Advocates in Action Council Members

Our Advocates in Action Council members actively support the advancement of JDRF’s
advocacy priority areas, spread awareness of type 1 diabetes (T1D) within their communities,
and inspire youth to use their voices and share their stories with key decision makers.
Meet a few of our Advocates in Action Council members and learn what drives them in their
advocacy work.

Featured Member: Grace Sheppard

JDRF has been a part of Grace Sheppard’s life since she was handed a Rufus bear after her type 1 diabetes (T1D) diagnosis at age 11. Since then, she has been a Youth Ambassador and active volunteer at galas, walks, and diabetes camps. Getting involved is important to her. “JDRF has always allowed me to be a part of a community of others who are just like me, she said. “When you’re faced with a challenge such as T1D, the community is truly priceless.” 

Grace currently attends UNC Chapel Hill, majoring in psychology with a minor in neuroscience. She also works in the neuroscience unit at UNC Hospital. She hopes to work in pediatric healthcare, advocating for children who can’t always speak for themselves.

In addition to her passion for healthcare, Grace is also passionate about using her voice to raise awareness about a disease that is oftentimes invisible. “It is so important to keep advancing our technology and government support,” she said. “These advancements are the only way to one day turn type 1 into type none!”

Featured Member: Evan Strat

Evan Strat has been working on a unique art project: constructing a rough lookalike of the Arc de Triomphe out of old Dexcom G6 inserter safety clips. “When I started on the G6, I started saving the safety clips, although initially I didn’t have any plans to do anything with them,” he said. “Last year, I had an idea that the Arc de Triomphe had a simple enough structure that I could make a miniature version of it.”

Evan’s creativity extends into his plans for the future—he hopes to work in diabetes tech to reduce the complexity of living with T1D. “I think that hybrid closed loop algorithms were a big leap, but there are still so many gaps to fill,” he said. “The area I’m most interested in currently is around exercising with T1D.”

Evan’s interest in T1D and exercise is a personal one. He’s an avid skier and enjoys running and playing volleyball. Recently, Evan ran one of the legs of the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay and his team raised money for JDRF. He has also been a JDRF One Walk team captain or involved with a team since 2011. “There’s something about walking into a big event and knowing that everyone there is supporting you, that they really get it and are with you, that is really inspiring and moving to me.”

Featured Member: Elizabeth Roosevelt

As a JDRF Youth Ambassador in Dallas, Texas, Elizabeth Roosevelt spoke at Diabetes 101 classes and distributed Bags of Hope. She was moved by the impact this outreach had on newly diagnosed families. “It motivated me to expand the initiative during my summer travels,” she said.

Her local JDRF chapter connected her with the Robert Debré Hospital in Paris. There, she gave out bags filled with educational materials on T1D and, of course, Rufus the Bear. “Discussing the differences between the French and United States healthcare systems was an amazing experience and inspired me to continue exploring the various ways in which diabetes is managed throughout the world,” Elizabeth said.

Elizabeth’s mission to raise awareness about T1D globally didn’t stop there! In 2022, she collaborated with JDRF U.K. to help promote their Youth Ambassador program, recording videos to encourage young adults in the U.K. to participate.

Elizabeth is currently Co-President of Harvard’s Diabetes Link chapter, which gives students living with T1D an inclusive and supportive space to connect with others who “just get it.”

Featured Member: Claire Shelton

One memory from JDRF’s 2017 Children’s Congress stands out to Claire Shelton. “An FBI agent talked about her struggles with type 1 diabetes (T1D) in her career and how she was able to overcome those obstacles,” Claire remembers. “Her story still inspires me today to never let my disease stop me.”

Claire enjoys helping others and encouraging kids with T1D to not let the disease stop them from achieving their goals and dreams. She believes strongly in the power of using your voice to advocate for change. “You live it every day—share your story about what it’s like to have type 1 diabetes,” she said.

In 10 years, Claire sees herself on her way to becoming a doctor. “I know the journey will be hard, but I’m passionate about working in the medical field.”

Claire is thankful that JDRF has given her the opportunity to raise awareness and advocate for issues important to her, including insulin affordability, and believes she is helping to make an impact. “JDRF allows people like me to make a difference in lives around the world,” she said.

Featured Member: Sophia Galuppo

Sophia Galuppo is passionate about spearheading social change. From posting flyers about the injustices of diabetes supply accessibility in her community to speaking about life with T1D at televised school board meetings, Sophia believes education is power. She has also met with politicians at both the state and federal levels to advocate for insulin affordability.

Sophia overcame her “middle school insecurities” after diagnosis by using her love of crafts to raise awareness about life with T1D. She wove string bracelets of different shades of blue linked with a circle charm in the middle. To receive a bracelet, a person had to read pamphlet Sophia wrote on the ins and outs of T1D. “I found a voice for myself,” she said. “Blue Bracelets made me more confident with T1D and with building a community.”

The sense of community Sophia feels with JDRF has also branched out to her family—they have participated in many OneWalks and Galas. Sophia is just getting started.  “I plan to continue advocacy efforts for as long as it takes for change to arise.”

Featured Member: Jonah Marks

Jonah Marks did some of his most important work during the COVID-19 pandemic as President of the JDRF Southern California Chapter Youth Ambassadors. “I kept morale up during a time when it was hard to stay positive,” he said. He conducted weekly Zoom calls and organized online games to play with them weekly.

Jonah is no stranger to advocacy. A JDRF 2013 Children’s Congress Delegate, his most vivid memory was when then Vice-President Joe Biden came to see all the delegates. “I was able to shake his hand and introduce myself!”

Jonah and his family are longtime One Walk participants—it’s an event that’s incredibly meaningful to him. “One Walk is a visual representation of the people in my family who come out every year to celebrate the progress both I and JDRF have made since the last walk.”

He’s currently studying Psychology and Biotechnology at the University of California Santa Cruz and hopes to use his degree to help others living with T1D.

Featured Member: Adriana Richard

Adriana believes in the power of community. She discovered JDRF in 2017 and immediately felt “loved, seen, and heard.” Adriana was a JDRF Children’s Congress Delegate in 2019 and the experience was transformative. “It was the opportunity I needed to realize we all have stories to tell, and we should tell them.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Adriana and two of her fellow Delegates, Sophie Rinzler, and Natalie Brogan, started a virtual community for kids with T1D called T1D To The Third to keep the younger T1D community connected. “We aim to create a safe place for kids and teens living with T1D to come together and have fun!”

Adriana is currently in her senior year of college for Elementary and Special Education and plans on being a school counselor after graduation. She is thrilled to be a member of JDRF’s Advocates in Action Council to continue to advocate for those who can’t.

One thing remains certain for Adriana: She’ll always stay connected to her type 1 diabetes support system.  “I continue to be the happiest and healthiest 20-year-old I can be because of my T1D community!”