The Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition’s Board of Directors and staff are comprised of passionate leaders in the diabetes community. Many are people with diabetes themselves; all have family members or close friends who live with diabetes. 

Board of Directors

Bruce Taylor – Chair

Mr. Taylor is a healthcare veteran with more than 35 years of experience in senior sales, marketing, health policy and advocacy positions with pharmaceutical manufacturers, chain pharmacies, managed care, and medical device manufacturers. Bruce has extensive experience within numerous therapeutic areas that include cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, burn care, diabetes, lipids and CNS. Bruce co-founded the Diabetes Care Project with the National Minority Quality Forum to address the worldwide epidemic of diabetes and the impact to local, national and global communities.

He actively participates on advisory boards for the ADA, AACE, CWD, AADE, The Endocrine Society, the National Minority Quality Forum and AMGF. Mr. Taylor is a highly regarded expert, prominent thought leader and sought-after speaker on topics that include business implications and legislative impacts to the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.

Diabetes isn’t just a professional assignment for Bruce but a disease that is personal and demands his attention 24/7/365. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 1980 and has actively managing his diabetes for over 30 years. Bruce earned a Bachelor of Science degree (human anatomy / physiology) from Baldwin Wallace College with post graduate work in cardiac physiology. In his prime, Bruce Taylor owned the distinction of world class powerlifter and qualified for the 1980 Olympic games. He is currently the Director of Government Affairs and Market Access at Dexcom.

Stewart Perry  – Vice Chair

Since 1983, Mr. Perry has been the co-owner of Perry & Perry State Farm Insurance, one of the largest State Farm Insurance agencies in the state of Kentucky and is a Diabetes Consultant and Advocate. Stewart’s family has been dramatically affected by diabetes. His son has type 1 diabetes, both parents, and sister have all had diabetes during their lifetime. He has lost an uncle, grandfather and great grandmother to complications of diabetes.

Stewart was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1990. Since that time, he has been actively involved in the American Diabetes Association. Stewart was the Chairman of the National Board of Directors and Chair of the National Advocacy Committee for five years, He was Chair Bluegrass Chapter for a number of years and helped organize many of the fundraising events still in existence. He served as the Kentucky Affiliate Board of Vice-Chair and was Chair-Elect when it became a part of the Southern Region where he served as the Chair of the Southern Region. He also is a former member of the National Board of Directors. He is the State of Kentucky State Advocacy Chair for ADA and sits on the board of T-1 Today, Inc. (Children With Diabetes).

Stewart is a member of the Kentucky Diabetes Network and a founding member of the Fayette County Diabetes Coalition. Stewart was appointed by two different Governors of Kentucky to the GET FIT KY Board and The Diabetes Research Trust Fund Board where he currently still serves. Stewart is one of the founders of the National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council and currently serves as an officer of that organization. Where he has been instrumental in passing Diabetes Action Plan legislation in 18 states over the past four years.

Lawrence T. Smith, MBA – Treasurer

In addition to serving as a current board member of the NDVLC, Larry Smith is the founder and manager of a national marketing research and consulting firm in Lexington, Kentucky. His business performs marketing research for firms in a number of industries, particularly the financial services industry.

Prior to starting his own company, Larry served as SVP, VP, and Director of Marketing at several high-value financial organizations in Kentucky and Virginia. He holds an MBA from the University of Louisville.

Larry’s work with the American Diabetes Association is extensive. He has served as Chair of the Kentucky Affiliate and of the Southern Region. He was either a member or Chair of the Inclusion, Marketing, Communications, CEO Selection, Income Development, and Diversity committees. And he has sat as both a member and the Chair of the Board of Directors.

In 2001, the ADA honored Larry with the Addison B. Scoville Award for Volunteerism, and in 2008, he won the Wendell Mays award.

Alissa Heizler-Mendoza, MA, RD, CDE – Secretary

Alissa Heizler-Mendoza is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator and has vast experience and expertise within the diabetes arena for > 20 years.  Alissa began her career at the Clinical Diabetes Center at the University Hospital of the Albert Einstein College, a division of Montefiore prior to transitioning into industry as a Senior Medical Science Liaison at Amylin Pharmaceuticals for 10 years.  

As Alissa’s interest in strategic planning evolved, she joined at Boehringer Ingelheim to develop a successful Global KOL platform and is currently leading the Advocacy Team at Insulet Corporation, a leader in tubeless insulin pump technology.  Alissa received her BS in Dietetics from SUNY Oneonta and a Masters in Strategic Communications and Leadership from Seton Hall University.  She is currently completing a Masters in Public Health in Behavioral Sciences at New York Medical College.  

Alissa has published articles in various journals such as Diabetes Self-Management and the Diabetes Educator and has presented at hundreds of patient and professional meetings related to her clinical, scientific, educational and advocacy expertise in diabetes. Her leadership abilities are highly recognized by various awards including the Elizabeth Seton Leadership Award from Seton Hall University.  

Neil Benchell, JD

Neil is a licensed attorney practicing in the area of intellectual property.  He has extensive experience litigating patent and trademark cases, with a particular emphasis on pharmaceutical patent litigation.  

Having worked within the diabetes community for several years, Neil currently partners with a number of diabetes-specific non-profit organizations.  In particular, Neil has been most actively involved with the Children With Diabetes organization, where he is one of the leaders of its Teen Programming.  Neil has also held leadership positions in other non-profit organizations.  

Neil is an adjunct professor at Loyola University of Chicago, School of Law where he teaches a course on patent litigation.  He has authored articles on copyright law, and book chapters on patent litigation and pharmaceutical patent litigation.  Neil has also lectured on intellectual property issues at a number of conferences including diabetes related conferences.  Neil received his J.D. from Loyola University of Chicago and his B.A. from Indiana University.


Patty Martin, MBA

Patty Martin “graduated,’ commonly referred to as retirement, from Eli Lilly and Company in June of this year celebrating an eclectic and energizing 26-year career. She is an accomplished, multi-disciplinary leader, known for her “can do,” “truth speaks to power,” no-nonsense approach to business operations and problem solving.

After graduating from Harvard Business School in 1991, Patty joined Lilly and held over a dozen positions across a variety of corporate functions.  Most recently, she was the Chief Operating Officer for Lilly Diabetes. In this role, she established the 2020 vision and strategy for Lilly Diabetes.  Her responsibilities included global corporate affairs, product launch readiness, business operations, productivity initiatives and corporate governance.

Prior to Lilly Diabetes, Martin was Lilly’s Chief Diversity Officer responsible for not only workforce diversity but also marketplace diversity; the goal of which was to ensure patient differences were considered in clinical trial design, marketing and commercialization. Lilly was named to Diversity, Inc,’s Top 100 companies for the first time in 2000.

Additional experiences included the positions of Executive Director, Lilly Centre for Women’s Health –  the Company’s first foray into the importance of women as healthcare decision makers, as well as uniquely feminine illnesses; Executive Director, Office of Alliance Management – responsible for the successful integration of third-party research and development relationships; and Global Platform Team Leader for osteoporosis product development and commercialization, and Assistant Treasurer/Sr. Director of Investor Relations, where she navigated the complicated relationship between the company, Wall Street analysts and Lilly investors.

Patty is a member of the board of trustees of CareSource Management Group, Inc., a leading nonprofit managed care company based in Dayton, Ohio. In 2016, she served as the 500 Festival Chairman for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016. She is a member of Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business Dean’s Council and the IU Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council. Patty is also an Emeritus member of the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana and a mentor for the Global Social Business Initiative at the Miller Center for Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University.

A native Hoosier, born in Wabash, Indiana, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Indiana University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. 

Gary Puckrein, Ph.D

Gary A. Puckrein is President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Minority Quality Forum. Dr. Puckrein also serves as Executive Director of the Alliance of Minority Medical Associations—a collaborative effort of the Asian and Pacific Physicians’ Association, the Association of American Indian Physicians, and the National Medical Association. In 1998 he founded the Forum’s predecessor program (the National Minority Health Month Foundation) to help communities and policy makers eliminate the disproportionate burden of premature death and preventable illness in special populations through the use of evidence-based, data-driven initiatives.

Dr. Puckrein has built the Forum’s capacity to house vital statistics and other information—including demographic, environmental, claims, prescription, laboratory, hospital, and clinic data—in a centralized data warehouse. Dr. Puckrein has also led the development of the Forum’s health indexes and atlases to measure and forecast health status in small geographic areas, evaluate the impact of specific interventions, monitor changes in health outcomes, and provide information and analysis regarding the health of ethnic and racial minorities. Dr. Puckrein published two successful magazines: American Visions and Minority Health Today. Dr. Puckrein was awarded his doctorate from Brown University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa.

Christina Roth

Christina is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of CDN (College Diabetes Network). Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 14, Christina became an active patient advocate while in college where she started CDN as a campus group in 2009.

Due to the overwhelming response to the initial group, Christina expanded CDN into a national non-profit organization serving young adults with diabetes. After graduation, Christina worked at the Joslin Diabetes Center and consulted for the T1D Exchange. As CEO of CDN, Christina frequently speaks on topics such as CDN’s programs, research on the young adult population and how to meet their unique needs, non-profit management, women in business, innovation, and startup organizations.

Michael R. Swearingen

Mike’s broad background in healthcare includes 30 years of management experience with increasing responsibilities at Eli Lilly & Co. and Johnson & Johnson Diabetes Care. He is currently Managing Director of Blackbriar-LLC International Consulting.

Mike’s leadership and analytic ability have been demonstrated in strategic thinking across International healthcare advocacy, policy, and KOL identification-categorization. He has worked with key thought leaders, professional medical associations, grassroots organizations, elected officials, and government agencies, to create major enduring initiatives such as “Diabetes Awareness Days,” numerous national and international medical education conferences, advisory boards, state and federal advocacy training workshops, and national sales and management meetings.

His global experience includes North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. In the U.S., Mike has been a catalyst for passage of several state legislative measures to improve healthcare outcomes. Mike was instrumental in the passage of a state licensure requirement for Diabetes Educators in the States of Kentucky and Indiana. Mike has been recognized as an honorary Physician Assistant in Indiana, and in 2014 the Diabetes Care Education practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics awarded him the national DCE Champion Award.


Christel Marchand Aprigliano, MS – CEO

As CEO of the Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC), Aprigliano focuses on U.S. federal and state diabetes policy advocacy in the areas of safety, quality, and access. In July of 2017, she offered expert witness testimony to the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health in support of H.R. 3271, “Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act of 2017.” She is a frequent guest panelist on Congressional briefings related to diabetes issues and advises other organizations on ways to engage policymakers and patients for effective dialogues.

Christel Marchand Aprigliano is an international speaker, nonprofit executive, and diabetes advocate, having lived with Type 1 diabetes since 1983. After several years in client engagement roles for multinational organizations, she turned her expertise to the chronic disease space focusing on diabetes. 

In addition to providing patient advocacy insights for panels at the International Diabetes Federation, FDA, The Atlantic, Diabetes Technology Society, Havas Health and BBK Global, she has been the keynote speaker for the World Congress Summit on Patient Centricity in Advocacy and Touched By Type 1 conferences. Aprigliano sits on the gubernatorial appointed Florida Diabetes Advisory Council and acts as a peer reviewer for diabetes journals, PCORI, and international grant organizations.

Aprigliano is also the founder of The Diabetes Collective, Inc., a nonprofit that provides adults impacted with diabetes a peer facilitated event called The Diabetes UnConference. It offers a safe, protected environment to discuss psychosocial issues living with a chronic illness and develops a peer support network for continued discussions. 

She holds a BA from McGill University (Montréal, Canada) and a MS from UMUC (Heidelberg, Germany). 

Leyla Mansour-Cole, Esq. – Community & Policy Manager

Leyla Mansour-Cole  attended American University’s Washington College of Law, where she was a lead attorney in the Disability Rights Law Clinic, a managing editor of the Health Law and Policy Brief, and a co-symposium director of the Health Law and Justice Society. She also completed internships with the D.C. Board of Medicine and the Children’s Law Center’s Healthy Together program.

Since graduating, she has worked for the government in a policy position. She was also a national organizer for the March for Health, a protest march in support of the Affordable Care Act, which occurred in Washington, D.C. and fourteen other cities across the country. Leyla has been living with Type 1 diabetes since her diagnosis in 1995.