Founder & Staff

Founder & Staff

Michele Polz, Board Member, Immediate Past Chair

Hi, I am excited to act as CEO as DiabetesSisters enters our next phase. I am the founder and principal of M1 Consulting, with a passion and goal to collaborate with clients to design impactful data-driven customer acquisition and retention models leading to bottom-line results. I advise within Digital Health Technology, Biotech/Pharma companies from early discovery through life-cycle management, focusing on integrated care and value-based models. Before consulting, I spent six years in Life Sciences, both at Sanofi and Biogen, where I was responsible for the development and operationalizing modern consumer strategies that led to new approaches to connect to the patient and the care networks across the lifecycle; improving the overall customer experience. I am an advocate for putting the patient first.

Please reach out to me at - I’m looking forward to getting to know you!

Donna Rice MBA, BSN, RN, CDCES, FADCES, Board Member, Past Chair

Hi, I am thrilled to act as COO for DiabetesSisters. I am a registered nurse and a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist, a national and international thought leader, and the author of four books and numerous peer-reviewed and consumer publications. I'm also a Past President of the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists and have held numerous positions on state and national committees related to diabetes care. I'm currently the Chief Evangelist for Call-ai, working on voice-driven ai for diabetes care and education since October 2022, and have recently served as the Chief Strategy and Population Health Officer for The Root Cause, working on diabetes in high-risk communities. Prior to The Root Cause, I was a Senior Medical Director for Sanofi, focused on Integrated Care and Digital Engagement. I was also appointed the President of the Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute for Baylor Health Care Systems in Dallas, Texas.

I'm proud to have been a board member of DiabetesSisters since 2015 and to have served as Chair from 2018 to 2019. You can reach me at

Karen GraffeoKaren Graffeo

Hi there! I’m Karen and I joined the DiabetesSisters staff as Content Manager in September of 2017. I’ve lived with Type 1 diabetes since 1979, diagnosed in December of that year at age 11. I grew up feeling very isolated in my diabetes life, which helps me appreciate being connected to a vast diabetes community now. I’ve been volunteering with DiabetesSisters since 2014, hosting the monthly Virtual PODS support group meetups. I’ve also been involved with the diabetes online community since creating my patient blog, Bitter-Sweet, in 2008. In 2010 I founded Diabetes Blog Week, an annual online event aimed at helping to connect and unite bloggers with all types of diabetes through a week of blogging. I’ve also served as content creator and moderator at DiabetesSistersVoices, an online community focusing on research needs of women living with diabetes.

I’m thrilled to be DiabetesSisters Content Manager, overseeing our social media engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. I also manage our website, and create content for our monthly e-newsletter. Please feel free to drop me a line at

When not engrossed in all things diabetes (because we all need a break sometimes), I love to hang at home in Connecticut with my husband. My favorite hobbies right now are cooking and baking, and I’ve been working on getting my skills up to the next level.

Brandy Barnes, MSW - Founder & CEOBrandy Barnes, MSW

Brandy Barnes founded DiabetesSisters in 2008 and served as the organization’s CEO until 2015. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 15 (1990), she quickly dove into learning all she could about the disease. The more she learned, the more she wanted to help others with the disease.

In college, she majored in Psychology to better understand the mind-body connection in chronic disease management. She then earned a master’s degree in social work. During this time, she also worked full-time in diabetes research. She later worked at Sanofi as a Senior Sales Professional.

It was during her pregnancy with her daughter that she began to feel isolated and overwhelmed. She could not find specific resources for women with diabetes going through pregnancy. Thus began her vision for DiabetesSisters, a place where women with diabetes could get answers and support. The organization’s website came to fruition in January 2008 and a year later, on January 21, 2009, the federal government recognized DiabetesSisters as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

Since then, DiabetesSisters has grown exponentially. With more than 12,000 members, the organization offers both online and in-person programing, such as online forums, blogs and expert articles, a monthly eNewsletter, webinars, National Conferences, Leadership Institute, and monthly peer support meetups throughout the United States.