Building My Diabetes Dream Team

Who would I ask to be part of my can-do team?

Michelle Alswager BioBy Michelle Alswager

December 2011 — I've been around the diabetes block a few times. I've met a lot of people. And as I watched my friend, Phil Southerland get named the head of the World Health Organization (in addition to being CEO and Founder of Team Type 1), I started thinking — if I could build what I consider a can-do, no-bull, tell-it-like-it-is dream team in the "d" world, who would I put on the dream team? Well, I'm going to tell you.

Leadership — Important I guess, eh? Well, if the World Health Organization trusts a youngblood like Phil Southerland at the ripe old age of 29, why can't I? Sure, he'd by my CEO, with Tom Karlya of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation as his right hand man, kissing babies, shaking hands, and showing the cause that you CAN be a nice guy and still get things done. Charles Renfroe of Lifescan/Johnson & Johnson would be at our national office (even though the national office would not exist — we don't need the expense of offices in the fine world of Skype and other social media) determining what new ideas we should be getting behind and spending our hard-earned donor dollars on.

Research — Well, research would be important, right? I'd want people who don't have their own political agenda, no personal investment in the artificial pancreas project, etc. I would name Camillo Ricordi from the Diabetes Research Institute as the head of my research team. After being named the person who made the biggest difference in diabetes in 2010 (yes, he even beat ME!), we trust him making wise choices. We will also hire JDRF Lay Review Committee member Jeff Steuer because we know he'll keep it real, and above all else, he knows that death IS the ultimate complication and needs to be removed from the list of complications.

Fundraising — You know darn well I would have a ride program. I would steal away JDRF's Aly Levine as my program director and Tim St. Clair as my ride coach. Of course, only if they believe strongly in ice cold beer at my finish line. And the team would be made up of committees that think out of the box. While a walk, a gala, and a ride are all good ideas, we on the dream team think there are LOTS of good ideas — no reason to get stuck on a handful.

Government Relations — First of all, you would all be on my government relations dream team. But it would be headed up by my "I don't take prisoners" advocate friend, Moira McCarthy Stanford. She would be hired for her wit, charm, and ability to throw anyone in a metaphoric headlock when needed. You want the truth handed to you? She'll hand it to you.

Outreach — Sean and (the very recent Mrs.) Mollie Busby of Riding on Insulin would branch out and realize that snowboard camps and expeditions rock, but they can be instrumental in all facets of outreach. The rest of the outreach team would be every single one of my Facebook diabetes-world friends. There sure are enough of you out there! I would also hire Paula Ford-Martin from dLife to keep us in the faces of the rest of the world through videos and important stories. (I'm not going to lie, I would hope that she would hire ME to do the interviews — come on, it's on my bucket list!

Youth Advocacy — This is a no brainer. Since we are dreaming together, I would nominate Jesse Alswager due to being a fearless leader amongst his peers. A government liaison and community leader, he would make us all proud.

Dreams are important. And in my dream we put politics aside. You'll never hear, "We try not to hire people with a direct connection to diabetes — they get too passionate and aren't as business savvy when they lead with their heart," mumbled at our organization. That's my point.


dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.


Last Modified Date: July 03, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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