Meet The Team

Sonia Chritton, President

Sonia’s sister has Type I diabetes, and her son was diagnosed when he was 20 months old. She has two other children participating in prevention trials. One of her sons has reversed his autoantibodies, and you can learn more at  Her son who has been living with Type 1 diabetes for 28 years built his own artificial pancreas system, and you can learn more at  She is encouraged that parents now have tools and knowledge which is openly shared, because of the open source community.  She has been actively donating, fundraising, studying, writing and reviewing Type I research projects for twenty years and has several articles in peer reviewed journals. She previously served on the ADA and JDRF boards and helped to review research grants for the JDRF. She has a B.S. in Finance and a M.S. in Systems Management from the University of Southern California.

Heather Speer, Vice President of Research

Heather Speer, MPH., CDE became immersed in diabetes research, advocacy and education when her daughter was diagnosed at a very young age.  She is now a proud grandmother. She continues her work at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) as a Senior Research Coordinator, assisting with multiple research projects and educational outreach. In addition to her contributions with our foundation, she also has been an active volunteer for the PADRE foundation, ADA, JDRF and other diabetes related charities. She also has been active with the Children With Diabetes Friends For Life conferences for many years providing education to families who attend from throughout the world.

Athena Pengg, Vice President Outreach

Athena was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes at eleven years old and immediately became involved with the Diabetes Research Institute in Miami. She attends the Children With Diabetes Friends For Life conferences annually.  Athena enjoys travel, research, and has become very involved with the Montessori Model United Nations Program over the last three years.  Athena is currently a sixteen year old college student pursuing a degree in economics with plans to become an economist.

Patty ODonnell, Secretary

Patty became involved in diabetes research and fundraising when her son was diagnosed at age five.  Annual JDRF walks, diabetes camps and fundraisers have been an important part of her journey with her son for over 25 years.  As an activist parent, she has advocated for the best care for her son and others. In addition to her diabetes activism, she is involved in numerous other clubs and activities.