2014 Weekend for Women Conference Speakers, Panelists and Contributors - Washington, DC

2014 Weekend for Women Conference Speakers, Panelists and Contributors - Washington, DC

2014 Conference Speakers, Panelist and Contributors
DiabetesSisters is proud to collaborate with a distinguished faculty of diabetes professionals. 

 Judith Jones Ambrosini

Judith has lived with diabetes for over fifty years and has been recognized by Lilly with a Lilly for Life award for journalism and by Medtronic as a Helping Hands calendar recipient. Her diabetes columns, Judith’s Cyber Kitchen and MoTo Move can be found on www.diabetesnet.com.  She has written diabetes publications Diabetes Positive, Diabetes Interview (now Diabetes Health) and Diabetes Self-Management. She is a dedicated proponent and practitioner of daily exercise including dance, tai chi, and cycling.  She is a distance walker having completed several half and full marathons.  Every spring she walks the 32-mile loop around Manhattan Island.

Her first book The Sisterhood of Diabetes: Facing Challenges & Living Dreams is available on Amazon now and will appear in bookstores June 1. The book tells the stories of 44 strong and determined female athletes who redefine past attitude toward diabetes as they motive and inspire.

Erin Akers

Erin Akers

After struggling with diabulimia off and on for six years, Erin founded the Diabulimia Helpline in 2009, a non-profit organization dedicated to support, awareness and advocacy for those struggling with diabetes and eating disorders. Erin is pursuing her Masters degree in Non-Profit Management at Seattle University. She has gained extensive knowledge about the emotional and behavioral aspects of diabetes and how they connect to food and body issues.  Erin can be found in numerous publications, such as Diabetes Forecast, Diabetes Health, and Diabetes care. She has also appeared on Huffington Post Live, NBC News, and Discovery Health Channel.  She launched the Healthcare Professionals Education series on diabulimia in January 2013 and is consulting with Duke University on a research project investigating behavioral triggers around food and insulin in type 1 diabetics.  Erin is a member of Diabetes Advocates, the American Diabetes Association Women’s Workgroup and a National Eating Disorder Association partner.  

Brandy Barnes, MSW

Brandy Barnes is the Founder and CEO of DiabetesSisters, an international 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to improve the health and quality of life of women with diabetes; and to to advoate on their behalf.  Since founding the organizanization in 2008, Brandy has created an international network of more than 10,000 women with diabetes who provide encouragement, education, and empowerment to each other through a variety of online and in-person programs. Among her accomplishments while at the helm of DiabetesSisters are the development of the organization's signature peer support program (PODS Meetup Program) which is now available in over 40 cities throughout the US and the creation of the Weekend for Women Conference (now in its seventh year), which has served over 1,000 women with diabetes and their partners. 

Brandy holds a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has lived with diabetes for more than 24 years and has written numerous publications and articles about the social, emotional and physical impact of diabetes on women and the intrinsic value of peer support.  Her latest publication, A Woman's Guide to Diabetes: A Path to Wellness, is scheduled for release by the American Diabetes Association in late 2014. She resides in Durham, NC, with her husband, Chris and daughter, Summer.

Asha Brown

 Asha is the Founder of the organization We Are Diabetes; an organization devoted to providing support for type 1 diabetics who struggle with an eating disorder. Asha has lived with Type 1 Diabetes since she was five years old. She is a member of both The ADA Woman and Diabetes Subcommittee, as well as Diabetes Advocates, and has devoted the last five years of her life to spreading the awareness of the deadly eating disorder diabulimia that has become prevalent in the type 1 diabetic community. Asha has worked first-hand with families, patients, educators and medical professionals in an effort to educate them about type 1 diabetics with eating disorders and to promote better treatment options for those who are suffering.

Connie Hanham Cain, RN, BSN, CDE

Connie Hanham-Cain RN, BSN, CDE has been living with type 1 diabetes since the age of eight.  Her experiences as a research participant in the DCCT during the 1980s inspired her to follow the calling of becoming a nurse and a CDE to reach out to other people with diabetes.  Her professional background includes extensive experience in the application of holistic nursing, therapeutic dance and movement techniques, and energy healing modalities for chronic physical, emotional and psychological health challenges.  She has served as a Diabetes Resource Coordinator for two community based health care organizations in upstate NY, and she has many additional years of clinical experience as a mental health nurse and diabetes educator with people of all ages.  

Publications include "My Sweet Life: Successful Women with Diabetes" as a contributing author, and a contributing author/editor for "Managing Diabetes: Complications and Comorbidities" published by the AADE.  In her community, she has the pleasure and honor to work with a great team of DiabetesSisters' volunteers and they serve together as Northeast PODS Champions for DiabetesSisters.  In addition, she has been dancing since childhood and has studied, practiced, performed, and taught belly dance and creative movement to women and girls of all ages and physical abilities for many years. As a woman with T1 diabetes, she has been using belly dance and creative movement techniques as her preferred form of physical exercise since age 19. Connie is proud to be a Joslin 50 Year Medalist.

Helene Clayton-Jeter, OD

Helene D. Clayton-Jeter, OD is a Patient and Health Professional Liaison in the Office of Health and Constituent Affairs (OHCA), Office of External Affairs in the Office of the Commissioner at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  She assists in planning, developing, and evaluating FDA policies and programs related to patients and health care professionals. The office also manages FDA’s MedWatchPatient Representative and Patient Network Programs.   Dr. Clayton-Jeter has been a healthcare provider and advocate for patients in the community as a representative of Medical Care for Children Partnerships and the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Prevent Blindness America. In her role at OHCA, she serves as a channel through which health professional and patient issues and viewpoints can be brought to the attention of FDA medical and regulatory staff. She also works with health professionals, health professional organizations, patients and patient advocacy groups on issues related to the FDA drug approval process, clinical trials and access to investigational therapies.  Providing FDA representation at scientific and policy meetings related to life-threatening diseases and other special health concerns is another aspect of her role at OHCA. Dr. Clayton-Jeter manages the FDA’s Cardiovascular and Endocrine Liaison Program, web page and Diabetes Monitor subscriber email.  She serves as the OHCA subject-matter-expert in the optometry/ophthalmology arena, is a liaison to the Center for Device and Radiological Health and sits on the Department of Health and Human Services Health Disparities Council. She has published ophthalmic-related and patient-centered articles.  Dr. Clayton-Jeter has given presentations to a variety of audiences on various issues, including diabetes, cardiovascular, ophthalmic, and health disparity related topics. Dr. Clayton-Jeter has an O.D. (Doctor of Optometry) degree from Pennsylvania College of Optometry at SalusUniversity and holds a B.S. degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.  She practiced clinical optometry in a variety of healthcare settings for 21 years prior to joining the staff at the Office of Health and Constituent Affairs.

Lisa Clough, MS, Ed, CHES

Lisa Clough is a career healthcare communications professional with experience in communications agencies and national non-profit patient and physician organizations. Lisa has worked in a variety of therapeutic areas (including 10 years in cardiology), mental health, women’s health, and fitness, and has worked on national award winning campaigns on healthy aging. At WomenHeart, Lisa serves as Vice President of Public and Patient Programs and oversees communications and marketing initiatives that include partnership and sponsorship development; communications support to program and advocacy efforts; National Hospital Alliance partnerships; corporate partner deliverables, from national media efforts, to the development of patient education programs; and patient support and volunteer services. Lisa is a graduate of the University of Maryland’s Phillip Merrill School of Journalism (BS), and Virginia Tech (MS Ed. Health Education and Health Promotion); is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES), a Certified Personal Trainer, a Certified Nutrition Consultant, and a Disaster Public Affairs Specialist (volunteer) for the American Red Cross. Lisa lives in McLean, VA with her husband and two dogs and has two adult children and a grandson.

Ana Fadich, MPH, CHES

Ana Fadich serves as Vice President at Men’s Health Network (MHN). Her work involves the implementation of various programs and services related to outreach, promotion, and education. MHN is a national non-profit, educational health organization dedicated to improving the health and well being of men and their families, where they live, work, play and pray. As a certified health educator (CHES), Ana develops targeted disease education materials & programs for men and their families on various health topics and leads discussions with participants at various community events in an effort to reduce health disparities that exist in underserved communities in the US. She has been featured as an expert in many print and online media outlets as well as radio and television, and has presented at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Federal Government Agencies, American Public Health Association (APHA,) corporate employer sites, and conferences.  Ana represents MHN at prostate cancer advocacy, research, and policy meetings.

Ana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles, CA, and a Master’s of Public Health degree from the University of Southern California. She currently resides in Arlington, VA.

Claudia Graham, MPH, PhD

 Claudia Graham joined Dexcom as its Vice President of Marketing in September 2008 and led the successful launches of the Seven Plus and the G4 PLATINUM CGM systems. Globally recognized as a thought leader in access to diabetes technologies, Claudia became Vice President of Global Access in early 2013, and is responsible for strategic reimbursement, health economics, government relations and advocacy – focused on improving access to CGM for patients and physicians both domestically and internationally.

She received her PhD from the University of Southern California and her Masters of Public Health from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to Dexcom, she was Vice President of Marketing & Product Development at MiniMed, and subsequently served as Vice President of Global Access Therapy at Medtronic. Before her work began in the medical device sector, she was a Director of Marketing for Warner Lambert (Parke-Davis).   She has served on various national and local advisory boards serving the medical community including the national board of the Medical Marketing Association of America, the community board of directors for the Northridge Hospital Medical Center and the San Diego and Los Angeles chapters of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She has been professionally active in the diabetes community for many years, having presented and published articles at scientific conferences of the ADA, EASD and others.

Rhonda Merwin, PhD

Rhonda M. Merwin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center. She received her PhD from the University of Mississippi and completed her predoctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship at Duke before joining the faculty in 2008. Dr. Merwin has expertise in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and specializes in the treatment of disordered eating and body image, generally and specifically in the context of diabetes. Her research on mechanisms of eating disorder development among individuals with type 1 diabetes is supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 


Diana Naranjo, PhD

Diana Naranjo, PhD,  is a psychologist at the Madison Clinic for Pediatric Diabetes at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. She provides behavioral interventions for patients with type 1 diabetes to improve diabetes outcomes, reduce stress and depression and manage chronic disease from a family-centered perspective. She also runs monthly psychosocial groups for young adults with diabetes. Dr. Naranjo speaks English and Spanish and serves as a bicultural provider to Latinos. She is particularly interested in reducing health disparities and improving services for ethnic minority patients and their families.

Dr. Naranjo earned a PhD at Arizona State University with a focus in child health psychology and completed a clinical psychology internship at Boston Children's Hospital, affiliated with Harvard Medical School, followed by a fellowship at UCSF in Family and Community Medicine, as part of the Behavioral Diabetes Research Group. She is a member of the American Psychological Association, National Latino Psychological Association, American Diabetes Association and American Pediatric Association.

Anna Norton, MS

Anna Norton is the Operations Manager of DiabetesSisters and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida and a Master of Science from Florida International University.  She has spent her professional career in the non-profit sector, managing volunteers and fundraising for large healthcare instituations and public universities.  

Anna has lived with type1 diabetes for over 20 years and has been featured on DSMA En Vivo and in Cheryl Alkon's book, Balancing Pregnancy with Pre-Exisiting Diabetes. Her greatest diabetes triumph is leading a full and complete life, including marrying her husband, Mike, in 2005 and welcoming their healthy son, Patrick, in 2007.  She resides in Cary, North Carolina.

Lorainne Platka-Bird, PhD, RD, Dietitian, Nutrition Therapist

 Dr.Lorraine Platka-Bird received her doctorate from Michigan State University in 1980 with a major in human nutrition and a minor in psychology. She became a registered dietitian in 1982.

As a dedicated professor in the Nutrition and Dietetics Department at the State University of New York for 19 years, Dr. Platka-Bird taught a wide variety of courses including Weight Management, Medical Nutrition Therapy, Nutritional Biochemistry, Sports Nutrition, Human Physiology, Nutrition Across the Life Span, and numerous related courses. During this period of time Dr. Platka-Bird was granted some of the most prestigious teaching awards offered in the State University system.

Dr. Platka-Bird has been counseling individuals with eating disorders for over 25 years. She takes a holistic approach to treatment, considering all aspects of physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being. In addition to helping clients develop a healthy relationship with food, Dr. Platka-Bird helps individuals minimize eating disorder thoughts and behaviors, improve self-image and self-esteem, and develop healthy coping skills and life skills to improve overall quality of life.

Valerie L. Rochester

Valerie L. Rochester is a longtime public health professional, with more than 23 years of experience providing programmatic, administrative, management and capacity building training and technical assistance services.  As Director of Programs and Training with the Black Women’s Health Imperative, she manages the organization’s national and community-level health initiatives to address the health inequities that disproportionately impact Black women.  She guides the organization’s response to address the priority health issues of HIV/AIDS, breast and cervical cancer, sexual health and reproductive justice, and conditions such as diabetes and heart disease among Black women.

Her recognition as a health advocate, health educator and trainer led to her serving for 10 years as the convener of the HIV/AIDS Institute with the U.S Conference on AIDS, the largest HIV/AIDS conference in the country, as well as serving as program manager for the National Council of Negro Women; Director of Minority Health for the state of Indiana; and Human Services Planner for the United Way of Central Indiana. She has provided independent consultant services to health and human service agencies nationwide, and has designed health education and prevention programs for communities across the country. Because of her commitment to addressing health inequities in communities of color, Ms. Rochester received the Congressional Black Caucus Healthcare Hero Award in 2002 at the annual Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, presented to her by Congresswoman Donna Christensen.  

Gary Scheiner, MS, CDE

An award-winning Certified Diabetes Educator, Masters-level Exercise Physiologist and person with type-1 diabetes since 1985, Gary Scheiner has dedicated his professional life to improving the lives of people with insulin-dependent diabetes.  He has recently been named 2014 CDE of the year by the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Gary earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master of Science from Benedictine University. He received his diabetes training with the world-renowned Joslin Diabetes Center.  Gary serves on the faculty of Children With Diabetes and is an active volunteer for the American Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Diabetes Exercise & Sports Association, and Setebaid Diabetes Camps.  He also serves on the clinical advisory boards for several diabetes device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies.

Gary has authored five books: You Can Control Diabetes (1997), Think Like A Pancreas (2004), The Ultimate Guide to Accurate Carb Counting (2007), Get Control of Your Blood Sugar (2009) and Think Like A Pancreas, 2nd edition (2011) as well as dozens of articles for consumer and trade magazines and diabetes websites.  He speaks at local, national and international conferences on a multitude of topics in diabetes care.

Gary has received multiple awards for his diabetes education and teaching innovations from the American Diabetes Association and American Association of Diabetes Educators.  Most recently, Gary was awarded theAADE's 2014 Diabetes Educator of the Year.

A devoted husband and father of five, Gary enjoys exercising (especially basketball, bicycling, running and kickboxing) and cheering on his local Philadelphia sports teams.

Cherise Shockley

 Cherise was diagnosed with LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adult) at the age of 23. When she was diagnosed, she was a newlywed and her husband was stationed in Iraq. She was alone and did not know anyone with Type 1 or LADA. She turned to the internet in search for answers and understanding but there wasn’t enough information for people that are living with LADA. A few years after her diagnoses Cherise became insulin dependent and that’s when she found TuDiabetes.org; she realized that wasn’t alone. She found her voice and the voices of others living with all types of diabetes.

She began blogging about diabetes in hopes to inspire and help people with diabetes. She started DSMA to bring the community together for a once a week chat about all things diabetes, support, awareness and education as a way to give back to the diabetes community and show how powerful peer support and social media can be for people with diabetes, their family members and other advocates.

The twitter chat grew, and the need to reach out to others grew heavy on the organization. In November 2010, DSMA Live: Continuing the Conversation was created, and recently, added DSMA en Vivo, DSMA Live: Parents Talk and DSMA: Diabetic Feed.  November 14, 2010, The Blue Fridays initiative was created to encourage people to wear blue every Friday and on World Diabetes Day to raise awareness for diabetes.  

Kerri Sparling

Kerri Sparling has been living with type 1 diabetes for over 27 years, diagnosed just before she started second grade.  She believes that, “Diabetes doesn’t define me, but it helps explain me.”

Kerri is the creator and author of www.SixUntilMe.com, one of the first and most widely-read diabetes patient blogs, started in May 2005. She has contributed to many diabetes-related websites and publications, and is a passionate advocate for diabetes awareness.  Focusing on the psychosocial side of diabetes and how peer-to-peer connections can impact diabetes management, Kerri presents regularly at new media conferences.  Her first book, Balancing Diabetes: Conversations about finding happiness and living well, was released in March 2014.

Kerri and her husband, Chris, live in Rhode Island with their daughter.

Natalie Strand, MD

 Dr. Natalie Strand, is a practicing Pain Management Anesthesiologist and a spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and dLife, an organization promoting wellness for people with diabetes. She has appeared on CNN/HLN, "The Early Show", "The Rachael Ray Show", CNBC, and CBS. 

Dr. Natalie Strand’s childhood was full of culture and travel. Mayan ruins and Moroccan architectural tours were part of her childhood family vacations.  Nat spent a semester at Oxford University studying the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and William Wordsworth followed by a semester in the Provence region of France where she focused on art history and Egyptian archaeology. After returning to University of Arizona, Dr. Strand chose to pursue medicine, majoring in molecular and cellular biology with minors in chemistry, math, and physics.  In college, she studied subjects such as linguistic anthropology, jazz history, and African-American history.  After attending medical school at the Mayo Clinic, she completed her residency training at the University of California, Los Angeles.

After doing a post-graduate fellowship in pain management, she competed in and won "The Amazing Race" on CBS.  Along with her teammate, Kat Chang, she became part of the first female team to with "The Amazing Race". She enjoys scuba diving, running, biking, travel, lecturing, speaking French, teaching medical students, and inspiring people to challenge their limitations.

Ginger Vieira, Diabetes Coach and Author

 Author of Emotional Eating with Diabetes and Your Diabetes Science Experiment, Ginger Vieira has lived with type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease since 1999. Today, she is a Diabetes Coach in her own business, Living in Progress, where she coaches people across the country on the phone in their emotional and physical health. With a B.S. in Professional Writing from Champlain College, she is a certified cognitive coach, personal trainer, and Ashtanga yoga instructor. You can find her freelance-writing work at DiabetesDaily.com, InsulinNation.com, Diabetes Forecast magazine, and Vermont's SevenDays newspaper.

Well-known in the diabetes online community, Ginger has built a following of over 3,500 friends on Facebook, largely due to her 40+ video blogs on life with diabetes at her YouTube channel, and inspiring history as a competitive powerlifter. During 2009 and 2010, she set 15 records in drug-tested powerlifting with her best lifts including a 308 lb. deadlift, 190 lb. bench-press, and a 265 lb. squat. 

Susan Weiner, RD, MS, CDE, CDN

Susan Weiner is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with a successful private practice in New York. Susan's new book "The Complete Diabetes Organizer: Your Guide to a Less Stressful and More Manageable Diabetes Life", Spry publishing 2013 is the first "how-to" book on diabetes organization. She co-authored the book with a world-class certified professional organizer to help people with diabetes manage and improve their lives.

Susan was a contributing medical producer for dLifeTV and serves as a member of dLife's prestigious medical advisory board. She has been interviewed on TV many times regarding nutrition and diet. Susan is a nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator for the diabetes program for TheBestLife.com, a prominent health and weight loss website. Susan writes for the Walgreens publication "Diabetes & You" as well as several other diabetes publications. Previously, she served as the the lead CDE for DiabetesSisters. She co-authored the "Medical Nutrition Therapy for Anemia" chapter for Krause's Food and the Nutrition Care Process 13th Edition, published August 2011. Susan will be co-authoring the anemia chapter for the 14th edition as well. She is a valued contributor on a variety of nutrition topics – primarily weight management, diabetes and PCOS.

Susan is a well-respected lecturer for organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine, and was the official sports nutritionist for the American Diabetes Association Walk America program. She was an adjunct professor of nutrition at Queens College for more than 13 years and taught at the Academy of Applied Personal Training Education at Hofstra University. Susan earned her Master's Degree in Applied Physiology and Nutrition from Columbia University. She is certified in "Adult Weight Management" through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Eileen Williams

Eileen Williams is an emergency medical technician from Manassas, VA. She worked in emergency medical settings, then shifted her focus to teaching EMT courses. One day, at the end of a 24-hour shift at the firehouse where she worked, she started feeling pain in her neck and having other symptoms that resembled a heart attack. However, she waited 12 hours to call 911 for an ambulance to take her to the hospital. At 43 years old, she’d had a heart attack.

As a WomenHeart Champion and former WomenHeart Support Network Coordinator, she shares her story with other women and warns them not to wait before going to the emergency room if they feel they are having the symptoms of a heart attack. Through her public outreach, speaking engagements and the media, she teaches women to take care of their heart health.