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Teen Staff

Aaron Cordell is a social studies teacher living in Philadelphia, PA with his girlfriend, Hannah, and their dog, Ruby. He teaches at an alternative high school that services disadvantaged and at-risk youth from North Philadelphia. In his spare time, Aaron enjoys hiking, biking, traveling, and being outdoors. Aaron was introduced to Friends for Life through his girlfriend, Hannah, who was diagnosed with type 1 at age three, and has been attending/volunteering at the conference most of her life. He is very excited to be working with the Teen Staff again this year!

Kevin Covais is an actor, singer, and diabetes advocate. He is most recognized as a Top 12 Finalist on the fifth season of “American Idol,” which aired in 2006. On the show, Kevin was mentored by several award-winning recording artists including Stevie Wonder and Barry Manilow, and he placed 11th overall. Since his “Idol” days, Kevin has transitioned into acting. His credits include a lead role in the 2008 MGM comedy, College, a supporting role in the family film, Touchback, starring Kurt Russell, as well as a role in 2014’s summer blockbuster, Transformers: Age of Extinction. Kevin has also made several television appearances, including a guest star credit on the FOX show, “Raising Hope.” Disney Channel fans know Kevin best as Victor Deleseur on the hit show, “Good Luck Charlie.” Kevin was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11 and has worked with the Diabetes Research Institute for many years. He is thrilled to be a part of Friends for Life again after making his first FFL appearance in 2006.

Jess Forster, MSW, RSW, is a social worker who is passionate about connecting with children and families living and thriving with type 1 diabetes. For the past 11 years, Jess has worked at the Markham Stouffville Hospital Pediatric Diabetes Clinic in Markham Ontario Canada, and she is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Friends For Life conference in Orlando.

Brian Grant, BSN, RN, CDCES, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2003. He loves working with people who have diabetes, and is looking forward to serving as Teen Leader at the Friends for Life Orlando conference. He currently resides in Mechanicsburg, PA and works for Dexcom.

Rayhan Lal, MD, MPH, PhD, is pediatric and adult endocrine faculty at Stanford. Rayhan grew up in the California bay area and always wanted to be an engineer. He has had type 1 diabetes for over 30 years. He studied electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. His two younger sisters were enrolled in DPT-1, were found to be antibody positive, and developed type 1 diabetes. In an effort to help all his brothers and sisters with diabetes, Rayhan decided to switch career paths and pursue clinical medicine at the University of California, Davis. Rayhan could not decide whether to take care of children or adults with diabetes and so did both. He completed a four year residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Southern California, working with the underserved at Los Angeles County Hospital. Rayhan then completed an adult and pediatric endocrine fellowship at Stanford. As an engineer and physician-scientist with diabetes, his primary research interest is the design, development, and testing of new diabetes technology and therapies with his mentor, Dr. Bruce Buckingham. Rayhan collaborates with many members of the Stanford Diabetes Research Center, industry and the open source diabetes community in an effort to bypass the biological, technological and human factor limitations of existing devices.

Hannah Opdenaker was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in February of 1999 and has been attending the Children With Diabetes Conferences since 2001. She is a stage actress with a focus in dance and contemporary theater and movement. After graduating with her Bachelor's degree in Theatre, she now teaches acting and manages a non-profit theater company in Old City, Philadelphia, PA. Hannah is so excited to be back on teen staff with her FFLs. The friends that she has made over the years at CWD truly are her friends for life.

Ernie Prado serves as the Super Guppy Project Engineer in the Aircraft Operations Division at NASA's Johnson Space Center. In this role, he is responsible for maintaining airworthiness of the Guppy, integrating payloads, upgrading systems, assisting Maintenance, supporting sustaining engineering and ensuring mission success. In 2019, the Super Guppy airlifted the Artemis spacecraft between NASA facilities supporting America’s mission to Mars. Previously he worked at the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF) where astronauts train prior to spaceflight. At the SVMF, he led projects to create, maintain, and upgrade full-size International Space Station trainers and mockups that astronauts use to prepare for their missions. In addition to his work at NASA, he is involved in manufacturing large-scale 3D Printers. Ernie holds Bachelor of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering & Aeronautical Sciences and Engineering from UC Davis. He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 15 and has been on an insulin pump since 2011. While wearing an insulin pump and CGM, Ernie has achieved 8Gs in a centrifuge during an Aeromedicine study. In his free time, Ernie enjoys snowboarding, SCUBA diving, crossFit, building Legos, and tinkering.

CWD 2017 Smiley For Faculty 3

Indicates teen staff member with diabetes

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