Christel Marchand Aprigliano – Founder

Christel0780Diagnosed at twelve with Type 1 diabetes, Christel works with other prominent advocates to heighten public awareness and create meaningful positive changes in the diabetes community. She was the co-creator of diabeticfeed, the first podcast about diabetes and diabetes research.

She now devotes her efforts to many diabetes advocacy avenues, including: Strip Safely, a grassroots advocacy program for blood glucose meter accuracy; The Diabetes Collective, Inc., which produces The DiabetesUnConference; and Diabetes Advocates, a program of the Diabetes Hands Foundation. You can find her thoughts on life with diabetes as a lifestyle columnist at and on her personal blog, Christel lives in the Southeast with her husband and daughter.

Your medical team helps you with your physical health: your A1C goals, your medication, your prescriptions. That’s their job. But when you have a question about diabetes and the rest of your life, or you need support from people who understand? That’s what The Diabetes UnConference and the safe place it creates for open discussion is for.


Nicole Berelos, PhD, MPH, CPH, CDE – Facilitator

E10__1400790790_100.3.96.137Dr. Nicole Bereolos, PhD, MPH, CPH, CDE is a clinical psychologist and certified diabetes educator with specialized training in public health. Originally from Illinois, she earned her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of North Texas and a MPH (health behavior) from UNT-Health Science Center. She completed her internship in family medicine and geriatrics at UNT-Health Science Center and a post-doctoral fellowship at Brown Medical School in Rhode Island.

While at Brown, she served as project director of a NIH funded grant to develop a diabetes management program in American Samoa based on the AADE7. She has experience in training community health workers in diabetes, presenting at scientific conferences, serving as a reviewer for peer-reviewed journals, co-authoring scientific papers, and working with both adults living in nursing homes with type 2 diabetes and with adolescents living with type 1 diabetes.

Nicole sees herself as an integral part of an inter-disciplinary team dedicated to helping people live with diabetes successfully. Currently, she has a private practice in Dallas and volunteers as a speaker for the American Diabetes Association-North Texas Chapter and JDRF. She loves to travel and shop and recently completed culinary school. She has also had type 1 diabetes for 22 years and has been pumping since 2000.

There are components to living with diabetes that medical professionals simply just don’t understand; it is MORE than numbers. This is an opportunity to talk with others living through the same daily struggles to have a dialogue about what has and hasn’t worked, an open door policy where everything goes…

Bennet Dunlap, MPH – Facilitator

bennetBennet is a health communicator and project manager with experience in diabetes, social media, and advocacy programs. Combining analysis, communication and humor to bring groups together to help people with diabetes, he is the father of two teens with Type 1 diabetes and is Type 2 himself.

Following a 35 year career in commercial banking, he earned a Masters in Health Communication to professionally serve the diabetes community. This summer, Bennet created the grassroots advocacy campaign for diabetes meter accuracy. He writes the blog Your Diabetes May Vary and collaborated on the site DrinkingWithDiabetes to help young adults with diabetes and their parents talk about alcohol safety in college.


Building a strong patient community helps everyone. The Diabetes UnConference is one of the best ways to get to the heart of day-to-day living with diabetes while forging new important relationships that will keep us all healthy. Much like the Diabetes Online Community has grown to be incredibly important to so many, The Diabetes UnConference will do the same.

Heather Gabel – Facilitator

Screenshot 2014-03-24 15.46.45While Heather isn’t playing dodgeball or exploring introspective writing, she is engaging in the diabetes community, both online and off. In her final year at UC Berkeley she founded a diabetes empowerment organization called Beta Connect, which runs a mentorship program with Children’s Hospital Oakland.  She spent nearly two years working at the Diabetes Hands Foundation and will forever consider it a dream job. Eager to find ways to measure the impact of peer mentoring in youth with diabetes, Heather intends to enroll in a graduate program in Health and Behavioral Psychology within the next two years.  You can find her on Twitter @HeatherGabel and on Facebook in many diabetes groups. Heather’s diabetes blog, is mostly written in poetic prose and centers on how the world reminds her of her life with diabetes.

“A part of what makes the diabetes community a dynamic patient group is our ability to collectively identify gaps in the treatment we receive by healthcare professionals, big pharma and tech industries, and the general public. We stick together and powerfully articulate those gaps. What could make us a stronger, more unified force in the patient innovation movement would be a gathering, like the Diabetes UnConference, a space designed by us to allow for the freedom of idea exchange and strength sharing.  I really believe in the Diabetes UnConference model to inspire us to find motivations for successful coping and actualize the changes we want to see for our community.“

Scott K. Johnson – Facilitator

Scott K. JohnsonScott was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in April of 1980. He has been writing about his struggles and successes with diabetes since late 2004. Currently blogging at Scott’s Diabetes (, working as the Communications Lead, USA for mySugr, and contributing to many other diabetes related projects, Scott stays busy connecting with others living with diabetes.

Scott works full time as a freelance writer and diabetes consultant, and says, “I’m your average guy living with type 1 diabetes. I don’t have it all figured out, and sharing my struggles with diabetes helps by showing people that it is okay to still be trying to get it right, even after almost 35 years.” Scott lives with his family near the Minneapolis, MN area.

“Coming together as adults with diabetes to talk openly and safely about the unmet needs in our lives feels like a big ‘missing piece’ in the puzzle right now. Let’s do something big to change that.”


George Simmons – Facilitator

GeorgeGeorge Simmons is a husband and father who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1990. George began blogging as a way to meet other people with type 1 diabetes since he didn’t know any in his personal life.

His personal blog called “Ninjabetic“ serves as a place for George to express the frustrations, triumphs, and failures he faces while trying his best to manage his disease. His passion is reaching out to people with diabetes who feel isolated and alone. You can follow him on Twitter at @Ninjabetic.

“Peer support makes living with diabetes a group effort instead of a solo journey. Don’t go it alone any longer. Come to the UnConference and connect with a support group like no other!”


Kerri Sparling – Facilitator

Kerri Sparling photoKerri has been living with type 1 diabetes for over 27 years, diagnosed in 1986.  She manages her diabetes and lives her life by the mantra “Diabetes doesn’t define me, but it helps explain me.”

Kerri is a passionate advocate for all-things diabetes. She is the creator and author of Six Until Me, one of the first and most widely-read diabetes patient blogs, reaching a global audience of patients, caregivers, and industry.  Outside of her blog, Kerri’s work can be found at diaTribe, Animas, and in diabetes outreach like JDRF’s Countdown magazine, in addition to her extensive diabetes YouTube channel.  Well-versed in social media and its influence on patients, Kerri presents regularly at conferences and works full-time as a writer and consultant.  Her first book, Balancing Diabetes (Spry Publishing), was released in the Spring of 2014.

Kerri and her husband, Chris, live in Rhode Island with their daughter.  She can be reached by email at, or on Twitter at @sixuntilme.

“Medical advice from my doctor only goes so far in my attempt to manage diabetes; I lean on and learn from my peers living with diabetes to make the most of my diabetes life.  The diabetes community is now a crucial part of my healthcare team, helping me manage diabetes in context, and the opportunity to connect in person could be the next wave in making a tangible difference for our global, and growing, community.”