It’s International Women’s Day and while I like to celebrate the incredible women in my life every day, I’m not above using the occasion to showcase some of the womenfolk in diabetes who have such an impact on our community.

So here are just some women working in, with, or around diabetes. This obviously isn’t an exhaustive list. There are so many women I could have mentioned. Please use the comments section below to add anyone I may not have mentioned. These women here have come across my radar on one or many occasions in the last twelve months, which is why  wanted to celebrate them here today. They all have one thing in common: they get stuff done. And they support other women.

Actually they have another thing in common. They’re a little bolshie and sassy. And I love that about all of them!

Kerri Sparling

I met Kerri in a creperie in New York back in 2011. Two weeks prior, we’d just missed each other at a diabetes conference in Dubai, but made up for our lousy timing when we realised that we would be in NY at the same time. As we greeted each other, I had a slightly weird moment of feeling as though a character in a book I had read over and over had come to life because in person she was the same disarming, open and hilarious person she is on the page (or rather, screen).

The impact Kerri’s work has had on women with diabetes is monumental. I can’t count the number of times that I have heard her name when women with diabetes have spoken about their engagement with the DOC. She is one of the first people I direct women to when they are looking for information about anything to do with diabetes.

Last month, Kerri announced that in May she will be updating her SixUntilMe blog for the last time. She is not disappearing from the diabetes world – let’s be clear about that. She’ll still be writing; she’ll still be here. I’m glad that she’ll still be around to share her powerful voice. And cat GIFs. Her cat GIF game is strong.

Read Kerri’s blog here.

Karen Addington

JDRF-UK is blessed with Karen as their CEO. I’ve been fortunate to spend some time with Karen in the last twelve or so months and have loved getting to know her. I’m always impressed with her ability to graciously ensure diabetes is on the agenda, and keep conversations current and relevant. I also love that she knows the value of diabetes peer support and community and the voice of the person living with diabetes. More diabetes organisations could do with leaders like Karen!

Follow Karen on Twitter here.

Cherise Shockley

This whole post could have been about Cherise. She is a shining and guiding light and an example to so many of us. But today, I want to highlight her new podcast ‘Inspiration Exchange: Diabetes Moments’ that will highlight different people affected by diabetes. The idea is that it will feature people in the community and share their experiences.

Cherise is one of the hardest working people know. She shows up – again and again and again – backing that up with continuing to deliver support to anyone who needs it.

More about Cherise’s new podcast here.

Elizabeth Snouffer

Whilst I had heard of Elizabeth, I only really came to know her last year when she joined the organising committee for the LWD stream that I am leading. Elizabeth is the editor of the IDF publication Diabetes Voice, and a journalist and writer.  She is also a vocal advocate for insulin access for people around the world.

I’ve really enjoyed reading Elizabeth’s writing recently, especially what she has written on diabetes distress and health professional engagement.

Follow Elizabeth on Twitter here.

Miss Diabetes

If you’re not following Miss Diabetes on Insta get on it now! It’s the brainchild of New Zealander, Janina, who has lived with type 1 diabetes for over 20 years. Her cartoons are clever, cute and cutting. I’ve found many familiar moments in her creations.

Find Miss Diabetes here.

Jennifer Dyer

I always say that there needs to be more than diabetes as a connection. That certainly is the case with Dr Jennifer Dyer. Jen is a paediatric and adolescent endo and an entrepreneur. She is smart, vocal and open about all sorts of diabetes issues that are often considered taboo. At ATTD last year we had a frank discussion about diabetes and sexual health and I loved her matter-of-fact attitude.

I already would have thought she was pretty great, but it seems we share a love for New York, MAC lipsticks, Audrey Hepburn, oysters and Sophia Loren. I know that if I was diagnosed as a teenager, Jen would have been exactly the endo I would have wanted to see because she knows life is about so much more than diabetes.

Follow Jen on Twitter here.

Weronika Kowlaska

Weronika writes the Blue Sugar Cube blog, started the Connect1ons Campaign which showcases the advocacy efforts of people with diabetes from around the world, is a gifted designer and illustrator and spends a lot of her online attention as part of the #Insulin4All movement.

I recently caught up with Weronika in Brussels where I became almost dizzy hearing about all her different activities, which also include being involved in the International Diabetes Federation.

Check out Weronika on Insta here.

Sana Ajmal

Sana continues to elevate the cause of women with diabetes in her home country, Pakistan and share often heartbreaking stories of discrimination and stigma. She is a writer and speaker, and has joined me on the organising committee for the Living with Diabetes stream at this year’s Diabetes Congress.

Read more about Sana in an interview here.

Alecia Wesner

Guinea pig extraordinaire, Alecia puts her hand (and any other part of her body) up to participate in diabetes research at every opportunity. And then she gets on stage and talks about it to encourage people to donate. She is one of JDRF’s most visible speakers and is an absolute star.

Oh – and she also happens to be a talented artist who designs the most magical lighting, and you should check out her handmade Eye Candy range of jewellery .

Alecia’s Eye Candy can be found here.

Ashley Ng

I’m lucky to frequently catch up over coffee with Ashley to hear what she is up to, and she is always up to a lot! Ash has been a vocal advocate to reduce the stigma associated with diabetes. She set up a Facebook group for young adults with type 2 diabetes, and has made it a safe, friendly place for open discussion. And she is a co-founder of Beta-Change which brings together people with diabetes from around the globe. All this is on top of her real job where she is Dr Ash and a lectured in nutrition. She is busy. Very busy.

Find out about Beta Change here.

Melissa Lee

Diabetes technology can be bloody confusing, but Melissa Lee knows how to explain it so it makes sense to idiots like me. Melissa is the Director of Community Relations for Bigfoot Biomedical, charged with sharing the organisation’s vision and progress. She does it well.

Melissa is an active member of the diabetes online community and I always love the way her comments are clear and direct. Oh, and her D Parodies never fail to amaze.

This D Parody of ‘Seasons of Love’ is magical.

Kim Henshaw

I think of all the women on this list, Kim is the one I’ve known the longest. We were new mums together, and co-founded the #OzDOC weekly tweetchats. And we worked together for a number of years at Diabetes Victoria.

Here’s the thing about working for a diabetes organisation. It’s a tough gig sometimes to have diabetes in your professional as well as personal life. There are days where it can seem that everything is about diabetes. Here’s another thing about working for a diabetes organisation. You can’t make it about yourself, and Kim has always excelled at ensuring that she never has an agenda that is self-serving. These days, her work around families of kids with diabetes is making a difference to so many.

Follow Kim’s occasional tweets here.

Moira McCarthy

I’ve only met Moira once and that is, quite frankly, not good enough. Thankfully, through the magic of Facebook, I get to engage with her and see what she is up to. She is a journalist (writing about incredible travels) and also writes about diabetes.

Moira is also a remarkable fundraiser, having raised millions for JDRF. She does ridiculously demanding bike rides for the organisation, attracting donations from all over the world. (It’s hard to say no to Moira).

Read my favourite ever piece by Moira here.

Dana Lewis

There would be few people who are interested in diabetes technology who would not know Dana. I have had people actually say to me ‘Oh, you’ve met’ her? What’s she really like?’ such is her rockstar status. The answer to that question, by the way, is kind, generous, smart, emphatic and funny. She is who I thank daily for the whole idea of DIY hybrid-closed loop systems. She is also a kids’ book writer, researcher and (when not dealing with broken limbs) runs miles and miles. I’m yet to be convinced there is only one of her because she does so much, but I’ve only ever been in the room with one Dana Lewis at a time.

Read about Dana here.

Daniela D’Onofrio

I have a group of Italian women I see at diabetes conferences in Europe. I adore them and love being welcomed into their crew. I once said to Aaron ‘I hung out with the Italian women again, and jeez – they are loud and bossy. And they don’t shut up.’ He just looked at me before muttering something under his breath that sounded a lot like ‘Welcome to my world,’ but I’m sure I misheard, because where would he know bossy, loud, talkative Italian women?

Anyway, Daniela may be loud and bossy and talk a lot, but she backs it up like you wouldn’t believe. She started Portale Diabete, an online network, after her brother received a kidney pancreas transplant. There are over 25,000 members of the Portale Diabetes Facebook group and the discussions are constant and current. Daniela added a new string to her bow last year when she decided that she’d try her hand at fundraising and naturally that has been a success.

Follow Portale Diabete on Facebook here (fluency in Italian – or Google translate – required).

Jane Speight

When Jane landed in Australia to be the Foundation Director of the ACBRD, there were very few HCPs talking about the behavioural side of diabetes. People with diabetes were talking about it, but that was really where the conversation started and ended.

Jane and her ACBRD team got straight to changing that, and today, she is a permanent fixture in the diabetes landscape both here and around the world. She has spearheaded the diabetes and #LanguageMatters movement in Australia and globally and is a fierce advocate for people with diabetes. How lucky we are!

As well as collaborating with her on a number of projects (where she is always so gracious in the way I bring down the overall tone of any discussion), I also get to call her a friend. She is my constant conference and doughnut-eating companion, and makes the overwhelming and frantic nature of conferences somewhat bearable.

Follow Jane on Twitter here.

Georgie Peters

Georgie put all right in the world by returning from her year in Paris to take up a job teaching French in the next suburb to where I live. Thank goodness, because our late night chats could go on forever! It’s much easier being in the same time zone (and side of the city)!

I know I’ve written about her a number of times, but Georgie’s work in diabetes, eating disorders and body image with Body-Posi-Betes continues to push boundaries. I’m not sorry for sharing again.

Follow Body-Posi-Betes on Insta here.

Stacey Sims

Stacey runs the award winning podcast Diabetes Connections which features prominent diabetes advocates from around the world. Stacey’s son has diabetes and she created the podcast to help reduce the isolation that many people with diabetes face.

Check out (and listen to) Diabetes Connections here.

As I said earlier, this is not an complete list. There are so many other women who also do amazing things in the diabetes space. This list just happens to be some of the women whose work I’ve seen and loved over the last twelve months. And the other thing is that I have seen firsthand how they have supported and lifted up other women. That doesn’t mean that we always need to agree or that we all need to be singing from the same hymn sheet. But it means that we look out for each other, we promote each other, we cheer each other on. These women all do that in spades, and that is one of the most important things to me.