Founder & Staff

Founder & Staff

Michele Polz, CEO
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, COO
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

Kristy FarnolyKristy Farnoly
Content Strategist

Kristy Farnoly is a content marketing professional with a degree in advertising from West Virginia University and nearly a decade of experience in successfully managing social and content strategies for diverse businesses, including non-profit organizations. Her role as Content Strategist is set to usher in a new era of inspiring and informative content that will connect, support, and empower women living with diabetes.

Alejandra MarquezAlejandra Marquez
Brand Ambassador Lead & Specialty PODS Leader for the Hispanic community

Alejandra Marquez is originally from Venezuela and has built her reputation on her curiosity, strategic thinking, and her known traits of passion, resilience, and enthusiasm. She has experience as a Project Manager in manufacturing and telecommunications. In 2013, she discovered DiabetesSisters and instantly connected with its mission. She has served as the Greensboro PODS Leader.

Alejandra has also volunteered at a community center to assist the Hispanic diabetes community. She has expanded her volunteer work to include non-profits, such as the Junior League of Greensboro and Reading Connections. She has been living with type 1 diabetes since she was 12.

Shelby KinnairdShelby Kinnaird
National Program Lead

Shelby Kinnaird is a consultant, instructor, and author of Diabetes Slow Cooker Cookbook, The Diabetes Cookbook for Electric Pressure Cookers, and The Pocket Carbohydrate Counter Guide for Diabetes. She has been involved with DiabetesSisters since 2017 and currently serves as the PODS Leader for one of the groups in Richmond, Virginia, and our Board of Directors PODS Representative. Shelby is also a member of the American Diabetes Association's Virginia Advocacy Council and has attended several of ADA's Calls to Congress. A former software engineering manager, Shelby holds a BS in Mathematics from Virginia Tech, an MS in Applied Mathematics from Johns Hopkins University, and an MA in Publication Design from the University of Baltimore.

She was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1999.

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.