First Timers Team

Our First Timers Team helps new Fiffles get the most out of the conference

Lauren Lanning

Lauren Lanning is the very proud mom of Monica, dx 8/96, a recent Physician Assistant graduate, and Sarah, an engineer. Lauren became involved with CWD shortly after Monica was diagnosed in 1996. She has been involved in the conferences since the very first gathering in Orlando in 2000, where she volunteered to make name badges. Since then, Lauren has run Registration and then the Elementary program. This year, Lauren is excited to continue as leader of the MOFFLs and First Timers. She lives in Colorado and loves traveling, riding her bicycle and volunteering as a JDRF Ride coach.

Lisa Anderson has two adult children, Morgan, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2011, and Ian, non T1D who has high functioning autism. She has been attending Friends For Life since 2018. Lisa is a retired recreation and childcare director for the city of Huntington Woods, Michigan where she also ran the city’s annual 4th of July parade for 30 years. She loves seeing all the new friendships made at FFL and how everyone helps each other by sharing supplies or sharing a shoulder to lean on. Lisa looks forward to volunteering this year to help others make lasting friendships at FFL just like she has.

Joan Benedetto is mom to Jayce, diagnosed at 18 months, and three adult children. She attended her first FFL conference in 2015 and has attended every year since, including several regional conferences. Joan brings her background as a management trainer within the food industry with an emphasis on creating the ultimate guest experience. She also served as a revitalization specialist. Her favorite thing to do at FFL, besides greeting Fiffles, is looking for and welcoming First Timers. Joan's hobbies are mosaics and applique quilting with wool. Joan is delighted to be joining the First Timers Team!

Greg Dooley and his wife, Kristina, are the proud parents of triplets, Mia, Isa, and Max. Their daughter, Isa, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in August 2012 just before her second birthday. Greg serves on the Board of Beyond Type 1, a nonprofit organization changing what it means to live with diabetes. He also serves on the Board of Journey Biosciences, a US-based biotechnology company dedicated to fundamentally improving diabetes care. Greg is a corporate finance executive with more than 20 years experience and lives in Northeast Ohio with his family. Greg is excited to meet new families at Friends for Life this year as part of the First Timers Team!

Kristina Dooley

Kristina Dooley is from Ohio and is mom to triplets Isa, Mia and Max. Isa was diagnosed with type 1 in August of 2012, just before her second birthday. The Dooley family has attended the Friends for Life Conference since 2013 and count it as a highlight of every year (especially the themed banquets and DocuDiabetes!). Kristina is a Certified Educational Planner and loves traveling to visit colleges around the country. She is thrilled to be part of the First Timers Team this year!

Janice Gaskins is President of Macey’s Believers and mom to Rose, son-in-law Rob, and Macey. Macey was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2003 at 13 months old. Macey was one of the youngest diagnosed in their area and there were not many type 1 families with whom the Gaskins could connect. When Macey was three, the Gaskins family attended Friends for Life for the first time. Janice is always happy to tell everyone “FFL is the best week of the year!” Macey's Believers started out as a JDRF walk team in 2004 and became a 501c3 non-profit in 2016. Macey’s Believers supports families living with type 1 families through education and diabetes research. Their annual Gala, held each year in November, supports the Children with Diabetes Friends for Life Conference Scholarship fund. Janice is excited to being on the First Timers Team.

Tina Ghosn has three children with diabetes. Her daughter completed two undergraduate degrees this spring and will begin working toward her graduate degree this fall. Her oldest son completed his second year of college, and her youngest will begin his first year of college this fall. Tina isn’t entirely sure how she will cope with an empty nest; thank goodness for three dogs, three cats, and a whole lot of friends. FFL 2023 will be her 11th FFL Orlando conference since her youngest son was diagnosed in 2007. Tina says, “Friends For Life is more than learning about new technology or the most recent cure research, it’s more than meeting people with diabetes who summit mountains, race cars, win extreme challenge courses, become pro-athletes, or write and perform music. Friends For Life is about the powerful feeling in your chest as you hear the words ‘Us, too’ while you chat with strangers who are just like you and meet kids who are just like yours; it’s in those moments the universe feels smaller and more manageable.”

LaQuanda Lockhart, MHA, MAT, is a mom of two boys: Landon, her T1D warrior, and Karrai. Landon was diagnosed with T1D on February 6, 2021. After signing up for various emails about T1D, LaQuanda stumbled across Friends for Life. She and her family were able to attend for the first time after Landon was diagnosed just months earlier. What a life changer it was! She loved it so much that she decided to sign up to be a volunteer and continues to do so. Besides being a busy mom, LaQuanda is a science teacher in the Mississippi Delta.

Pam Loebner was a California public elementary school teacher who worked in both special education and regular education classrooms for 38 years. Since becoming a CWD mom, Pam has assisted the district nurse with education for families and teachers when newly diagnosed or newly enrolled students arrive. While always working as an advocate for student needs, Pam focuses on being an advocate for equal access to all school activities for children with diabetes. Pam and her family discovered the CWD website 30 minutes after her daughter's diagnosis in June 2002 when Sarah was 9 1/2, and attended their first conference just a month later. "It was like coming home," she says.


Indicates First Timers Team member with diabetes