Robert Brooks, Chicago, USA

My name is Robert Brooks and I live in Chicago, Illinois. I’ve been living with type 1 diabetes my entire cognitive life (about 25 years).

My passion is in healthcare technology, especially in digital interventions for diabetes. I’m one of the first employees of Livongo, which is the leading consumer digital health company focused on chronic conditions in America, where I’ve held a variety of roles as the organization has grown and evolved over the years. Prior to Livongo, I worked at AT&T and as an Emergency Medical Technician.

I’m inspired to make positive change to improve the lives of people around the world, and that’s why I believe in Beta Change. What excites me most about this organisation is the intersection of healthcare and technology: we are constantly developing new approaches, therapies, and healthcare delivery models to improve quality of life and increase access to care and education.

I’ve led teams and continue support a wide range of initiatives for organisations like AADE, ADA, JDRF, and the Joslin Diabetes Center. I was also an IDF Young Leader in Diabetes. With a degree in Communications and Business Law from Boston College, I currently teach entrepreneurship to high school students on Chicago’s South Side.

Connect with Robert on LinkedIn.

Fiona Scott, Melbourne, Australia

I’m a proud Mum, happily married, a Geelong Cats footy fan, love Mickey Mouse, a nurse, Credentialed Diabetes Educator (CDE), and I have diabetes.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1988. Though I lived in Australia, there were very limited resources and support networks for those living with diabetes In the 1980’s. Therefore, this was one of the driving forces for me to become a CDE. 

As a CDE my greatest challenge is helping people with diabetes believe in themselves, no matter what their age is, and not see diabetes as a barrier towards achieving their dreams. Unfortunately in some parts of the world, even in Australia, a lack of access prevents some of them achieving their dreams big or small.

After 29 years of living with diabetes, I now see my diabetes as a gift; not one you would give to someone or want to receive, but one that has given me so many opportunities. Living with diabetes has also taught me that alone I can make a difference, but if we work together nothing is unachievable in the world of diabetes.

I’m proud and excited to join Beta Change who share my passion to make a global impact in the world of diabetes.

Follow Fiona on Twitter.

Pei Yan Heng, Singapore

My diabetes journey started (not-so-subtly) in 1996, when I caught a group of ants hanging out in my toilet. At the time, I knew nothing about diabetes or its symptoms. After a C-peptide test confirmed a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, I hated daily injections and was lazy about testing my blood glucose, and I hated revealing my condition to people around me. Today, I am open about my condition and I no longer hide my diabetes from the world.

The opportunity to meet new friends in the global diabetes community brought me out of my comfort zone and into diabetes advocacy. I participated in diabetes youth camps, initially as a participant and eventually as a camp leader and volunteer. I also represented the Association of Diabetes Educators (Singapore) at the IDF Young Leaders in Diabetes Programme. I currently run the Singapore Diabetes Online Community (SGDoc) Facebook group, an online platform for people with diabetes in Singapore to connect with each other.

I chose to be part of the Beta Change team because changing the diabetes community cannot be done alone. Partners and stakeholders must collaborate and cooperate to address the needs and concerns of the diabetes community. Anyone can be an advocate for change, and Beta Change is here to facilitate synergy among diabetes organisations seeking that change.

Beyond my endeavors involving my malfunctioning pancreas, I am a full-time mathematics and physics teacher. I am also involved in marine conservation projects and surveys in Singapore, such as photographing and blogging about marine life in our intertidal and subtidal areas (which involves a lot of scuba diving!). I play the violin and belong to a string orchestra group. I love taking selfies with Conus, my insulin pump, in various our various adventures.

Follow Pei Yan’s pump on Facebook, check out her blog, and follow her on Twitter.

Stephanie Cesile, Perth, Australia

When diabetes came into my life at age 10, I was lucky to be living in Australia with immediate access to the latest management techniques and technology. Yet, my family and I were lost in the language and uncertainty of type 1 diabetes. With little knowledge and opportunity to meet with diabetes educators during diagnosis, we felt isolated, helpless and disconnected.

Years later, my parents encouraged me to get involved with the diabetes community. What a decision that was! Diabetes camps changed my perspective from being a “diabetic” to a person living life with diabetes, which motivated me to volunteer more frequently. Discovering the social side of diabetes has afforded me endless opportunities, including being a diabetes camp leader in three Australian states, enduring a cycling challenge through Cambodia and Vietnam, and being involved with Diabetes Tasmania, Diabetes Australia and the International Diabetes Federation. My journey in diabetes advocacy continues now with Beta Change.

Beta Change has affirmed my belief as to why diabetes advocacy is so important: risk-taking is never easy, yet creating Beta Change has been nothing but beneficial. We aim to raise awareness of the issues and needs of people living with diabetes rather than the politics that often surrounds making change happen. I’m proud to be part of this team of youthful and powerful change-makers living with diabetes from across the globe.

When I’m wearing my professional hat, I’m a geologist. It rocks! I work in exploration throughout the Pilbara region in the northwest corner of Australia – yes, it’s quite dusty and red! I also love playing soccer (the beautiful game) and going on camping trips to places with nice views.

Follow Stephanie on Twitter.

Katie Doyle, New York, USA

Like many of you living with diabetes, I wear many hats: producer of Minisodes, curator of online content, and director of all things creative at Beta Change.

As a freelance media artist and owner of Cambia Creative, LLC, a media consulting and production company in New York, I produce written and visual content and am currently working on a short documentary. I’ve worked across industries like travel, adventure tourism, the arts, and with various non-profits. My work in diabetes started with volunteering at JDRF One Walks and Children with Diabetes Friends for Life. These networks grew into broader connections that led me to become a guest writer for the AADE blog and eventually an IDF Young Leader in Diabetes.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 11. I was initially hesitant to get involved in the diabetes community, due to a few common misconceptions of what hanging out with a group of people with diabetes would be like: I didn’t want to be surrounded by people who were simply delighted to live with diabetes every single day, people who gleefully checked their blood sugars left and right, and people who were also much better at managing their diabetes than I perceived myself to be at managing mine.

As it turned out, that was not the case. It says something about the strength and potential of the diabetes community that geologists, dietitians, teachers, artists, and entrepreneurs share their experiences with each other and everyone else to create change for the better. I now count these brilliant, outgoing, caring, and ambitious individuals among my close friends—four of whom I’m lucky enough to work with here at Beta Change!

Check out Katie and Cambia Creative and connect with her on LinkedIn.

Ashley Ng, Melbourne, Australia

Was it Type 1, type 2, or somewhere in between? When I was 19 years old, I had a sinus infection for what felt like forever. At first, I was told that I had type 2 diabetes, thus beginning my whirlwind adventure into the world of diabetes. My diabetes type has since been reclassified as type 1b, which means that my pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, but it’s not an autoimmune condition like typical type 1 diabetes.

My diabetes advocacy adventure started with my blog, Bittersweet Diagnosis, where I write about my reflections and thoughts about trying to balance life with diabetes. I have also volunteered and helped coordinate diabetes camps for children with type 1 diabetes. In 2013, I was nominated to represent Diabetes Australia at the International Diabetes Federation’s Young Leader in Diabetes Programme.

To create change within the diabetes community, I strongly believe that we need to work in collaboration with various stakeholders such as healthcare professionals, policy makers, industry. Beta Change, to me, represents growth and the future.

Outside of Beta Change, I’m a dietitian and am completing my PhD in diabetes education and mHealth technology. In my experience with the Australian healthcare system, there aren’t enough resources for young people with chronic conditions and I’ve made it my mission to change that. Specifically, I’m looking at the role social media can play in diabetes education for young adults with diabetes during life transitions.

Check out Ashley’s blogInstagram, and Facebook page, and follow her on Twitter.