Room Moderators and Monitors
Our Room Moderators and Monitors welcome you to each session and introduce our amazing faculty
Deb Ruppert is so happy to be back as a part of the Friends for Life team. Deb started her relationship with Children with Diabetes while in the diabetes industry and looks forward to being a leader with the adult program support team (and supplying stickers for the sticker table!) each year. She’s been actively involved in helping to care for her dad’s diabetes for many years. Outside of FFL, she is head of commercial marketing with Journey Biosciences and loves gardening, cooking, college basketball, and her 4-legged fur baby, Gus. Come say hi!
Morgan Bednarczyk, M.S.Ed., LPC, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during her senior year of high school in 2011. Morgan earned her Masters of Education Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of Dayton and is now a licensed professional counselor who specializes in working with children and adolescents. She is in the final stages of publishing a children’s book about T1D focusing on diversity, empathy, and self-compassion. Morgan attended her first FFL Orlando conference in 2015 as a young adult thanks to assistance from the Diabetes Scholars Foundation and has not missed a year since. Morgan is excited to be a part of the FFL Orlando staff for the first time and continue to share her love for FFL with others!
Kathy Brown lives in Connecticut with her husband, Eric. She is mom to Connor and Russell (dx’d in 8/2007 at the age of three). She quickly found CWD’s message boards and found a community of people who “get it.” She and Russell have attended FFL conferences since 2014. Kathy volunteered for the Virtual FFL conferences held in 2020 and is thrilled be be working with the Room Captain team this year. At home, Kathy enjoys volunteering and fundraising for diabetes nonprofits and supporting diabetes families. She also enjoys photography, travel and knitting.
Jessica Costley is mom to 14 year old son, Nate (dx 10/18/16) and three daughters, Allie (11), Tatiana (24) and Misha (26). She first attended Friends for Life Orlando in 2018 and felt at home as soon as she stepped through the convention center doors and started hearing the familiar chimes of Dexcom alarms. Jessica is originally from Lancaster, PA, and now lives in the Orlando area. She currently works remotely in human resources and is happy to talk at length about travel, trip planning, and Disney!
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.
Heather Hawco-Gray lives in Whitby, Ontario, with her husband and two grown children. She has been learning about type 1 since December 27, 2004, when someone she loves was diagnosed. She attended her first Friends For Life Conference in Toronto in 2011 and, in 2016, she attended her first FFL Orlando Conference. As a mental health professional, she has attended many conferences over her 32 year career but felt this conference was one of the most informative, educational, supportive, and organized. The atmosphere of the conference made her feel very inspired. She met some amazing volunteers and families and left feeling motivated, hopeful, and connected. She decided then to be a part of something great and has been volunteering in both FFL Orlando and FFL Canada ever since. Heather loves being active, participating in "Mud Girl" races, practicing Muay Thai, traveling and spending time with friends and family.
Celeste Hogan is mom to Stella (age 18, dx’d in 2014) and to Ethan (age 22, currently participating in a clinical trial at the University of Florida to delay the onset of type 1). They attended their first Friends for Life conference just 28 days after Stella’s diagnosis, and have been coming ever since. Celeste enjoys yoga, reading, and going to Disney with her family. She’s very much looking forward to volunteering full time on the Room Moderator team!
Dave Hunsche is married to Jane and dad to Kara, diagnosed in 2001, and Philip who all volunteer at Friends for Life. Dave first attended FFL with his family back in 2003 and has been volunteering since 2012. He and his family love going to the Friends for Life conference every year because the friends they made have become family and everybody who attends the conference understands what everyone else is going through.
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.
Kristianne Keyser, from Tecumseh, Michigan, is a proud mom of five and an Air Traffic Controller. Her youngest daughter Isabella, was diagnosed with T1D in 2016. Her family attended their first conference the summer after her diagnosis. Kristianne cannot say enough about the impact that first FFL had on her daughter and their entire family. They have been loyal FFL’s ever since. Kristianne is so excited to be able to volunteer and give back to an organization that has come to mean so much to so many.
Benny Loebner is married to Pam (First Timers Staff) and the proud father of Sarah (dx 6/2002), who is a Physician Assistant at the University of Washington Diabetes Institute and working with teens this year at FFL. He is also the proud dad of Keith, who earned his Ph.D. at Stanford University in 2017, got married a few weeks later to Ellen, and just celebrated his son Jonah’s first birthday. The family attended their first CWD Friends for Life conference one month after Sarah was diagnosed, and they have been volunteering in various capacities ever since. Benny, an environmental geologist living in Los Altos, California, enjoys most sports and coaches and referees for the American Youth Soccer Organization. He is looking forward to meeting and greeting everyone.
Ashlyn Mills serves as CWD’s Events and Program Assistant. Ashlyn has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2015 when she was diagnosed at the age of 19. She quickly found her tribe in CWD and attended her first FFL conference less than one year after her diagnosis. By trade, Ashlyn is a licensed physical therapist assistant but the connections diabetes created quickly changed her career path. Ashlyn is passionate about helping people with diabetes and their families connect so they don’t have to do it alone. In her spare time, Ashlyn loves to run, bike, visit Disney World, and camp with her family.
Bob O’Connell is husband to Colleen (Kiddie Kove staff) and the father to 19-year-old Kaileigh (dx 1/2007) (Elementary staff) and Meghan, age 15. Bob and his family live in northeastern Massachusetts and first attended FFL in 2008. They have been attending FFL for several years since. Bob works for Comcast in the southern New Hampshire area and is looking forward to volunteering once again this year to support this very important conference.
Brian Quinn was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes his freshman year of high school. Having lived with diabetes for more than 25 years at this point, he has been known to say that his diabetes is now legally able to rent a car without paying the extra insurance or age-related prices. Over the years Brian has participated in many JDRF Ride to Cure’s and has clocked more miles on his bike than he ever thought he would. If you see Brian around feel free to ask him about his love of all things Disney, especially Stitch. He can talk to you about cheese or penguins as well. Brian has been coming to Friends for life for years and as always is excited to be here now.
Georgia Robert advocates for all those living with type 1 diabetes through her volunteer work for JDRF, Beyond Type 1, and Clara Barton/Joslin Diabetes Center. Georgia is particularly committed to raising awareness about the warning signs of type 1, supporting newly diagnosed families, and ensuring all children with type 1 diabetes know they can excel in whatever they choose in life. Georgia's husband has thrived with type 1 diabetes for over 35 years, and one of their sons, Lucas, was diagnosed six years ago at the age of five. Georgia lives with her family in Longmeadow, Massachusetts and works as a school administrator in Connecticut.
Scott Suttles is a husband and father to three children, his youngest with type 1 diabetes since her diagnosis at age 4. His daughter's experience at FFL 2021 was filled with laughter and new friendships. Scott's crew is excited to return to Orlando for the 2022 conference! Scott works as a speech and language pathologist and assistive technology professional in his local school system, serving first through 12th grades.
Robyn Wright is married to Tom and they are parents to Lauren who was dx with T1 on 7/8/10 at the age of five, and Parker. Robyn works as a certified clinical medical assistant at an Internal Medicine and Pediatrics private practice in Illinois. Robyn is the primary CCMA for one of the providers. She has attended several FFL conferences with Lauren since 2012. In her free time she loves cuddling with the family’s two rescue pit bulls, listening to music, (mostly Dave Matthews Band), and crafting. Summer and July at Disney are her favorite seasons!
Indicates Moderators and Monitors with diabetes