Staff_Faculty

The Conference Faculty

Ramon ("Ray") Benedetto, DM, MS, LFACHE, is a retired US Air Force Colonel and an active consultant sought for his expertise in organizational transformation, leadership, culture, and performance excellence. During a distinguished 28-year military career, he was a change leader in a diversity of assignments that included initiating the All-Volunteer force, restructuring the Air Force, and transforming the Military Health Services System into TRICARE. In civilian life he has guided corporate transformations within the healthcare industry and co-founded GuideStar, Inc.® to serve leaders of small to mid-sized enterprises in building high-performing, character-based organizations.

Ray is board certified by the American College of Healthcare Executives where he is also a Life Fellow.  He is co-author of It’s My Company Too!  How entangled organizations move beyond employee engagement for remarkable results (2012) and numerous national press articles. His military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal and five Air Force Meritorious Service Awards. In addition to holding degrees from Penn State, the University of Southern California, and University of Phoenix, he is a graduate of Air War College and the National Defense University.

Ray and Joan have been married 51 years and are parents to Jayce who was diagnosed with T1D in 2013 when he was 18 months old. They also have three adult children and six other grandchildren who reside in Illinois and Ohio. They live in Batavia, IL, which is 35 miles west of Chicago in the Fox River Valley and have been attending FFL since 2015.  Jayce is now in the Tween program and loves his FFLs as well as working at the sticker table. Ray was diagnosed with T2 in 2018.  As a family, Ray, Joan, and Jayce strive to educate others about T1D whenever opportunities arise and to advocate for better insurance coverage, lower premiums and co-pays, accessibility, and more informed medical professionals.

Sarah Corathers, MD, is an adult and pediatric endocrinologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, University of Cincinnati. Her interests include psychosocial aspects of diabetes, use of patient reported outcomes to complement clinical measures, and effective transitioning between pediatric and adult health care settings. Dr. Corathers works nationally with the Type 1 Diabetes Exchange quality improvement learning network to expand depression screening across pediatric and adult clinics.

Collector of orange and green wristbands, Leigh Fickling, MEd, MS, JD, is the Director of the Disability Resource Center at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. With over 25 years of higher education administration experience, Leigh is an expert in college and workplace accommodations for individuals with disabilities. As a former solo legal practitioner, Leigh's law firm specialized in education law, disability law, and family law. Leigh is the mom to twins, Ava (green band) and Davis (orange band), and can most often be found in the FFL hallways shouting, "SLOW DOWN!" Leigh feels that FFL is the number one most important tool in her diabetes tool kit and can't imagine trying to dia-beat-this without the strong support from her friends for life. FFL Conferences are the highlight of the year for the Fickling family and they can't wait to welcome new and returning families into their circle of friends! #greenandorangeforlife

George Grunberger, MD, FACP, MACE, is the chairman of Grunberger Diabetes Institute in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Dr. Grunberger, is also Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine and of Molecular Medicine & Genetics at Wayne State University School of Medicine, Professor of Internal Medicine at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine as well as Visiting Professor at First Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Prague (Czech Republic).

Before establishing GDI in 2002, Dr. Grunberger was Director of the Diabetes Program at the Detroit Medical Center for 16 years and the Medical Director of Wayne State University's Morris J. Hood Comprehensive Diabetes Center. Dr. Grunberger held tenured Full Professor appointments at the University in Department of Internal Medicine and in the Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics since 1986. Between 1997 and 2001 he was Henry L. Brasza Director of the Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics. Prior to that Dr. Grunberger served as interim Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine and Physician-in-Chief of the Detroit Medical Center. Dr. Grunberger came to Detroit from the Diabetes Branch (at NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Grunberger received his internal medicine training at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, his medical (M.D.) training at the New York University School of Medicine and his bachelor's degree (in biochemistry) at Columbia College of Columbia University, also in New York City.

Dr. Grunberger has published over 150 peer-reviewed manuscripts as well as review articles, abstracts and book chapters. His research interests have spanned the spectrum of subjects related to diabetes and its complications, from basic studies on molecular underpinning of insulin action and insulin resistance to clinical research studies on many aspects of diabetes and its management.

Dr. Grunberger has been an active member of many professional organizations where he has held elected positions of leadership. He is currently the Past President of American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and President Elect of the American College of Endocrinology. He is a co-editor of two international diabetes journals. Dr. Grunberger has served as an educator of medical students, interns, residents, endocrinology fellows, master's and Ph.D. candidates, and junior faculty over the past 35 years.

Kate Hall is a 25-year-old professional track and field athlete from Casco, Maine. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease at age 10, Kate immediately learned how to manage both diseases full time and tackled them head on at a young age. Since the day she self-injected insulin for the first time, Kate has wanted to prove that chronic illness wouldn’t stand in the way of her dreams. Since then, she has beaten the odds to become a national high school record holder in 2015, two-times NCAA Champion, Olympic Trial finalist, and USA long jump champion.

George Huntley is a founding member of the Diabetes Leadership Council (DLC) and currently serves as the CEO of both the DLC and its affiliate, the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC). He has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1983 and has 3 other family members also living with type 1. A passionate advocate for people with diabetes, George served as the National Chair of the Board of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) in 2009. George is also the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Theoris Group, Inc., an IT and engineering professional services firm based in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he has been the plan administrator of a self-insured, employer based health plan for over 20 years. In addition, George serves as the Treasurer of Children with Diabetes.

Jeffrey Karitis, CFP®, CEPA, is a Senior Vice President Wealth Management and Portfolio Manager in New York City.   He holds the CFP® (CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional) and CEPA (Certified Exit Planning Advisor) designations.  He has been providing wealth and risk management strategies for business owners, executives, and families since 1999.  Jeff previously served as an Investment Banking Analyst, Alternative Investments Consultant, and a Special Assistant to the CFO & COO of a major children's book publisher and entertainment company.  Jeff earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and Marketing from University at Albany- State University of New York.

He lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with wife Kimberly and their children Madeline and Max as well as their retired racing greyhounds Ginger and Marshall.  He served as Co-President of the JDRF Westchester/Fairfield/Hudson Valley chapter and Executive Board for the Greater NYC JDRF Chapter.

Jeff’s daughter Madeline was diagnosed with T1D in 2014 and they have been attending CWDFFL since 2016.  He and his wife are passionate about improving the lives of people with diabetes and they support various local and global diabetes charities.

Oren Liebermann is CNN's Pentagon correspondent based in Washington, DC. Oren was diagnosed with T1 Diabetes in Nepal while backpacking around the world with his wife. After a brief trip home to recover and learn more about diabetes care, Oren resumed his trip in Thailand. He considers this the most important decision he ever made about living with diabetes: never let it slow you down. He aims to inspire other people with diabetes to live full, adventurous lives without limitations. Oren is the author of the recently published book, The Insulin Express: One Backpack, Five Continents, and the Diabetes Diagnosis That Changed Everything.

Chelsea Lugone, FNP-BC, CDCES, is a PWD, diagnosed at age 23. Two of her children, Kate and Ryan, also live with T1D. Chelsea's diagnosis led her to pursue a career in diabetes care. She is Nurse Practitioner at PennState Health's Pediatric Diabetes Clinic in Hershey, PA. Additionally, she volunteers with the Central & Western PA JDRF's Community Outreach and Board. She is a compensated member of Dexcom's speaker bureau. Her life passion is to do everything she can to help people living with and impacted by diabetes to live their healthiest and best lives with diabetes! Continuing to be informed about diabetes, getting support, embracing change, diabetes tech, a positive mindset, and remembering to give herself grace; no one and no person's diabetes is perfect is her approach to living a healthy and fulfilling life with diabetes!

Maureen Monaghan, PhD, CDCES, is a licensed clinical psychologist affiliated with Children’s National Hospital and an adjunct Associate Professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC. She also works at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Monaghan has worked for over 15 years providing behavioral health care for youth with diabetes. Her clinical and research work focuses on helping youth with diabetes and their parents adjust and adapt to new settings and manage their daily routines, while also promoting optimal quality of life. Dr. Monaghan is particularly interested in supporting adolescents and young adults and their diabetes care clinicians to facilitate a smooth transition from pediatric to adult diabetes care.

R. Stewart Perry grew up in Lexington, Kentucky. Since 1983 he has been the co-owner of Perry & Perry State Farm Insurance, one of the largest State Farm Insurance agencies in the state of Kentucky and is a Diabetes Consultant and Advocate. Stewart’s family has been dramatically affected by diabetes. His son had type 1 diabetes, both parents, and sister have all had diabetes during their lifetime. He has lost a son, uncle, grandfather and great grandmother to complications of diabetes. Stewart was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1990. Since that time, he has been actively involved in Diabetes issues and groups. . Stewart was the Chairman of the National Board of Directors and the Chair of the National Advocacy Committee for five years at the American Diabetes Association. Stewart is a member of the Kentucky Diabetes Network and a founding member of the Fayette County Diabetes Collation. Stewart was appointed by two different Governors of Kentucky to the GET FIT KY Board and The Diabetes Research Trust Fund Board. Stewart is one of the founders of the Diabetes Leadership Council and currently serves as Chairman of that organization where he has been instrumental in passing Diabetes Action Plan legislation in 28 states. He is currently the Vice-Chair of the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition and served as interim CEO for three months. He is a very well know speaker in diabetes circles on advocacy related topics. Stewart serves on the board of Children with Diabetes.

Matthew Point, MS, serves as CWD’s Director of Advancement. 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.

Harold Sanco, CPT, is a former National 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. With more than 20 years of experience in youth physical education and coaching, he is an internationally acclaimed instructor and trainer who teaches across the United States, Canada, and 15 countries for some of the top fitness conferences in the world. His popular "Urban Funk" class has been featured in People, Allure, and W magazines. He is AFAA certified and a Master Trainer for Lebert Training Systems.

Marissa Town, BSN, RN, CDCES, has lived with type 1 diabetes for 31 years and has been coming to the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life conferences since the beginning in the year 2000. She realized early on that helping other people living with diabetes was what she wanted to devote her life to, so she became a nurse and a diabetes educator. Marissa has worked in a diabetes clinic, as a pump trainer, as a Clinical Research Manager at Stanford University in diabetes research and has recently started as the Clinical Director for CWD. Her main goal is to help improve peoples' quality of life and reduce barriers to quality healthcare. Marissa and her partner Adam have two young children, Connor and Everly, who also enjoy coming to Friends for Life to share their experiences growing up with a mom with type 1 diabetes. Marissa loves game nights, hiking with her dog Baxter, traveling (when it's not a pandemic), and crafting with her kids.

Crystal Crismond Woodward is the Director of the American Diabetes Association (ADA)'s Safe at School initiative based at its Home Office in Arlington, Virginia. 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 successfully led the effort to pass the first state diabetes school legislation in the country providing comprehensive coverage for students with diabetes in Virginia and has since worked tirelessly for legislative and policy change in 34 states including the District of Columbia. Crystal is a contributor to many diabetes publications, is a member of the Virginia Diabetes Council, and serves on a number of other diabetes and youth advisory boards and committees.

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Indicates faculty member with diabetes

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