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The Conference Faculty

Additional faculty will be announced as they are confirmed

Ramon (Ray) Benedetto, DM, MS, LFACHE, is an organizational leadership and culture consultant and author who works with public and private sector leaders to build high-performing organizations. Ray retired from the US Air Force after a distinguished Medical Service Corps career during which he engaged in numerous transformations, including recruiting medical professionals for the All-Vol Force, restructuring of the Air Force Medical Service, and creation of TRICARE, the military’s integrated health services delivery system. He continues to work with civilian leaders to build great companies. Ray and his wife Joan have been attending FFL since 2015 after their son Jayce was diagnosed with T1.

Mountain Climber Will Cross has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1976 when he was diagnosed at the age of nine. Will was told that it was unlikely he would live to be 30 years old because of diabetes. In the 40 years since, he became passionate about high-altitude mountaineering and has ascended the highest peaks on all seven continents and walked to both the North and South Poles. In What’s Your Everest, Cross takes his audience through his three-year journey to the top of Mount Everest and three other 8000 meter summits. Will seeks to get the message out that if he can control his diabetes in these conditions, no one should feel hindered by diabetes, and he encourages his audience to find the explorer within themselves.

Leigh Fickling, JD, MEd, MS, serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Children with Diabetes. Leigh is responsible for the day-to-day operational leadership of the organization and for the oversight and implementation of the organization's strategic plan. Leigh's daughter, Ava, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2013 at the age of three. Leigh is a subject matter expert in the implementation of accommodations for people with diabetes in the classroom, workplace, and beyond. The Friends for Life conferences are the highlight of the year for the Fickling family and they can't imagine trying to dia-beat-this without their circle of friends.

Michael Greenberg, MSN, NP, CDCES, is an adult nurse practitioner specializing in diabetes care at Montefiore-Einstein in the Bronx, New York where he's part of their young adult transition program. Diagnosed with T1D in 2005, he credits his own CDE for inspiring him to go into nursing. He completed his BSN program at Pace University in 2007, and then obtained his MSN from Johns Hopkins University in 2012. Interested in diabetes tech and the intersection of exercise and diabetes, he's completed several half marathons, two NYC marathons, and enjoys the challenge of managing his blood sugar on a train run or hike, especially with his kids. He loves teaching to and learning from his patients and colleagues, and is excited to be a part of Friends for Life.

Jacob Jansen is the Communications and Policy Lead for DPAC. His interest in government has brought him to work in internships on the county level up to the United Kingdom’s House of Parliament, including three Kentucky legislative sessions with Babbage Cofounder. With several loved ones living with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Jacob brings his advocacy experience to engage stakeholders on DPAC’s advocacy efforts. He earned his Master’s degree in Public Administration with a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management at the University of Kentucky.

Amanda Kaufman graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2020, where she founded and led her university's chapter of the Diabetes Link. During the pandemic, she obtained her M.S. in Health Care Management from Johns Hopkins and started her current position with the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition, where she works in policy advocacy for people living with diabetes. Amanda was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2011 and resides in Los Angeles.

Maria Kim, MS, RD, LD, is a Registered Dietitian supporting teens and adults with diabetes and eating disorders or disordered eating with Lauren Newman Nutrition Therapy, a virtual private practice across various states. She is passionate about offering nutrition support and diabetes care through a non-diet and size inclusive lens as she believes that everyone deserves informed, shame-free, collaborative and individualized eating care within the complex frameworks of their evolving needs. She received her bachelor's degree in Nutritional Science at Cornell University, master's degree in Clinical Nutrition at New York Institute of Tech, and dietetic internship with Sodexo Dietetic Internships with a focus on pediatrics.

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.

Matthew Point, MS, is CWD's Director of Advancement and Programs. In this role, he manages corporate sponsorships, fundraising efforts, and the coordination of CWD's events, such as our renowned Friends for Life conferences. Matt's journey with CWD began in 2013 when he attended his first event, Friends for Life Orlando.

Lauren Salko lives in Park City, Utah with her fellow green band husband Jeremy and is graduate of Saint Anselm College. Lauren is a former professional skier who competed around the world in SkiCross. In her free time, Lauren loves skiing, 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 for this summer!

Siobhan Tellez, DNP, APRN, CPNP-PC (she/her/hers), is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner who specializes in managing diabetes in children, adolescents, and young adults. Siobhan received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Boston College, and her master’s degree in nursing from the University of California San Francisco, where she completed a certificate program in Diabetes Management Across the Lifespan. In 2022, she received her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the University of Cincinnati. Siobhan has been practicing as an NP in the Diabetes Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center since 2017. Siobhan’s first nursing job was at a summer camp for children with T1D. She instantly found the joy in celebrating the victories amongst the “highs” and “lows” of managing T1D and couldn’t imagine being anything else besides a diabetes NP. Since then, she has learned from (and grown with) an incredible community of youth and families that call her their diabetes provider. Outside of the clinic, she is passionate about conducting research and quality-improvement projects aimed at making diabetes care more manageable, accessible, and equitable for all. Siobhan lives in Northern Kentucky with her husband Andy, two exceptional cats, and a very large Irish wolfhound named Maeve.

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 faculty member with diabetes