Back to Friends for Life Orlando 2018 FFL Orlando 2018 Grandparents Faculty


Judith Jones Ambrosini has lived under the influence of type 1 diabetes since 1962. She claims that diabetes has guided her down many winding roads and pathways that have led to becoming a professional chef and caterer, a distance walker (her first marathon was in Denmark 2005 and a 32-mile walk around the rim of Manhattan Island every spring are some highlights), and a dedicated proponent and practitioner of daily exercise including dance and tai chi. Judith is also an author and diabetes journalist. Her book, The Sisterhood of Diabetes: Facing Challenges & Living Dreams, can be found on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She is a founder of “Wise Women Self-Care Diabetes Retreats” ( and writes a monthly column on called MoTo Move.


Julie Gettings, PhD, is the clinical psychologist within the Division of Endocrinology & Diabetes at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Gettings works with youth and their families on improving adherence to diabetes management tasks, coping with chronic illness, improving family functioning surrounding illness management, and treating symptoms of mental health disorders. Prior to the current position, Dr. Gettings was the diabetes psychologist at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and served in a similar role. Dr. Gettings is involved in clinical research with a particular focus on mental health screening for youth with chronic illness.


Jane Hunsche, RN, is the mother of Kara and Philip and wife of Dave. Kara was diagnosed in 2001 at the age of 6. Jane has been advocating for Kara and others with diabetes ever since. Jane is a Registered Nurse; she worked in Neonatal Intensive Care for 21 years has now moved on to Adult Home Care. Jane teaches adults with type 2 how to care for their diabetes. She says she is "thrilled to be able to give back to CWD families for all that has been given to us."


Midge McBryant is grandma (Mimi) to Jeremy Meredith (dx'd 5/2000) and to Chelsea and Bailey. She is enjoying retirement after working many years as a real estate paralegal. Midge loves baseball and the Tampa Bay Rays! She has been attending Friends for Life Orlando conferences since 2003 and has been on staff in childcare for the past few years. She enjoys working with the "Little Ones" and is very happy to be a part of the Friends For Life Family!


Maureen Monaghan, PhD, CDE, is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Health at Children’s National Health System and George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC. A licensed clinical psychologist and a certified diabetes educator, Dr. Monaghan has worked for over a decade providing behavioral health care as part of the Child and Adolescent Diabetes Program at Children’s National. Her clinical and research work focuses on helping youth with diabetes and their parents adjust and adapt to new settings and manage their daily medical regimen, while also promoting optimal quality of life. Dr. Monaghan is particularly in working with adolescents and young adults and their diabetes care providers to facilitate a smooth transition from pediatric to adult diabetes care.


Jessica Pierce, PhD, is a licensed psychologist at Nemours Children’s Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando, Florida. Dr. Pierce provides clinical care for, and conducts research with, children, adolescents, and young adults with T1D and their families. Her research focuses on developing a new intervention for parents of young children with T1D using social media and crowdsourcing methods, improving the transition from pediatric to adult care for young adults with T1D, and developing novel methods of health care delivery for adolescents with T1D. Diagnosed with T1D when she was five years old, Dr. Pierce’s combination of education, career, and personal experiences provide her with a unique perspective to engage youth with T1D, and their family members, to promote their health and overall quality of life.


Henry Rodriguez, MD, is a highly regarded pediatric diabetologist and collaborative type 1 diabetes clinical researcher who led the Indiana University (IU) DPT-1 Regional Recruitment Center and served as the highly successful IU TrialNet Clinical Center's Clinical Director for 10 years. He joined the University of South Florida College of Medicine in 2010 as a Professor of Pediatrics and Clinical Director of the USF Diabetes Center. He has led expansion of clinical, educational, and clinical research activities at USF including the launch of the USF T1D Exchange Clinical Center, establishment of the USF TrialNet Clinical Center, and partnering with industry in investigating novel therapies in type 1 and pediatric type 2 diabetes. Dr. Rodriguez is the Protocol Chair for the NIH-funded TrialNet Pathway to Prevention Study and serves on numerous TrialNet committees. He is co-chair of the ADA Safe at School Working Group, co-chair of the Diabetes Advocacy Alliance and has been a longstanding volunteer with JDRF and a staunch supporter of diabetes camps. He has also been the member of working groups addressing insulin pump therapy in children and the transition of young adults from pediatric to adult diabetes care providers. His clinical and research foci are the improvement of lives impacted by diabetes while pursing prevention and a cure.


Janet Rodriguez, BSN, RN, CDE, is the insulin pump and CGM specialist and a certified diabetes educator at the USF Diabetes Center in Tampa, FL. She cares for adult and pediatric patients. She is a certified trainer for ACCU-CHEK, Asante, Animas, OmniPod, Medtronic, and Tandem insulin pumps as well as Dexcom and Medtronic CGMs. She participates in diabetes research. Her interests are in data management software, data interpretation, and insulin adjustment. She has volunteered at diabetes camps for 20 years. She was previously a Pediatric ICU nurse.


Laura Smith, PhD, CDE, is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, a licensed psychologist, and certified diabetes educator at the University of South Florida Diabetes Center. Dr. Smith provides clinical care and conducts research in the area of pediatric and adult type 1 diabetes. Her research focuses on how healthcare providers and individuals with diabetes can collaborate and share in health decision-making, how family interactions impact diabetes management, and the psychological impact of being genetically at-risk for type 1 diabetes. Dr. Smith has published research articles in these areas and speaks on these topics to various groups of healthcare providers, researchers, and patients. She also provides clinical services to individuals living with type 1 diabetes and their families. Dr. Smith's work is guided by her own experience; she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 17 years ago and believes that having diabetes can be challenging but is manageable with education, a positive outlook, and a good support network.


Heather Speer, MPH, CCRC, CDE, is a CWD mom who has worked with thousands of families who have children with type 1 diabetes over the last 20+ years. Heather instituted an emergency kit program for all newly diagnosed children at Children's Hospital Orange County when her daughter Stephanie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age three in 1990. She went on to complete her MPH in Community Education, is a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator and Diabetes Educator and has devoted her career to Diabetes Research and Education. She became lead Research Coordinator at Children's Hospital Orange County (CHOC) in 1996 and has been involved with numerous Diabetes clinical research projects including Diabetes TrialNet, testing new diabetes technologies, glucose meters, CGM, sensor augmented insulin pumps and insulin therapy. She has developed education and support programs for kids with diabetes and their families. Heather joined the CWD Ask the Diabetes Team in 1996. She lives with her husband Steve in Newport Beach, California and continues to work with children and families at CHOC. At Friends for Life, Heather is part of the Grandparents' Faculty.

  Denotes faculty or staff with diabetes

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