Carolyn Billetdeaux, MBA, has worn almost every 'hat' in her 23 years with CWD – from youth attendee to volunteer to Tween and Siblings program leader. She brings 24 years of experience as a sibling of someone with T1D (hi Sam!) and she played a key role in developing the Orange Team youth program at Friends for Life conferences, which focuses on providing support for siblings and others who love people with T1D. After taking a year off in 2017 to pursue her MBA at IE Business School in Madrid, Carolyn returned to CWD in a behind-the-scenes role. For the past two years she has held the title of Conference Volunteers & Training Coordinator. Carolyn loves spending time with her Friends for Life family and enjoys helping CWD continue to grow and thrive for the next generation of FFLs.
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.
Jimmy Fickling holds the record for the most juiceboxes, glucose tabs, and applesauce pouches stashed away in a backpack in the hallways of FFL. Jimmy is a Criminal Investigator with the Duke University Police Department specializing in threat management and drug diversion. Father to twins, Ava and Davis, Jimmy can most often be found keeping a close eye on the hallways of FFL and helping to ensure the safety of all FFL participants. His favorite part of the FFL conference is meeting new people and making friends that will truly last a lifetime.
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.
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.
Jeff Hitchcock is the founder 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. 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. He subsequently worked at LEXIS-NEXIS and Pearson plc on Internet initiatives, and now works full time bringing Children with Diabetes to you. Jeff also serves on the Board of Directors for the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC) and Beta Bionics. Jeff received the 2021 ISPAD Hero Award for his work on Children with Diabetes.
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.
Rachel Knight has music in her heart but no insulin production in her pancreas. Diagnosed at the age of 10, she never let diabetes stop her. She is currently a music teacher and musical theater director in Menlo Park, CA, and teaches children in Preschool through 5th grade. Most of Rachel's student's think she is part robot and get a kick out of spotting her robots (Omni, Riley, and Dex), asking where they are, and even trying to touch them. Rachel believes that her tendency to over pack is because of her diabetes. She likes to be over prepared and generally has glucose tabs, juice boxes, and overtapes on her person at any time. Rachel lives in the San Francisco Bay Area near her parents, sister, and two nephews. Rachel always looks forward to FFL events and can't wait to work with this years IT Staff.
Hannah Mattingly is the older sister of Ethan, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1998. Hannah and her family have been to all the Friends for Life Orlando conferences and many of the regionals. Hannah started in childcare at four years old and moved through all the youth programs. She graduated from Spalding University in Louisville Kentucky with a MBA in Health Science & Healthcare Management. Hannah considers FFL her extended family and always loves to meet new people to make new Friends for Life. She likes giving back to the CWD community and is happy her brother has learned how to take care of himself with all the advancements in diabetes.
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 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.
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 Pawlowski was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002. He attends the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, majoring in Accounting and Supply Chain Management. Matthew has been coming to Friends for Life since 2003 and is proud that he has gone through the entire FFL education program. He has three sisters: Melissa (dx’d 2/95), Sarah, and Kayla, who are all on FFL staff. He is excited to join the IT staff this year.
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.
Deb Ruppert is so happy to be a part of the Friends for Life team and can’t wait to see old and meet new FFLs. Her dad is her connection to diabetes. Outside of Children with Diabetes, she is a strategic marketing consultant for medical device and healthcare companies and enjoys cooking, college basketball and her four-legged fur baby.
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 CWD staff.
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.
Joanne Stroud, MHA, is first and foremost a CWD Mom. Her son Ben was diagnosed in 1998 at the age of 10 and Children with Diabetes quickly became their lifeline. She attended her first Friends for Life conference in 2003 and instantly became hooked, telling Laura she’d do anything (within reason of course!) she could, to assist Children with Diabetes. At one point or another, all of the Strouds, including newly added wives have given back as Friends for Life faculty/staff which is truly what FFL is all about! When not working with CWD, Joanne is a Flight Attendant. She and her newly retired husband Jim, recently relocated to the Seattle, WA area and are enjoying their new adventure.
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.
Indicates staff member with diabetes