The DiabetesSisters Minority Initiative – by Anna Norton

DiabetesSisters is an amazing non-profit to improve the health and quality of life of women living with diabetes. A large part of what they do is to provide emotional and peer support to members through their events, forums and meet ups. In this Global Postcard, Anna Norton, CEO of DiabetesSisters shares the importance of the Minority Initiative program and their recent event in January.

Since 2008, DiabetesSisters has offered support and education to women living with, or at risk of developing, diabetes. Through virtual and in-person programming, we have reached thousands of women and have empowered them to lead richer, healthier lives.

Women in minority groups bear an increased burden from diabetes, and are at increased risk of its negative effects. In the United States, diabetes is 33% more common among African Americans than Caucasians, affects 1 in 4 women age 55 years and older, and is the fourth leading cause of death across all ages. Similarly, one in three Hispanics in the United States lives with prediabetes. Without intervention, a person with prediabetes is likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within 10 years. Latinas living with diabetes are more likely to experience depression, eye disease, kidney disease, and nerve disease than those who do not have diabetes.

DiabetesSisters responded to the need for support in these communities through our Minority Initiative program. It began in a health ministry in Silver Spring in April 2016, enhancing our mission by providing sought-after education and ways to better understand diabetes. The program has grown to include four additional cities in 2019: Miami, FL, New Brunswick, NJ, Chicago, IL, and New York, NY. Our programming focuses on nutrition, adherence to medication regimens and physical activity, and encompasses African American, Hispanic, and South Asian women.

Recently, our program grew to the Chicago suburbs, partnering with a local studio to bring women together for an evening of fun physical activity. Thanks to our sponsors, participants listened to guest speakers Samantha Doty, RD, LDN, CDE, CCP and Amanda Przybyla, RDN, LDN, CCP, from Livongo, who gave valuable presentations to the group about the value of physical activity and its relationship to blood sugar management. Following their session, attendees were invited to enjoy a Hip-Hop Fit class in the studio from its operator and local business owner, Gene Hicks.
On a cold Friday evening in the suburbs of Chicago, the studio was packed with 50 women who learned new ways to enjoy themselves while focusing on their physical and mental health. DiabetesSisters wishes to express gratitude to all of the community members who participated, as well as funders of the 2019 program: AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Livongo, Novo Nordisk, and the Boehringer Ingelheim-Lilly Alliance.

With the hope of providing support to women in minority communities, we look forward to holding more events like this with the support of our sponsors in the future. 

For more information on our minority initiative, or to learn more about DiabetesSisters, visit us as

Anna Norton, MS, has been living with type 1 diabetes since August 1993. As CEO of DiabetesSisters, she is dedicated to improving the lives of women living with diabetes through peer support and education, digitally and in-person. With nearly half a million annual visitors to, Anna develops and organizes an array of programs and services focused on improving the lives of women with diabetes. In-person, she oversees a national peer support program for women living with diabetes, a Leadership Institute to train patient advocates, a Conference series, and a Minority Initiative Program designed to educate underserved populations on diabetes and culture. She has been invited to serve on various patient-focused panels and speak on behalf of women living with diabetes at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions, the American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Meetings, and the International Diabetes Federation Congress in Abu Dhabi. She has been featured in an assortment of health-related magazines and books, including Balancing Pregnancy with Pre-Existing Diabetes, A Woman’s Guide to Diabetes: A Path to Wellness, and Diabetic Living Magazine. Anna graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida and Master of Science in Education at Florida International University. Prior to joining DiabetesSisters in 2012, she worked for large university systems and metropolitan health care systems, with in various areas of major gift fundraising, annual gifts, event planning and community relations. She currently resides in the Chicago area with her family.  

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