In Loving Memory of Kip Hawley, Founding Member of the former JDRF Monterey Branch

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by Sandra Silvestri, Founding Member of the former JDRF Monterey Branch

JDRF has asked me to write something on the passing of my friend, Kip Hawley who passed away in March at the age of 68.

There is much I could say about Kip but most of it has already been said by those who knew him from his many achievements in business and in his service to our country through the TSA. His obituaries are many and include the New York Times and other notable publications. My memories of Kip Hawley are more personal and come from knowing him as a fellow parent of a child with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

The first time I heard of Kip was when my daughter saw a blood glucose meter in the nurses’ office of my children’s small private school. She came home very excited saying, “There’s another family with diabetes at school!” This was a rare occurrence and one we were careful not to announce to anyone else. We did, however, ask our principal to ask the family if they would be interested in meeting us. Luckily for us, they agreed. We were at the beginning of journey into advocacy. Our son, Joey, had been diagnosed at age 2 and I had found my way to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (now known simply as JDRF) looking for support. We met the Hawley family shortly after this and together, we founded a branch of the JDRF in Monterey, CA.

From the beginning, Kip and Janet were wonderful additions to our efforts. They were recent transplants to our town but this did not prevent them from immediately taking action at our local JDRF. They attended all our meetings and avidly participated in fundraising activities as well as any advocacy efforts that we initiated. They brought a level of intelligence and commitment rarely seen in newly diagnosed families. Their Washington D.C. experience was invaluable to our fledgling efforts, and we owe much to their willingness to meet with the local political community on our behalf. Kip had tremendous connections in Washington, D.C. but he always approached things from an informed and practical position. Additionally, he was a supporter of our local efforts to raise awareness about T1D in our own community. Kip showed up for every effort including painting signs for a local kiddie fair, writing letters to raise funds, and hosting our walk accounting team at his home.

In 1999, I was asked to be the Chair-Mom of the first JDRF Children’s Congress. The Children’s Congress is a national grassroots approach to advocacy where T1D children learn to speak for themselves in asking for federal funding to find a cure. Kip and Janet’s son, Nick, applied to the Children’s Congress and was accepted as one of the advocates from CA. Kip and Nick immediately went into action and arranged meetings with congressional staff to advocate for NIH funding. Kip’s guidance of his son was very inspiring as we delivered our message on the Hill.

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Kip was asked to lead the team that created TSA and later served as Administrator of TSA for four years. Kip still managed to be a great father and a great advocate for families with T1D. Kip understood the importance of blood glucose machines and insulin supplies for people with T1D and he made sure that access to these supplies was included in the TSA’s action plan.

Recently, Kip had retired and was enjoying the benefits of grandchildren. I will miss seeing his photographs on social media enjoying his newest grandchild. He seemed very happy. I feel blessed to have known Kip and I count myself lucky to have met him during some of the worst days of my life. He helped to make those days livable by supporting and encouraging action as an antidote to pain. This is how I will think of him, as a friend who supported action as reaction. On behalf of my family and our JDRF family, I send my condolences to Janet, Nick, Chris and their families and I want them to know that Kip left his mark on Monterey and across JDRF and that we will be forever grateful for his time with us. God Bless him on his way.