Natalie Stanback: Representing Women in Advocacy

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JDRF 2023 Children's Congress Chair Natalie Stanback on Capitol Hill

JDRF Advocacy spokesperson Natalie Stanback on Capitol Hill at the JDRF 2023 Children’s Congress

Natalie Stanback knows type 1 diabetes (T1D), she knows advocacy, and she knows how to get things done on Capitol Hill.

When her daughter, Nadia, was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 3, it did not come out of the blue. Natalie’s brother, Michael, had been diagnosed 24 years prior. “Given my prior knowledge and experience, Nadia’s diagnosis was breathtaking but not as traumatic as it could have been,” Natalie said.

Today, Nadia is thriving and almost entirely managing her T1D on her own. She’s a champion on the soccer field, involved in her middle school’s theatre program, and “the best big sister” to her siblings. Natalie attributes her daughter’s full and healthy life to advances driven by research and advocacy.

Advocating for Progress

Natalie and her family have been active in the type 1 diabetes community for years. Their involvement with JDRF started with One Walk and Team JDRF. That’s also where Natalie began speaking publicly about the positive impact JDRF makes on her family and everyone living with T1D.

Natalie entered the world of JDRF Advocacy at the JDRF 2019 Children’s Congress, where Nadia was a Delegate and spoke to her Members of Congress about what it’s like to live with T1D, and why Federal research funding and insulin affordability are critical. The experience made a huge impression on Natalie. “We loved the ability to do something,” she said. “It was such a tangible validation and inspiration.”

From then on, Natalie was a resounding voice in the T1D community. Good Morning America profiled the Stanback family in 2021 to raise awareness about T1D. In 2022, she briefed Congress on the real-world impact of the insulin affordability crisis. And Natalie served as Chair at the JDRF 2023 Children’s Congress, a full-circle moment for her and her family. “Helping to foster hope and ignite the advocacy fire in others has been tremendously rewarding,” she said.

Sharing her Story with the U.S. Senate

Most recently, in December 2023, Natalie testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) in a hearing about diabetes in America alongside JDRF CEO Aaron Kowalski, Ph.D. They spoke about the need for affordable insulin and the importance of renewing the Special Diabetes Program (SDP).

“The SDP has supported research that directly contributed to the development of the incredible devices Nadia relies on every day,” Natalie said to the Committee. “We need to ensure the advances made possible by this program continue.”

During the hearing, Natalie also discussed the impact T1D has on daily life. She admitted that even as a “glass half-full” family, the burden of T1D is immense. “It takes a village to raise a child,” she said. “It takes a city to raise a child with diabetes.”

Women Warriors

A photo of the Stanback Family

As a caregiver, Natalie faces her own challenges with T1D. “Burnout is real,” she said. “It’s important for me to catch the signs of it so I can manage the mental load and maintain mindfulness.”

She recognizes that women, whether they like it or not, are often the “default parent” when it comes to caring for a child with T1D. To her, that’s a perfect reason for more women to join in JDRF’s advocacy efforts.

“Women are trailblazers,” she said. “Our footsteps are the ones our children most commonly step into first. We have an opportunity to lead them into the future we dream of.”

Sadly, Natalie’s brother passed away from T1D complications in 2020. That fueled her drive for progress and cures even more. Natalie will continue advocating for Nadia, the memory of her brother, and the entire T1D community until the condition is a thing of the past. “A better future for my daughter is why I do this,” she said. “I am so grateful that JDRF has provided me with a platform to make it a reality.”

Learn more about how you can get involved in JDRF Advocacy.