National Volunteer Appreciation Week: Spotlight on Minnesota

It’s National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and we’re celebrating people in action to Stop Diabetes®. Let’s meet Marty and Jenni from the Minnesota area.


Marty and Jenni from Minnesota

Jenni Hargraves and Marty Paradise at the 2011 CVLC in San Diego

About three years ago, I decided to find a cause where I could put my skills and experience to work (I used to be a General Manager at Microsoft). While I had supported various causes financially over the years, I had never really volunteered for anything in a sustainable way.

As a person living with type 1 diabetes for more 15 years at the time, I figured the American Diabetes Association might make sense. I knew about it from my monthly subscription to Diabetes Forecast, but I didn’t know they had a local office, staff or programs in Minnesota.

Out of the blue, I emailed Jenni Hargraves to ask about volunteer opportunities. “Don’t know where to start or who to contact, but I figured I would start with you,” I told her.

I really didn’t know what to expect, and I was surprised to learn about the reach of the Association’s programs for type 1, type 2 and prediabetes and the many opportunities to volunteer in our area.

Shortly after our first meeting, I joined the Tour de Cure committee and the Minnesota Community Leadership Board (CLB), where I started working on a corporate giving strategy. During my second year as a volunteer, I was asked to chair the Minnesota Tour de Cure.

Then, about this time last year, Jenni recruited me to lead the CLB in 2012. Suddenly, I was “all in”! I attended the 2011 Community Volunteer Leadership Conference in San Diego with other chairs and chair-elects from across the country (see picture). I am also on this year’s National Community and Volunteer Development Committee.

The rewards of volunteering are many. I feel like I can make a difference by translating my business leadership experience into results that benefit the Association. I love working with Association staff, both locally and nationally. I would even say that I pay more attention to my own diabetes care and management as a result of this relationship.

Best part: I get to connect with others who dedicate their time and energy to Stop Diabetes. And as someone who lives with diabetes, that’s the greatest reward of all.

Marty Paradise
Volunteer and Chair, Community Leadership Board, Minnesota and North Dakota
Member, National Community and Volunteer Development Committee
American Diabetes Association


I’ve worked for the American Diabetes Association for 15 years and have had the great opportunity to work with many different volunteers. As the voice of people affected by diabetes, volunteers provide the passion behind our mission, help drive our vision forward and enhance the reach of our organization.

Staff resources are limited, so engaging volunteers with skill sets different from those on our team has been essential to our market’s success. Volunteers can be knowledgeable of marketing, media, banking, human resources, strategic planning, metric development, technology, fundraising, sales, healthcare, you name it. They can help us launch new partnerships, even mentor the staff—and it all adds to the strength of the Association and what we are able to accomplish.

Honestly, working with volunteers is the best part of my job. I love hearing their stories, finding out what they are the most passionate about and identifying the best opportunity to fit them.

When I first met with Marty, I knew that he would have fun cycling in our Tour de Cure and, given his background, he would be an asset to our Community Leadership Board. As we collaborated together, I knew his volunteer career path would eventually take him to a national committee—and maybe one day the Board of Directors.

I learn a great deal from our volunteers, and I am humbled by their dedication and commitment to Stop Diabetes. Thank you.

Jenni Hargraves
Executive Director
American Diabetes Association of Minnesota and North Dakota


Want to help us Stop Diabetes? Sign up at our new online Volunteer Center to be matched to an opportunity in your area.

Know an outstanding American Diabetes Association volunteer? Be sure to tell us about them in the comments below!

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One Response to National Volunteer Appreciation Week: Spotlight on Minnesota

  1. Pingback: Tour de Cure: Why I Volunteer |

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