Tween Team

Our Tween Team oversees programming for our Fiffles aged 9 to 12

Melissa Geren was diagnosed with diabetes in 1995. She went to her first Friends for Life Orlando Conference in 2003 and has been attending Friends for Life conferences ever since. Melissa is mom to Maddax (born December 2021), wife to Zach and has three siblings, Sarah, Kayla, and Matthew (diagnosed at age two). Melissa works in marketing in Chicago and loves the Windy City. In addition to working with Tweens at Friends for Life Conferences each year, Melissa is currently a board member for Children with Diabetes.

Sarah Johnston is mom (to Reese), wife (to Russ), sister (to Melissa, Kayla, and Matthew) and daughter (to Dave and Chris Pawlowski). Two of Sarah's siblings have had type 1 diabetes for more than 20 years. With a bachelor's degree in Education and Psychology, Sarah is a STEM teacher in a project based classroom in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since the age of 10, Sarah spends a week where everyone understands all that comes with type 1 diabetes. Now, Sarah brings her own daughter and husband to spend time with others just like Aunt Melissa and Uncle Matthew. This is a great time to reconnect as a family and catch up with friends from all over the world. Sarah is excited to be a Tween Leader, where hands-on activities lead to learning and friends for life.

Kate Beaulieu has been a Friends for Life attendee since 2018 and has volunteered on the Kiddie Kove Team. Diagnosed in March of 2017, she started her own company three months later called Sugardrop Sweetwear to raise awareness of the early signs of type 1. She is a passionate T1D advocate and spreads awareness online through her social media accounts. She has partnered with companies such as Dexcom Canada and Tandem Diabetes for content creation and brand awareness. She loves volunteering for diabetes events to help inspire and support those living with T1D. For Kate, fostering connections within the diabetes community isn't just a mission, it's her lifelong commitment to make a meaningful impact in the lives of those affected by T1D!

Jessica Carey, MBA volunteers with the Tween Program. She is the proud mother of James, who was diagnosed with T1D in February of 2021. With a background in performing arts and education, Jessica has taught middle and high school theatre in three states, directed many theatre productions, and planned large scale summer learning experiences for students across the country. Currently, Jessica works as the Head of Customer Success for a software company in Washington, D.C., which allows her the flexibility to assist with her son’s diabetes care. In her spare time Jessica loves reading, crafts, and is a very devoted baseball mom.

Chelsea Carr has grown up around diabetes; her brother Jeremy was diagnosed in 2000. She attended her first Friends for Life conference with her family in 2003 and has been to many CWD conferences since that time. It was through the FFL conferences that she first met her husband, Martyn. They welcomed a son, Owynn, in May 2021. Chelsea now lives in Glasgow and works as a data analyst for Vodafone UK. She is also an aerialist and spends all of her free time hanging from the rafters on a trapeze in various venues around the UK!

Brooke Foth, RDN, CDCES, is a registered dietitian and diabetes educator who has had a passion for type 1 diabetes after being diagnosed in 2016. She enjoys teaching kids about healthy nutrition, insulin management strategies including cgm and insulin pump therapy. Brooke is the lead dietitian for Montana Diabetes Youth Camp and loves to be involved in the diabetes community. She enjoys teaching cooking classes and getting kids with type 1 together in Montana. When she’s not in the clinic she enjoys making jewelry, backpacking, skiing and spending time with family and friends.

Connor Horne has attended Friends for Life since the age of six and is a familiar face at the conference, making connections and lifelong friends along the way. Connor is fortunate enough to attend because of her big brother Tayler (dx’d in 2004). Connor says that Tayler is one of her biggest inspirations and the 11 year age gap is what makes their bond so special. In her spare time she loves to dance, act, and sing. Volunteering on the Tween Team gives her a chance to give back to a community that has been a huge part of her life, ensuring that every child and family feels heard and supported. If you see Connor around, don’t hesitate to stop her as she is always open to meet new people, share stories, or offer a helping hand, embodying what makes Friends for Life and CWD so special.

Angela Kaminski

Angela Kaminski is from Flagstaff, Arizona. Her youngest son was diagnosed four years ago with type 1 diabetes. Angela is the Director of a small K-12 school. She lives with her husband, youngest daughter, two youngest sons, and two very spoiled dogs. She has three grown children scattered across the United States. In her free time, Angela likes to hike, camp, play board games, badminton, and spend time around the fire with friends and family. Her first trip in person to Friends for Life Orlando was in 2021. It was life-changing for her and her family! They are very excited to return this year. Angela is extremely excited to volunteer this year and spend time with the tweens all week!

Ashley Kirby was diagnosed with type one diabetes on June 21, 2013. She is currently studying Medical Laboratory Science at Texas Tech University with future plans of joining the medical research field. Ashley has been attending the FFL conference for eight years as both a tween and teen, and is excited to volunteer this year with the Tween Team.

Corey Lackey, hoping to connect with other significant others that are affected by T1D, attended his first Friends for Life conference with his wife Lizzie Lackey (T1) in 2022. He is so grateful for FFL and for it being such a great resource and support for all who are impacted by T1D and is excited to play a bigger part by volunteering in the youth program this year.

Terrence Nevill lives in Coopersburg, PA with his wife Melissa. He has two children: Carly and Gavin. He also has four grandchildren: Grayson, Palmer, Rory, and Bodie. Terrence was an eighth grade science teacher for 35 years. Terrence has been a high school soccer coach for over 30 years. He has attended all but one FFL conference since his first in 2014.

Merrick O’Connell, MSW, LCSW, C-SSW, has worked in the Chicago Public Schools as a school social worker for the last 12 years. Prior she worked in early childhood education with Early Head Start and Head Start. She received a certificate in Infant Mental Health from Erikson Institute as post graduate study. She has a Masters in social work from Loyola University, and clinical licensure was obtained in the states of Illinois and Montana. More recently, she received a national certificate as a school social worker through the National Association of Social Work. Her daughter (Ashya) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was six years old. She will be 17 this summer, and they have had such an amazing journey thanks to the Type 1 Community.

Dave Rudolph is a native of Granite City, Illinois, about 15 minutes outside of St. Louis, Missouri. Dave has worked with teens and tweens in many roles, including five years as a Youth Minister, six years as a Cub Scout Den Leader, and four years as the founder and educator for STEM Voyagers, a non-profit STEM education program for middle schoolers. As a father figure to two adopted children and two step children including Oliver, the family's Type 1 Hero, Dave has tons of life experience teaching, coaching, and loving the kids in his care. As an only child, Dave grew up wanting a big chaotic family, and life has delivered abundantly. Managing a house of four tweens/teens, four dogs, two cats, and a bearded dragon, has well prepared Dave for this volunteer opportunity.

Lauren Sinclair has been surrounded by type 1 diabetes for the last 10 years after her little sister was diagnosed in 2014. After moving to the United States from Glasgow, Scotland, in 2020, her family stumbled upon the Friends for Life conference and fell in love with the community after attending in 2021. Lauren is currently studying music at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and plans to go to graduate school for Audiology in the future. In her free time, Lauren enjoys going to the gym, hanging out with friends, and making music. Lauren is excited to work in the Tween Team this year and make more meaningful connections!

Jonah Smith is from Lemont, Pennsylvania. He has been attending Friends for Life conferecnes since 2007. His sister was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in December of 2006. Ever since then, he and his family has attended. Since it was a very influential aspect of his childhood he strives to have the same positive impact on the future generations of CWD Friends for life.

Jim Stone

Jim Stone attended his first Friends for Life Conference in 2004. His son, Andrew, was diagnosed with type 1 in 1998 at 20 months of age. Jim, wife Julia, and Andrew have all been involved in diabetes advocacy since Andrew’s diagnosis, focusing on diabetes accommodations in school. Jim is a retired Army officer and Public Works manager. He and his wife live in Rolla, Missouri. He has been a Boy Scout leader for many years and enjoys working with the tweens.

Sean Swenarton was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2014 and will be celebrating his 10th year with diabetes at Friends For Life this year. He has been attending Friends for Life Orlando since 2014 and has participated in the tween and teen programs. He will be a Junior at Rutgers University in the fall of 2024, studying Accounting and Sports Management as well as being the Treasurer of the University's Running Club. This is his first year as a volunteer and he is very excited!

Adam Town, BSN, RN, graduated with a Bachelors of Science in nursing from the University of Cincinnati. Adam is a husband to Marissa, who has had type 1 diabetes since she was two, and father to Connor and Everly. He has always enjoyed being a mentor and role model for children and loves to help families, caregivers and significant others of people with diabetes at Friends for Life conferences.

Claudia Velez

Claudia Velez, MSN, RN, CPN, is a bilingual and bicultural pediatric nurse in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is mama to Olivia and wife to Manuel. She has a best friend with type 1 diabetes. After attending Friends for Life Indianapolis in 2022, Claudia worked with the Tween group at Friends for Life Orlando in 2023. She is passionate about working with children, providing support, and empowering families in the community. She is looking forward to learning more about diabetes.


Indicates Tween Team member with diabetes