Founder & Staff

Founder & Staff

Anna Norton, MS
CEO

Hi, I’m Anna Norton and I am the CEO of DiabetesSisters. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1993 and manage the disease with an insulin pump (since 2000) and CGM (since 2010). I’ve been involved with DiabetesSisters since 2011, serving as a committee member for the Weekend for Women Conference. In 2012, I joined the DiabetesSisters staff as Operations Manager, overseeing the National PODS Meetup Program, the National Weekend for Women Conference Series, website development, and many of the daily functions of the organization. Today, I am honored to serve women with diabetes in the CEO role.

I currently reside outside of Chicago, Illinois and have lived in North Carolina, New Jersey and Florida. I am a proud graduate of the University of Florida (BS 1998) and Florida International University (MS 1999). I’ve spent many years in the non-profit world, raising funds for United Way, medical centers and universities, with over 15 years' experience in Annual Giving, Major Gifts, and Event Planning. I am also bilingual in English and Spanish.

As a woman with diabetes, I am passionate about the work DiabetesSisters does - when I learned of this organization, I was eager to become involved and help make a difference in the lives of other women like me. Over the last several years, I have forged great friendships through this organization and have established a wonderful support group. My hope is to continue to learn from the experiences of each Sister and hopefully, offer some of my own experiences.

In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and son. I also love reading, traveling to Disney World, Zumba, water aerobics, and going to the movies. Please reach out to me at anna@diabetessisters.org - I’m looking forward to getting to know you!


Sarah MartSarah Mart, MS, MPH
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

Hi everyone! I'm Sarah Mart, director of operations for DiabetesSisters as of March 2016. I have lived with diabetes since I was seven years old, when I was diagnosed with type 1.

In my professional life, I served as research director for an alcohol policy nonprofit in northern California for the last 7 years. Before that I worked for 13 years in higher education, leading health promotion & prevention programs for and with college students in Minnesota, Montana, San Francisco, & central New York. And when I was in high school and undergrad, I worked as a junior counselor and counselor at Camp Diamont, a summer camp for kids with diabetes that I attended as a youngster.  From 4th grade through college, that one week at diabetes camp each summer was my best week ever: seven days where I felt normal and surrounded by peers, both kids and adults, who "get" what my life with diabetes is like, because they live it too. I'm still in touch with friends from diabetes camp (thanks, social media!), and many of them are soulsisters to me - diabetes sisters, if you will.

While some parts of diabetes management such as urine testing, painful syringes, and  food exchanges have improved in the last 35 years, we all still face far too many challenges from this chronic disease. But the power and strength from sisters who "get it" makes it easier to navigate the bumps in our d-journeys, and celebrate the successes.

That's why I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to work for and with DiabetesSisters in this capacity. As director of operations, I'm responsible for administrative functions and in-person programming, and assisting Anna with many other projects and priorities. Whether through a monthly PODS meetup, PODS leaders call, Leadership Conference, or online through a blog post or webinar, I hope you find helpful support, resources, and advocacy here to lift you on your diabetes path - and that you continue to realize your own strength and power along the way. I'd love to hear from you about how it's going - feel free to ping me at sarah@diabetessisters.org.

P.S. So as not to be all diabetes, all the time, a few other notes about me: I love theatre (Broadway musicals and plays), travel (urban and rural), music (especially summer concerts at smaller amphitheaters), Disneyland, mountains, singing (mezzo soprano), and I'm a bit of a foodie. I also love to hang out with my wonderful wife of 21 years and our 10-year old daughter.


Karen GraffeoKaren Graffeo
PROGRAM MANAGER

Hi there!  I’m Karen and I joined the DiabetesSisters staff as Program 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 Program Manager, overseeing our social media engagement on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  I also manage our website here, and create content for our monthly e-newsletter.  Please feel free to drop me a line at karen@diabetessisters.org.

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 and the worlds most adorable cat.  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
FOUNDER

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.

Click HERE to read about Brandy's 'Ah Ha!' Diabetes Moment