The Conference Faculty

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.

Jeff Hitchcock is the founder, president, and Chief Executive Officer 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. Jeff also serves on the Board of Directors for the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC). Jeff received the 2021 ISPAD Hero Award for his work on Children with Diabetes.

Allyson Hughes

Allyson S. Hughes, PhD, is an expert in diabetes, disability, and health policy. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1995. She is an assistant professor at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine in the department of Primary Care. Her goal is to elevate the voice of people with diabetes and their family members. She is a member of ADA's Health Disparities committee, the chair of the ADCES Research Committee, and a member of Diabetes Care's Editorial Board.

Jeff Karitis, CFP®, CEPA®, is a Wealth Managment Advisor based in New York City, were he and his group have been providing wealth management strategies for a select group of business owners, executives and families since 1999. He holds the CFP® (CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional) and CEPA (Certified Exit Planning Advisor) designations. Jeff resides in New York's Hudson Valley with his family and retired racing greyhounds. Previously, he served as Co-President of his local JDRF Chapter and on the Executive Board of the Great NYC Chapter. His daughter was diagnosed with T1D in 2014 and their family have been attending Friends for Life Orlando since 2016. Jeff has been volunteering since 2021 as co-lead of the DoFFLs group.

Amanda Kaufman is the Communications Associate for DPAC. She has been living with Type 1 Diabetes since 2011 and currently resides in Los Angeles. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University in 2021 with a B.A. in International Studies and an M.S. in Healthcare Management, she worked with organizations such as JDRF and The Diabetes Link before joining DPAC in 2022. She manages all DPAC and DLC social media accounts.

Chelsea Lugone, FNP-BC, CDCES, is a PWD, diagnosed at age 23. Two of her children, Kate and Ryan, also live with T1D. Chelsea's diagnosis led her to pursue a career in diabetes care. She is Nurse Practitioner at PennState Health's Pediatric Diabetes Clinic in Hershey, PA. Additionally, she volunteers with the Central & Western PA JDRF's Community Outreach and Board. She is a compensated member of Dexcom's speaker bureau. Her life passion is to do everything she can to help people living with and impacted by diabetes to live their healthiest and best lives with diabetes! Continuing to be informed about diabetes, getting support, embracing change, diabetes tech, a positive mindset, and remembering to give herself grace; no one and no person's diabetes is perfect is her approach to living a healthy and fulfilling life with diabetes!

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.

Jennifer Sherr, MD, PhD, was determined to become a pediatric endocrinologist since the time of her diagnosis with type 1 diabetes in 1987. While she always wanted to care for those with T1D, her eyes were opened to the meaningful impact that clinical research has. Dr. Sherr has since been devoted to clinical research for over 15 years. She serves as a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Yale and focuses on methods, including new technologies and therapeutics, to improve the lives of all people living with diabetes.

Jamie R. Wood, MD, is a Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. She is the Medical Director of the Diabetes Program and the Mary Blossom Lee Chair in Pediatric Diabetes at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a pediatric endocrinologist who specializes in the clinical care of youth with type 1 diabetes. Dr. Wood is involved in many clinical research projects that focus on clinical outcomes, emerging diabetes technology and therapeutics. She is the Medical Director of Camp Ho Mita Koda, a camp for youth with diabetes. She loves to help youth, young adults and families thrive with type 1 diabetes.

Sarah Wood

Sarah Wood is a Policy Associate for the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition and Babbage Cofounder. Sarah's focus primarily lies on state-level policy initiatives, where she advocates for legislation that ensures accessible and affordable medication for people living with diabetes and other chronic conditions. Prior to her tenure at DPAC, she served as a Fulbright Fellow in Ukraine, where she taught English, fostered cultural exchange, and contributed to projects promoting equal educational opportunities to children living in conflict-affected regions. Sarah holds a Master's degree in International Security and Diplomacy and a Bachelor's degree in Russian Language and Integrated Strategic Communication from the University of Kentucky.


Indicates faculty member with diabetes