Every year the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) elects new leaders, which is normally not big news for us. However, this year’s new AADE leadership should be turning heads among the patient community — because two of the ladies at the helm have been rare champions of engaging with patients and the DOC (diabetes online community) over the past several years.
Starting in January, beloved diabetes advocate and Washington DC-based educator Hope Warshaw will begin as president-elect before taking over as president in 2016. And incoming president for 2015 is Deborah Greenwood, a longtime California educator who’s currently a board member and is second only to Hope in actively working with the DOC.
If you’ve been into D-Advocacy in recent years then you probably know Hope’s name, as she’s featured in the Diabetes Advocates brochure and has been a powerful voice in talking up the online community at conferences and helping to bring in DOC representation. She’s even created a DOC info flyer to hand out to other D-educators, about how important peer support is to the success of patients.
After the AADE’s big annual meeting a few weeks ago, we had a chance to catch up with both Deb and Hope to not only reflect on that meeting, but also hear their thoughts on the future of their organization and diabetes education overall. Note that most of our questions on “official AADE business” were aimed at Deb, since she’s a current board member so more equipped to handle those in an official capacity.
Chatting with two people on a number of fronts isn’t a quick conversation, so we’ve done our best to condense this into a digestible format that isn’t too long…
DM) First, tell us about the terms of your respective leadership spots and how you transition into those roles?
DG) Elections are in June, and new officers don’t take office until January 2015 for a year. And so I will become president then, and Hope will become president-elect. But to be eligible, you must be on the board for a number of years before and everyone is involved in leadership roles, so there’s a lot of experience you gather before coming into a particular role.
HW) There’s a flow of leadership and a lot is held together through … transitioning roles, up the ladder. I become president-elect at end of December/start of the year, and right now I’m kind of like the lady in waiting and learning a lot.
What do you see as AADE’s current biggest challenges?
DG) I think increasing access to quality education is our biggest challenge right now. It continues to be an under-utilized service and benefit. Medicare recognizes that only 75% of people with diabetes receive this, so we have to do better, through our national awareness campaign to educate the public and providers that DSME (diabetes self-management education) is a benefit and more people need to know about this. The AADE is also focused on translating data into evidence showing the impact of diabetes education, to help our case. With recent CDC numbers showing there are 86 million people with pre-diabetes, we have to do better and we’ve partnered with them to reach this growing population.
HW) On translating data into evidence, there’s a really exciting systematic review that we’ve been working on for more than a year and the board got a preview of recently. We have to be able to show real improvement in health outcomes as we are trying to get reimbursement for diabetes education services.