Jeff Hitchcock is the founder, president, and Chief Executive Officer 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. In September of 1989, their first child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of two. Jeff worked in defense related industries until 1995, when he started a small internet company and launched Children with Diabetes to share his family's experience caring for a child with T1D. Jeff also serves on the Board of Directors for the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC). Jeff received the 2021 ISPAD Hero Award for his work on Children with Diabetes.
Joan Bardsley, MBA, RN, CDCES, FAADE, is the assistant vice president of nursing and research integration at MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) and MedStar Health Corporate Nursing. She has over 40 years of experience in healthcare with a specialty in diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES). Ms. Bardsley has worked for MHRI for 25 years where her previous positions included responsibility for special projects and core scientific services. She is the MHRI representative to the MedStar Health Chief Nurses Council. She has served as co-investigator for the NIH supported inpatient diabetes education project as well as the AHRQ funded We Want to Know Project, which support the Interdisciplinary Model of Care (IMOC). At MedStar Health corporate nursing she is responsible as the executive liaison for administration of the Nursing Collaborative Governance Councils and has served as executive team liaison for a MedStar Wharton Nursing Leader of the Future. MS. Bardsley has published articles and book chapters on many aspects of DMSES and is an invited speaker both nationally and internationally on this topic. She holds an undergraduate degree in nursing from Boston College and a Master’s in Business Administration from The George Washington University. Ms. Bardsley is the past President of the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists, past chair of the Certification Board for Diabetes Care and Education (CBDCE), and Board member of Children with Diabetes. In addition, she is currently serves on several committees for ADCES, CBDCE, and the American Diabetes Association.
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 the first CWD event in June 2000, Laura has organized Friends for Life conferences, always keeping in mind the true purpose of Children with Diabetes — 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 her husband Neal. They are parents of Sam and Carolyn, who both serve as faculty at Friends for Life conferences as time allows.
Cynthia M. Deitle, JD, LLM, is the Programs and Operations Director for the Matthew Shepard Foundation. The Foundation envisions a world where hate is erased and replaced with empathy and acceptance through law enforcement hate crime trainings, outreach to the LGBTQ community, and support of worldwide productions of The Laramie Project. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1995 - 2017. During her career with the FBI, she focused her efforts on investigating violations of federal civil rights laws including police brutality and misconduct, hate crimes, and human trafficking. Ms. Deitle earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from The Ohio State University, her Juris Doctor degree from New England Law Boston, and a Master of Laws degree from both the George Washington University National Law Center and the New York University School of Law. She is an attorney licensed to practice law in Tennessee, Florida, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia and is an Adjunct Professor at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN. Ms. Deitle was featured in a 2011 episode of 60 Minutes dealing with an unsolved Civil Rights Cold Case, and she appeared in the first season of Investigation Discovery's series, The Injustice Files. After her two year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2013, Ms. Deitle and her wife attended their first Children With Diabetes Friends for Life conference in Orlando. "The conference saved us. We found a community who embraced our family and not only gave us information about Type 1 diabetes and how to better manage the disease, but gave us the confidence that one day there will indeed be a cure." Ms. Deitle and her wife, joined the staff of FFL in 2016 and Deitle joined the FFL faculty in 2017 to address the legal needs of young adults with Type 1 diabetes. Deitle and her family live in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Helen Finegold attended her first Friends for Life conference in 2018, and has been coming back as a volunteer ever since. She lives and works in Connecticut with her husband Will (dx 2004). Helen looks forward to FFL each year to learn about new technologies and reconnect with friends new and old. Outside of working with Children with Diabetes, Helen enjoys photography, travel, and spending time with her two cats.
Nia Grant has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2007, and has been living her best life every step of the way. Having worked in several professions and traveling the world, Nia has gained a wealth of experience in living life with chronic illness. She plans to continue living adventurously and helping others with diabetes learn to advocate for and navigate through their own adventurous lives.
Manuel Guzman is dad to Manuel (dx January 2007) and Camila. Manuel, his wife Keila, and their two children live in Hatillo, Puerto Rico and have been attending Friends for Life Orlando conferences since 2009. Manuel and his wife are both attorneys, who upon their son’s diagnosis began providing pro bono legal advocacy support and representation to T1D families in Puerto Rico; including drafting and passing local legislation in Puerto Rico to ensure that T1D children received the support and care they needed in both public and private schools. Manuel joined the US Army Reserves in 1996 as a Commissioned Officer in the Medical Services Corps, and later transferred to the Judge Advocate General’s’ Corps where he currently holds the rank of Major. In his civilian career he was in private practice from 2002 until 2018, where he mainly focused on corporate litigation. In 2018. Manuel left private practice and joined the US Government legal workforce, where he is currently the Supervisory Attorney in the US Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Jen Hanson, BKin, BEd, MEd, CDCES, has grown up with type 1 diabetes. Diagnosed in 1987, she has never let diabetes stop her from pursuing her passion. Jen’s early beginnings as a campfire-loving, bug-catching, mud-puddle-jumping, tree-climbing tot sparked in her a love for the natural world that has been fostered and grown into a full-blown passion for everything outdoors. Jen is the Executive Director of Connected in Motion (CIM), and spends her days organizing retreats and adventure programs for adults with type 1 diabetes. She also works with the CIM Team to run Friends for Life Canada. Jen became a CDE in 2017 focusing on diabetes and exercise. Jen loves volunteering with Children with Diabetes as it gives her an opportunity to work with youth with diabetes and give them the gift of connection.
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 Children with Diabetes website, and helps out in countless ways at Friends for Life conferences.
Rebecca B. Jervey has been living with diabetes since 1998 when she was diagnosed just before her second year of high school. Her doctor's comment at the time was "while I'd never wish this on anyone I know you'll be ok because you'll treat it like a science experiment." Since then life has been a constant science experiment getting to know how her body reacts to things and picking up as much new technology as she can. She started looping in early 2018 and has since used OpenAPS, Omnipy, AndroidAPS, and FreeAPS at various times (and with various pumps and CGMS). Whenever burnout hits, she switches things up and tries a new technology to bring back the excitement of mastering diabetes. Outside of her diagnosis, she works as a trainer for pharmaceutical companies on a software suite that helps new drugs and devices get submitted to agencies worldwide. She also volunteers as part of the Camp Nejeda Walk-a-Thon committee and as a Moderator for the Loop and Learn Facebook group.
Julia Mattingly is proud mom of Hannah and Ethan, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in July of 1998 at 10 months old and started pumping when he was three years old. Julia has attended every 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 hug. Julia loves coordinating registration and being able to meet and talk to everyone who attends. Her favorite Friends for Life memory is from 2000 when she met all of her CWD email moms 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. "Coming to Friends for Life has changed our lives, I have friends that 'get it' and what we as moms go through. But mostly it has helped teach Ethan how to take care of himself, to live his best life on his own and taught us all how to give back to the CWD community."
Carolyn Meredith is mom to Chelsea, Jeremy (dx’d May 2000), and Bailey and wife to Rich. Carolyn and her family attended their first Friends for Life conference in 2003 and have been involved with CWD ever since. Carolyn works with Rich managing the storage facility and works with the Support Team as central communications during the conference. For her day job, Carolyn is the Data Management Tech at an elementary school in St. Petersburg, Florida. She enjoys meeting and sharing with other CWD families. “Friends for Life is a place where everyone ‘gets it’ and you can share your own experiences to help others newer to T1D.”
Jeremy Meredith was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2000 when he was six years old. Jeremy has been attending Friends for Life Orlando conferences since 2003. He received his Associates of Science in Criminal Justice Technology in 2016, a general AA in 2018, BAS in Public Safety Administration in 2020, and is a certified SCUBA Diver. His biggest reason to come to Friends for Life Orlando is that it is a “vacation” from diabetes that is all about diabetes.
Rich Meredith is dad to Jeremy (dx'd May 2000), Bailey, and Chelsea. He has been involved in CWD since the family attended their first conference in 2003. His day job is working in IT, but on the side he makes "big bowls," hand thrown pottery pieces which have been found at diabetes and community art related fund raising auctions. Rich coordinates the load in and load out of all conference materials. He also oversees the exhibit hall, from set-up to tear down and everything in between for the FFL conference. Children with Diabetes has been a huge part of his family’s life, and they have all made lifelong friendships here.
Shari Michaelson hails from Ajax, Ontario. Along with son Tayler (age 26, diagnosed in 2004) and daughter Connor (age 14), Shari has attended Friends for Life conferences since 2009. After their first FFL Orlando, Shari realized that every summer has to include FFL. Shari looks forward to volunteering with the Registration Team again this summer after being the lead of the Registration Team at FFL Canada this past November. She is thrilled to give back to an organization that has supported her family for so many years. Friends for Life is a uniquely inclusive event where you feel like everyone is family.
Will Nowak attended his first Friends for Life event in 2018 and has been returning to volunteer with the IT Team ever since. He is interested in learning about new developments in diabetes technology and participating in clinical trials in that space. Will and his wife Helen live in Connecticut with their two cats. He works as a Site Reliability Engineer and outside of work enjoys rock climbing, travel, and searching for the best Fettuccine Alfredo. Will is looking forward to seeing everyone at the next conference!
Kristen O’Dell, MS, RD, CDCES, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of nine, in 1998. Despite her resistance to accepting this diagnosis, it has been the driving force behind her pursuing a career as a dietitian. She earned her Master’s degree in Dietetics at D’Youville College and became a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. Kristen has worked in a children’s clinic, long term care nursing facilities, as an insulin pump trainer, and is now providing diabetes and nutrition counseling through her company, Focused Diabetes Solutions, all while being the Dietitian at CWD FFL conferences. Her goal is to empower people living with diabetes so that they can navigate all the ups and downs of life (and blood sugars). Kristen and her husband, Shawn, have a child, Corwin, plus one on the way. Kristen enjoys cooking and baking in the kitchen, working in the garden, rooting for the Buffalo Bills, traveling around the world, and reading (when she can find a little free time).
Matthew Point, MS, serves as CWD’s Director of Advancement and Programs. Matt is responsible for CWD’s fundraising and development, working with our generous sponsors, and managing our conference scholarship program. In 2013, Matt attended his first CWD event – Friends for Life Orlando. Matt’s favorite part of being involved with CWD & the Friends for Life Conferences is having the opportunity to meet other significant others of people with type 1 diabetes.
Lauren Salko lives in Park City, Utah and is graduate of Saint Anselm College. Lauren is professional skier who competes around the world in SkiCross. When she is not skiing, Lauren loves mountain biking and doing triathlons. As a person with diabetes, Lauren is very passionate about working with Children with Diabetes and could not be more excited to be a part of the youth programming staff this year!
Sasha Squibb is a visual communication specialist with a focus in non-profit marketing, serving as CWD's Creative Director. Sasha was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes more than 25 years ago and in a previous role oversaw outreach and marketing initiatives for the T1D community across Southwest Ohio. She is highly passionate about providing education and support for people with T1D and their families.
Marissa Town, BSN, RN, CDCES, is Clinical Director for Children with Diabetes and oversees the medical content on the website and develops the adult programming at Friends for Life conferences. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 2 years old and grew up as an attendee of the Friends for Life conferences since the beginning in 2000. Marissa also works part time at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to help improve health equity for families with T1D.
Indicates staff member with diabetes