top of page


Insulliance is a mentorship program that aims to inspire and empower teens and pre-teens living with type-1 diabetes. Insulliance aims to improve the lives of people living with diabetes by helping them to understand their personal diabetes story and dynamic relationship to it. We also hope to facilitate dialogue and create partnerships that have the capacity to build and strengthen the diabetes community as a whole. We believe that participating in this program can improve both the quality of life and glycemic control of those living with diabetes, contributing to a more resilient, empowered, and connected diabetes community in the Bay Area and beyond.

Our mentors are college-age or recent college graduates living with diabetes. Insulliance Mentors should commit to the program for at least 1 year, and agree to contact their teen mentee at least once a month, and attend bi-annual Insulliance events. Insulliance Mentors connect, listen, encourage, and share with teens living with diabetes. They provide emotional support and helpful non-medical information to their teen mentees living with diabetes and their families. They can share personal experiences, tips and tricks, and helpful insights. A goal of the Insulliance program is to help normalize the condition—to show patients diabetes is a shared and manageable experience. In addition to providing peer support, Insulliance mentors provide patients with a list of resources such as smartphone app recommendations and a community resource list (e.g., sports camps and social groups for teens, young children, or parents of children with diabetes) in an attempt to help patients connect with others who also live with diabetes. Each mentor undergoes a thorough interview and training process. Some mentors previously served on site in the pediatric endocrinology department of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, CA before the program expanded and restructured to accommodate the social-distancing requirements enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic. As clinic visits return to their previous in-person form, we plan to host both the in-person program in the clinic, and the virtual mentoring program online. Further, we are looking to expand our network of hospitals to initiate more program pilots.

The program was founded by Heather R. Walker, who worked alongside Sarah Afzal, our first president, in order to bring the program to fruition. To this day, we use most of the original material developed and authored by Heather. The current president and coordinator of Insulliance is Kaavian Shariati.

What does the program look like?

The Insulliance program has been designed around personalized ‘My Diabetes Books’. Both mentees and mentors will create, maintain, and utilize their own log books to track diabetes management, both physically and mentally. We designed the program in this way because of how the creation of our own diabetes books inspired a drastic change in our overall diabetes health. We hope to move beyond simply monitoring blood sugar numbers, insulin numbers, carbohydrate numbers, and calculation numbers. We will take note of what happened during the day leading up to events related to diabetes, and discuss our response to those events; was it a low day, or a good day? Diabetes is a number game, but a number game that involves the heart. The heart parts need to be explored to ensure a holistic change in diabetes self-care at any age.

The program will result in the formation of mentor-to-mentee partnerships built on trust, mutual life experience, and open dialogue. These partnerships will work to inspire a tighter diabetes community within the entire group of participants. Insulliance will utilize personalized ‘My Diabetes Books’ created by participants during the first group meeting.

We measure the success by holding social events each month that feature an “update and reflection” session in which all participants explore triumphs and tribulations together in a safe and supportive space. We will get feedback on what parts of the program work, which ones do not, and which are in need of improvement. We expect the participants to report an overall improvement in desire to self-manage.

We will also measure success by tracking mentor and mentee’s A1C levels at the beginning of the program, and at the three, six, nine, and twelve month marks. We expect A1C levels to improve rapidly in the beginning and then maintain a healthy range for the remainder of the program while participants further develop their relationship with diabetes.


We are always looking for more!

The material on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for medical advice from a qualified medical or mental health professional. The individuals associated with Insulliance are not medical or mental health professionals. Insulliance does not endorse any specific treatment centers, physicians, healthcare providers, mental health professionals, tests, products, services, procedures, opinions, or other information that are mentioned on the web site.

Always consult your physician or other qualified healthcare or mental health provider for advice, diagnosis and treatment of any health-related matter, including relating to diabetes and/or eating disorders. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

We would like to acknowledge and thank Heather R. Walker, the founder of Insulliance, for all of the energy she directed toward building the first iteration of the program, and for carefully drafting the written materials and guidelines we still rely upon today. We would also like to thank Sarah Afzal (Former President and Mentor), Emily Swide (Former Mentor), and Carrie Stearns (Former Mentor) for their early roles on the team, which were essential to our success.

bottom of page