. Paul touches the soul of the people he works with enabling them to address the challenges of life more fully and positively! He currently is the Director of Advocacy and Education/Empowerment at PepsiCo Global Nutrition/R&D. Paul has had type 1 diabetes for 50 years.
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. He currently works for LifeScan, as Manager of Diabetes Counseling & Training and is a faculty member of the Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Institute. Joe is healthcare professional who has lived with Type 1 diabetes for over 49 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.
Kerri Sparling was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in September of 1986 and lives by the mantra "Diabetes doesn't define me, but it helps explain me." Creator and editor of the diabetes blog, SixUntilMe.com, she has contributed to many diabetes-related websites and publications, and is a passionate advocate for diabetes awareness. An expert in social media and its influence on patients, Kerri presents regularly at new media conferences and currently works full-time as a freelance writer and social media consultant. Kerri lives in Rhode Island with her husband Chris, their daughter, and a small army of cats.
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.
The Teen Faculty
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 junior in college.
Neal Billetdeaux, from Michigan, has learned to be a diabetes advocate from kids Carolyn and Sam. His most frequent complaint to wife, Laura, is that he doesn't have enough vacation time to make it to all the CWD conferences! Neal is a principal in a landscape architecture firm in Ann Arbor. His CWD 'claim to fame' is that - in a sleep-deprived stupor one night - he awoke to his alarm at 2 a.m. and tried to test one of the yellow labs. He's a great dad with a great sense of humor!
Jeff Schmidt is dad to Brandon and Rhiannon, husband to Brandy, and "Schmidty" to the CWD teens. Jeff has been a Marine for the last 16 years and is currently stationed in North Carolina. Jeff has served as CWD staff for several years (since the family attended their first conference), working with both the tween and teen groups. He also has been an advocate for military families receiving the assistance they need. Jeff loves working with the kids at CWD conferences and is continually amazed by their strength and determination.
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.
The Tween Faculty
Born in Cleveland, Ohio during the time of the burning of the great Cuyahoga River, Neil Benchell loves to make children laugh. He attended the Family Support Weekend last year for the first time as the spouse of one of the faculty members, but was so lonely roaming the beach by himself that he decided to help with the tweens this year. No doubt he’ll have much more fun than the kids. In his spare time, Neil tries his hand at being a patent litigator.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Carolyn Billetdeaux graduated from NYU with a degree in international business and Spanish and currently works as a sustainability consultant. She is older sister to Sam, who has had diabetes for over 13 years. Carolyn presents type 1 diabetes as a family disease: it affects everyone. She was a founding member of IDYA and founded the Supplies branch of the Children with Diabetes Foundation in 2003. She loves traveling and meeting other CWD families.
Adam Town, BSN, RN, graduated from the University of Cincinnati's nursing program in 2009. Adam enjoys working with all children and is interested in pediatric nursing. He lives in Tampa and works at Tampa General Hospital. Adam enjoys sports of all kinds with a particular interest in baseball. Adam has a family history of diabetes but does not have diabetes himself.
The Elementary Faculty
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 in college studying Spanish and the environment.
Marissa Hitchcock, BSN, RN, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 24 months old. She completed her bachelor of science in nursing in 2009 and works as a nurse in Tampa, Florida. 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.
Lauren Lanning, mom of Monica, 16, dx 8/96, pumping 5/99, CGM 9/05, and Sarah, 14 ... 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 has served 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 The Children’s Diabetes Foundation at Denver as the IT Manager.
Kelsey Martin was diagnosed with diabetes 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, and was the sole Kansas representative at the 2007 Children's Congress. Kelsey continues to be an advocate as she studies journalism and business in college.
Carolyn Meredith is mom to Chelsea, Jeremy, and Bailey and wife to Rich. Jeremy was diagnosed with diabetes in May 2000 at the age of 6. He started on an insulin pump in October 2002. Carolyn and her family attended their first Friends for Life conference in 2003 and have been involved with CWD ever since. They have also attended several regional conferences. When not running mom's taxi service, Carolyn works in the office at an elementary school in St. Petersburg, Florida. She enjoys meeting and sharing with other CWD families.
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!
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.
Brandy Schmidt is Jeff's wife (Schmidty to the teens) and mother of two, Brandon, dx'd in 1997, and Rhiannon, dx'd 2009. When Brandon was diagnosed, Brandy came home from the hospital and found CWD on the first search. She has been addicted to CWD since then. She has been an advocate for all military families dealing with diabetes. She helped implement a gluten free policy in San Diego county public schools when Brandon was diagnosed with celiac in 2005. She has been dubbed the "Gluten Free Police" at conferences. Brandy now lives in North Carolina with her husband, two kids, four dogs and a bearded dragon!
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
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.
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.
Brenda Hitchcock is mom to Marissa (dx'd at 24 months), Kathryn, and Tim. She's worked side by side with her husband Jeff on Children with Diabetes since it began in 1995. Brenda brings a mom's perspective to diabetes care, is editor of the "Ask the Diabetes Team" section of the CWD web site, and helps out in countless ways at CWD's conferences.
Julia Mattingly is mom to 15 year old Hannah and 13 year old Ethan, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 10 months and 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 coordinating registration and being able to meet and talk to 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 children’s faces when they re-connect with their CWD friends each summer.
Marco Island 2011 Conference Conference Intro - Faculty - Program - Youth Program - Registration Report from Marco 2010 - Marco 2009 - Marco 2008 - Marco 2007
Last Updated: Monday February 24, 2014 14:36:34
This Internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult with a physician or other health care professional.
This site is published by T-1 Today, Inc. (d/b/a Children with Diabetes), a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which is responsible for its contents. Our mission is to provide education and support to families living with type 1 diabetes.
© Children with Diabetes, Inc. 1995-2018. Comments and Feedback.