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About the CWD Fellows Program

The CWD Fellows Program at Friends for Life® Orlando gives health care professionals who are beginning their careers an opportunity to see what type 1 diabetes is really like by spending a week with Friends for Life® families. By exposing our Fellows to every aspect of life with type 1, from morning highs and lows to exercise-induced hypos to the emotional impact of a blood glucose reading that doesn't match expectations, we hope to help them bring greater understanding and compassion to the families who they will serve in their career. Our deepest thanks to Dexcom, Insulet, and Novo Nordisk for their inspired support for this transformational program.

2018 Fellow Mentors


Lindsay Anderson, MA, is currently a pediatric psychology intern at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and will be starting her clinical psychology fellowship at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago in July 2017 with a focus in diabetes. She is completing her PhD at Duke University, where she has studied interventions to promote adherence, cognitive functioning, and quality of life among youth and adolescents with chronic illness. Lindsay is particularly interested in the family and individual factors that promote adaptive functioning and the ways in which we can use innovative technology to help further support adherence, illness self-management, and overall quality of life. Lindsay is thrilled to be joining the Friends for Life® conference this year in Orlando to participate as a fellow.


Giovanna Beauchamp, MD, is in the final stages of completing her fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology at the University of Florida. Diagnosed at age eight, Dr. Gio has been living with type 1 diabetes for more than 20 years and it has fueled her desire to work with children, adolescents, and young adults with type 1 diabetes. Gio was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She received a B.S. in Social Sciences from Boston College, attended medical school at the University Of Puerto Rico School Of Medicine, and did her residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. Her publications include "Can we prevent type 1 diabetes?", a review paper on the current and past studies about type 1 diabetes prevention and a paper, published in Diabetes Care on her research regarding the screening guidelines for diabetic retinopathy. She lists diabetes camp as one of her favorite things and moving forward, she'll be exploring the transition of diabetes from pediatric to adult care as she joins the faculty of the University of Alabama at Birmingham this fall. She was a first time attendee at Friends for Life Orlando last year, and is extremely excited to come back as a mentor!


Laura Jacobsen, MD, is a third year pediatric endocrinology fellow at the University of Florida. Laura is a native Floridian and completed her undergraduate degrees and medical school at the University of Florida before going to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill for pediatric residency. She is planning a career as a physician scientist—taking care of pediatric endocrine and diabetes patients and doing type 1 diabetes research. Laura’s research interests include intervention and prevention clinical trials in type 1 diabetes in addition to translational research and technology trials such as the artificial pancreas. She also works with the Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes (nPOD) at the University of Florida searching to understand better what causes type 1 diabetes. Laura has been involved with many amazing organizations and research consortiums related to type 1 diabetes including TrialNet, TEDDY, and the T1D Exchange. In her time as a fellow she has published three first-author manuscripts and six overall in the field of type 1 diabetes and she is also currently studying a retinal camera to improve screening for diabetic retinopathy. She is a member of the American Diabetes Association and the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes and has enjoyed volunteering at the Florida Diabetes Camps.


Erica Lee Kline, BSN, RN, CDE, currently practices as a Certified Diabetes Educator, Registered Nurse at Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles, California. She received her Nursing Degree from Texas Woman's University, in 2001 and became a Certified Diabetes Educator in 2011. She is an active member of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Erica attended Children with Diabetes Friends for Life as a new Fellow last year, and had a transformational experience that impacted her career by creating a renewed compassion and understanding for her patients and their families. She looks forward to being a Mentoring Fellow this year and witnessing the amazing impact this conference will have on us once again as well as the new Fellows.


Leena Shahla, MD, is an adult third year fellow at UMASS in Worcester, MA. In her role as a CWD Fellow, Dr. Shahla is eager to learn about the challenges of living with type 1 diabetes from CWD families. She currently has experience working with adults with endocrine diseases and looks forward to Friends for Life® Orlando expanding her knowledge base and helping her to develop experience working with adolescents and pre-adolescents. Dr. Shahla is thrilled to be part of the 2018 CWD Fellows Program at Friends for Life® Orlando.


Anthony Vesco, PhD is currently a clinical psychology fellow at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. He received his PhD from The Ohio State University in 2016. Anthony has specific interests in mood disorders in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes and is particularly interested in research and clinical programs that emphasize family-based models of treatment. Anthony enjoys working with families in building their support networks for diabetes and in helping families to communicate more openly and effectively about diabetes as a means of lessening the likelihood of argument and conflict regarding diabetes. Anthony is excited to be participating in the Friends for Life Orlando conference this year as a fellows’ mentor.

2018 Fellows


Nicole Coles MD, FRCPC, is a third year Paediatric Endocrine Fellow at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. She is also currently completing a Master's degree researching the impact of maternal gestational diabetes on insulin resistance in their offspring. She has an interest in quality improvement initiatives and development of patient education materials for children and families with type 1 diabetes. Nicole grew up in Toronto and completed her Bachelor of Science degree at McGill University. She finished medical school at the University of Toronto and her pediatric residency at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. She will finish her fellowship and transition to independent practice in July 2018. This is her first year participating in the Friends for Life Fellowship program and is excited about the opportunity.


Sonalee Ravi, MD, is a third year pediatric endocrinology fellow at the University of Colorado completing her training at the Children's Hospital of Colorado and the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes. Sonalee is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and completed her undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis and her medical school and pediatric residency at Saint Louis University. She is currently planning a clinical career in pediatric endocrinology and diabetes. Sonalee's research interests center around patient and family education in type 1 diabetes. She has worked on a quality improvement project to improve family knowledge and confidence in home sick-day management to avoid ED visits and hospitalizations for DKA. Her main fellowship project is a reeducation project to see if teens change knowledge and self-care practices after receiving interactive text messages. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Diabetes Association, the Endocrine Society, and the Pediatric Endocrine Society and also serves on the education committee of the Pediatric Endocrine Society in the diabetes education sub-committee. She has also enjoyed volunteering for the ADA Camp Colorado 2017 as a member of the senior medical staff.


Sarah Westen, PhD, is a pediatric psychology fellow in the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Florida (UF), where she also completed her doctoral training and psychology residency specializing in pediatric chronic illnesses with an emphasis on type one diabetes research and clinical care. Dr. Westen was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 14 and has devoted her career to diabetes research and intervention. She is a fellowship recipient of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s 2018-2019 National Diabetes Psychology Fellowship Program and is the 2018 recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Drotar-Crawford Postdoctoral Fellowship Research Grant in Pediatric Psychology. She is interested in the biopsychosocial aspects of chronic illness in children, young adults, and families (e.g., adherence, coping, family management, transition from pediatric to adult care, treatment of comorbid mental health conditions). Clinically, Dr. Westen sees patients for intervention services in the UF Psychology Clinic and the multidisciplinary UF Pediatric Endocrinology Diabetes Clinic. She served a three-year term as an elected Board Member within the Diabetes Special Interest Group of the Society of Pediatric Psychology (American Psychological Association Division 54) and is currently involved in several multi-site working groups regarding type one diabetes treatment in the context of interdisciplinary care. Dr. Westen is thrilled to participate in the Friends for Life® conference.


Jessie J. Wong, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. She received his PhD in clinical psychology from Arizona State University and completed her predoctoral internship at Phoenix Children's Hospital. Jessie's research and clinical interests focus on the intersection of physical and mental health among children and adolescents with chronic medical conditions as well as preventive interventions and treatments that target ongoing mental health needs. Jessie has a particular passion for working with children and adolescents with diabetes to reinforce their coping abilities and to help families serve a support system for diabetes management. Jessie is excited to join in the Friends for Life Fellows Program this year.

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Last Updated: Wednesday February 14, 2018 21:08:02
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