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Happy Women’s Day! Every year we like to talk about women who inspire us. Last year we talked about Fifi Hazzouri, the founder of the not-for-profit organisation “Diabetes Alive”.
This year we’d like to talk about Brandy Barnes. Brandy Barnes founded the not-for-profit organisation “DiabetesSisters” in January 2008 and served as the CEO until 2015. Barnes was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1990 at the age of 15 and soon after immersed herself in learning as much as she could about the disease, with increased knowledge came the desire to to help others who were also suffering. Over the last 25 years Barnes sharpened her expertise in the areas of business development, analysis, strategic planning, relationship management, diversity and inclusion in both nonprofit and for-profit industries.
Barnes majored in Psychology at the University of North Carolina to better understand the mind-body connection in chronic disease management. She furthered her studies with a masters degree in social work also at the University of North Carolina. During this time she also worked full-time in diabetes research and later worked as a Senior Sales Professional at Sanofi. During her pregnancy with her daughter Barnes began to feel overwhelmed and isolated as she could not find specific resources for pregnant women with diabetes. Thus, Barnes inaugurated her vision for DiabetesSisters, a platform where women with diabetes could get support and answers from other women and professionals. The website launched in January 2008 with the Federal Government recognizing it as a 501(c)3 non profit organisation in 2009.
As CEO of the organisation she managed all operations and oversaw the work of three employees and over 200 volunteers while simultaneously raising over US$1.5 million to support the organization. Under Barnes’ leadership DiabtetesSisters grew and reached over 300 thousand people living with diabetes annually. The contributions Barnes made to the industry of diabetes were acknowledged in Diabetes Forecast magazine’s annual article “12 people to know in diabetes” in December 2012 and October 2014. She has also been featured in All You, Diabetic Living and Diabetes Health magazines.
Ever since, DiabetesSisters has grown exponentially with over 12,000 members offering both online and in-person programs. These include online forums, blogs and expert articles, a monthly eNewsletter, webinars, National Conferences, Leadership Institute, and monthly peer support meetups across the United States. DiabetesSisters offers support services to help women of all ages and with all types of diabetes to live fuller and healthier lives. Coming from women who understand the fear and isolation that comes from living with diabetes as the organisation is managed by women who are also living with diabetes. It recognises the need for emotional and peer support for womens’ overall wellbeing. Through the opportunities for peer support and education, the aim is for women to form a special bond and feel comfortable to freely share their information, helpful tips and personal stories. At Glucology Store, we know how important support services are for people living with diabetes. Click here to access their support services.
The American Diabetes Association published Barnes’ first book “A Woman’s Guide to Diabetes: A Path to Wellness.” The book offers candid discussions about the issues that women living with diabetes face among friends, family and with themselves. The book offers an open and honest resource to help women understand their unique experiences and opportunities that living with diabetes can provide. Along with this book Barnes has authored numerous articles and books including JDFR’s “Pregnancy Toolkit” and “Bridging the Gap: The value Bringing Together Women with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.”
Brandy now serves as Senior Program Manager of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Insulet Corporation, quickly rising in the national ranks earning a place in The Winner’s Circle for four consecutive years. Living with diabetes inspired Brandy to help others also living with diabetes. Knowing that diabetes comes with many challenges that she has personally experienced, she hopes one day that women will be able to speak freely and openly about their disease with no shame or blame with strong female role models of all ages being plentiful in the media. This amazing woman encapsulates the values of International Women’s Day as she tenaciously drives action and awareness for people living with diabetes. Women such as Brandy inspire us to do more for the community and help people struggling with diseases such as diabetes.
At IBD Medical, we believe that support groups are beneficial, especially for people living with diabetes. Our support group on Facebook aims to help you support and connect with others to share experiences, tips and information. You're welcome to join our discussions on daily challenges, shared recipes and providing support for each other! Click here to join.
Please remember, it is important to consult with a doctor or diabetes healthcare professional for personalised advice and guidance on how to manage diabetes.
Remember to always seek advice from your medical practitioner before changing anything about your diabetes management. The above information is not medical advice.