This past week, our team has been in San Diego hosting the Summer 2017 DiabetesMine D-Data ExChange event, and then we headed straight into the big annual ADA Scientific Sessions happening there, of course. An exciting week all around…

And not least of that is unveiling the results of our 2017 DiabetesMine Patient Voices Contest!

Now in our sixth year hosting this contest, we always enjoy getting to know the various applicants and reading about their ideas — in this case for innovating locally. There are so many great, inspirational people in this community!

We’d like to thank EVERYONE who entered the contest and supported this effort — with a special shout-out to this year’s guest judge, Polina Bryson.

Polina is a psychologist and D-Mom whose daughter was diagnosed with T1D and Celiac in 2013. She’s become an avid activist for both, writing at her blog, T1D and Gluten-Free. She talks a lot about the challenges of building a support system “that fully embraces and supports our entire family, as well as managing burnout for both (our) PWDs and us parents, as her caregivers.” 

As a winner of this contest herself last year, Polina says:

It was an honor to participate in the 2016 DiabetesMine Innovation Summit. I was inspired by the passion and commitment of Summit attendees. It was a unique opportunity to learn from various stakeholders in the fields of diabetes healthcare, technology, research, and advocacy, and to have a meaningful discussion on how to innovatively improve quality of life for all people with diabetes.”


This year’s winners were once again chosen based on the combination of their ideas, passion, background, and expressed reasons for wanting to be part of our annual DiabetesMine Innovation Summit.

They will each receive a full scholarship to attend our 2017 DiabetesMine Innovation Summit, happening on Friday, Nov. 17, at Stanford University School of Medicine.

With that, drumroll please…  we now unveil our 2017 winners (in alphabetical order):

  • Christy Ford Allen – a South Carolina based D-Mom who’s an attorney focused on business and real estate litigation.
    • Local Advocacy Focus: She has a number of sophisticated ideas how to help others “demand and negotiate the insurance benefits available and laws already in place mandating insurance coverage for diabetes drugs and supplies.” 
  • Mindy Bartelson – an active T1 advocate in Massachusetts who most recently served as Communications and Partnerships Coordinator for the College Diabetes Network. She also writes her own D-blog and volunteers training new counselors at a diabetes camp where she used to be a camper.   
    • Local Advocacy Focus: “Leadership development through diabetes camp — to create, cultivate, and encourage the oldest campers at camp to become leaders within the diabetes community.” 
  • Asha Brown – a Minnesota-based activist who founded the nonprofit, devoted to supporting type 1 diabetics who struggle with eating disorders.
    • Local Advocacy Focus: Local dinner meet-ups for PWDs, and a local “text hotline” they could use to call on each other in emergencies.
  • Sarah Picklo Halabu – a young woman in Illinois diagnosed at age 9, who is now a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator. She’s also employed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics where she oversee the country’s largest online nutrition care resource, the Nutrition Care Manual (NCM). 
    • Local Advocacy Focus: She’s working with an app developer to create a diabetes education program in South Africa, that will connect PWDs to educators and physicians. She’s also interested in connecting school nurses to mobile health apps, as well as exploring better access resources for those who live near Canada where insulin is much more affordable.
  • Mandy Jones – a young woman in California who was diagnosed with type 1 five years ago during her senior year at UC Berkeley. She began building a website called in 2014, and more recently worked as the Director of Advocacy for the Diabetes Hands Foundation.  
    • Local Advocacy Focus: Three great ideas – Create a platform like Idealist or Patreon to connect people working on projects to those that want to get involved; an online questionnaire to help patients craft a checklist of important questions to ask their doctor during their next visit to improve the patient/HCP experience; and implementing an educational experience during a doctor’s office wait time “that introduces PWDs to emotional support and health literacy information to improve their decision-making in a confusing healthcare world.”
  • Phyllis Kaplan – a longtime T1D in Massachusetts who spent 17 years in higher education publishing, who’s now volunteering with local organizations to “get something started.”
    • Local Advocacy Focus: She’d like to see a local organization plan a full year of programming, including exercise, healthy eating, psychosocial aspects of living with T1D, dealing with life’s complications (not just diabetes complications), etc. “These could be monthly or quarterly meetings, they could partner with a medical device group field team to create technology-driven local meet ups.” 
  • Karl Rusnak – a type 1 living in Ohio who works as a nonprofit communications professional.
    • Local Advocacy Focus: He advocates for an “Intergenerational Mentorship” program, Big Brothers/Big Sisters style arrangement could connect older diabetics with younger. As diabetes is a lifetime disease, he feels the “veterans” and younger, tech-savvy generation would have a lot to offer each other.
  • Toshana Sledge – a food service manager in Pennsylvania whose 2014 diagnosis with diabetes has inspired her to pursue new career avenues as a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).
    • Local Advocacy Focus: her ideas include organic gardening (the “PWD Garden”) as multi-functioning health benefit, a multi-use test strip, and a drop-off, self testing mechanism for constant A1C monitoring.
  • Seth Tilli – a D-Dad in New Jersey who is “constantly researching to learn about and promote the latest developments and advances in treating his condition.” 
    • Local Advocacy Focus: Last April, just a year after his son’s diagnosis, Seth launched the #typenone watch strap to raise money and awareness for T1D, with all profits (over $3K) going to JDRF and Beyond Type 1. He and his wife actually recently got tattoos of the Beyond Type 1 logo!
  • Maria Wagner – a longtime type 1 and Registered Nurse (RN) at a pediatric endocrinology clinic in Raleigh, North Carolina.
    • Local Advocacy Focus: technology-aided connection and mentoring. She talks about an activity tracker that could both motivate PWDs and connect them directly around reaching their fitness goals throughout the day.


In addition, we’re also proud to announce these two 2017 Stanford Student Scholars, local students who are both part of the Diabetes Community and Stanford Community. They will not receive travel funds, but will be granted complimentary access to our 2017 DiabetesMine Innovation Summit:

  • Divya Gopisetty – sibling of a type 1 child and local Carb DM advocate who is a junior at Stanford studying Human Biology, with a focus in Pediatric Public Health. She works with Dr. Bruce Buckingham’s team on closed loop systems, and with Dr. Korey Hood on T1D resilience in adolescence.
    • Local Advocacy Focus: She helped create the Dia-Buddies mentorship program, in which adolescents who’ve had T1D for at least two years can sign up to be a mentor for newly diagnosed children or teens.
  • Sarah Loebner  – a longtime type 1 who also works with the Stanford Pediatric Endocrinology & Diabetes research team under Bruce Buckingham. She’s applying to Physician’s Assistant school currently to eventually become a PA / CDE for children with diabetes.
    • Local Advocacy Focus: she would like to see an app for crowdsourced carb-counting, and a local school program that teams up T1 parents, students, and health professionals to travel to schools before each Fall to educate on glucagon, common misconceptions, forms of diabetes bullying to be aware of, tech tools, etc. “This team could work with families filing 504 plans for their students to maintain positive relationships with school administration.”

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL! You’ll be hearing from us soon with details on your participation in our Innovation Summit.