Working for the American Diabetes Association® means making a difference for millions of people and working toward a future free of diabetes and all its burdens.
We all have a story to share. Some of us live with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes or prediabetes. Others have loved ones with the disease or have lost someone to the fight.
The following are personal stories from the Association’s staff about why we are so committed to the mission to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.
Corporate Development Officer
“The sky is the wrong color blue!”
This is one phrase I use a lot to describe life with type 1 diabetes. It is a phrase I learned after I was diagnosed in 1995 and had the opportunity to attend Camp Needlepoint in Hudson, Wisconsin. The experience I had at this diabetes camp was incredible, and I believe it really shaped the person I am today.
When I arrived at camp at age 16, I had been diagnosed with diabetes only three months earlier. This was my first time getting to meet other kids with diabetes. It was the most amazing experience to be surrounded by others who made me feel, for the first time in months, “normal.” While I was at camp I learned so much, from carbohydrate counting to how to use an insulin pump, as well as how other people my age lived with diabetes every day.
After camp, I decided that I wanted to go on an insulin pump. At that time (1995), it was very uncommon for someone under the age of 18 to use one. After I proved my diabetes knowledge base over several months, my doctor allowed me to go on the pump.
Since Camp Needlepoint had been such an incredible experience for me, I started to volunteer my time, first as a camp counselor and then on the medical staff as a Certified Insulin Pump Trainer. Knowing what the American Diabetes Association had given to me through my experience at Camp Needlepoint, I decided that I wanted to work for the organization and make an impact for others living with diabetes.
After finishing graduate school, I took a job in New Jersey working on the Tour de Cure®, the Association’s premier cycling event. After a year in the New Jersey office, I transferred to Minnesota to work on the American Diabetes Association Minnesota Gala and the Diabetes EXPO. I quickly found that my passion for serving those with diabetes came through my ability to work with companies who funded our mission, whether by supporting an event, program or awareness campaign. Now I’m proud to serve as the Corporate Development Officer for the Midwest region, working with companies to find the best way they can support our mission and those affected by diabetes.
What keeps me motivated to live well with diabetes are my greatest accomplishments, my children—Alex, age 8, and Zach, age 4. Having diabetes while pregnant was challenging, not only because I needed to keep my blood sugar between 70 and 140, but also because I had what felt like a million doctor appointments. This taught me that diabetes is like a marathon: You can’t focus too much on one number or the next; it’s about the entire race.
After living with diabetes for 21 years, one thing I’ve learned is that it is unpredictable. You can do the same things, eat the same things and still end up with a different result. My answer to this blood sugar uncertainty is what I learned at camp many years ago: Sometimes, the only answer is “the sky is the wrong color blue” that day.
I work hard every day to raise funds not only to help everyone live well with diabetes, but also to help find a cure—and not just for myself, but for everyone. Alex often asks me about what is happening in diabetes research and when we will have a cure, because he can see the daily struggles and the family team effort it takes to make sure I am as healthy as possible.
Some days, living with diabetes and working in the diabetes field can be difficult. But I can truly say that I believe everything happens for a reason, and my reason for having diabetes is to help others. I am fortunate that many of the friends I made at Camp Needlepoint, right after I was diagnosed, are still very close to me. They are an important support system for me today—and I am proud to give back.
To learn more about nationwide employment opportunities and life at the Association, please visit diabetes.org/careers.