The Challenge Voice
Welcome to the official blog of the Alexa Diabetes Challenge. Read the latest news and announcements and go behind-the-scenes with the Challenge team.

Blog Post

September 22, 2017
Meet Our Mentors
8 experts helping the finalists advance their voice solutions

Demo Day is just around the corner this Monday, September 25th, and our finalists have been busy preparing their voice-enabled solutions for diabetes management. Since the Challenge Boot Camp, the finalists had the opportunity to work one-one-one with eight different mentors. We paired each team with a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) to provide them deep insights into the day-to-day patient experience of living with type 2 diabetes. The finalists also had access to experts in behavior change psychology, voice user experience, cloud computing, and startup investment to receive individualized feedback on all aspects of solution design as they developed a prototype.

Thank you to our mentors for contributing their time and expertise to the Challenge:

Amy Bucher
Behavior Change Design Director, Mad*Pow
Mad*Pow’s Behavior Change Design Director, Amy has always been fascinated with how things (and especially people) work. Her interest drove her choice to become a psychologist and is why she came to apply psychology to behavior change design. Before coming to Mad*Pow, Amy worked at CVS Health, Johnson & Johnson Health and Wellness Solutions (formerly Wellness & Prevention, formerly HealthMedia), and Big Communications. Amy has her Ph.D. and M.A from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and her A.B. from Harvard University.

Patrick Combes
Global Technical Leader – Healthcare & Life Sciences, Amazon Web Services
Patrick joined Amazon Web Services (AWS) in April 2016 and is responsible for AWS’ world-wide technical strategy in Healthcare and Life Sciences (HCLS). Patrick helps develop and implement the strategic plan to engage customers and partners in the industry and leads the community of technically focused HCLS specialists within AWS. Patrick began his career in scientific computing at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FNAL). He continued as a kernel, PE & integration engineer at Cray, developed HPC applications for genomics and proteomics at Rosetta Biosoftware (Merck), built life science and healthcare applications at Microsoft Research (MSR), and was Chief Architect for Life Sciences and HPC at EMC.

Mary Costa
Chief Executive Officer, Transform Your Diabetes Health
Mary is a Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator who has worked for one of the largest HMOs in the country for nearly 30 years. She works exclusively with adults who have diabetes: consulting, teaching, advising, and adjusting medications to help her patients reach healthy blood sugar levels. Mary is also the president and CEO of “Transform Your Diabetes Health” an online organization which offers education and coaching for people with diabetes. Mary has worked with diverse populations, and has seen what works, and what doesn’t, and recognizes that living with and managing diabetes is not a quick fix, but an investment.

Amy Hess-Fischl
Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, The University of Chicago Medical Center
Amy is an advanced practice dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator, and has been working with diabetes patients for 21 years. For the past 10 years, she has been working at the University of Chicago, and serves as coordinator for Kovler’s Teen InTransit program. Amy is an active speaker on all aspects of diabetes care and has been asked to speak at various conferences within the US and worldwide. She has expertise in diabetes management, including for children and teens with diabetes, as well as technology used for treating type 2 diabetes.

Elliot Menschik
Startup Business Development – Healthcare and Life Science Ventures, Amazon Web Services
Dr. Menschik currently works in HealthCare and Life Sciences Ventures at AWS, where he builds relationship with health startups and their investors, partnering to speed their products to market. Elliot also founded and led the healthcare arm of DreamIt Ventures where he sourced, seeded, and worked alongside 40+ healthcare startups. He was previously the founder/CEO of HxTechnologies, an early player in health information exchange, and following the acquisition by Health Care Service Corporation, served as general manager at their health IT subsidiary, MEDecision. Elliot also co-founded and ran Venturef0rth, one of the first coworking spaces in Philadelphia, and teaches a course in engineering entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania.

Cathy Pearl
Vice President of User Experience, Sensely
Cathy is the author of the O’Reilly book “Designing Voice User Interfaces”. She is VP of User Experience at Sensely, making healthcare more effective and accessible with a virtual nurse avatar. During her time at Nuance and Microsoft, she designed VUIs for banks, airlines, healthcare companies, and Ford SYNC. At Volio, she built a conversational iPad app that has Esquire Magazine’s style columnist advise users on what they should wear on a first date. She has a B.S. in Cognitive Science from UC San Diego, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Indiana University.

Marika Saarinen
Clinical Pharmacist and Certified Diabetes Educator, Virginia Mason Medical Center
Marika is a Certified Diabetes Educator and clinical pharmacist at Doctor of Pharmacy at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. She works daily with patients and their medications to optimize their diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure control. She utilizes insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitoring along with lifestyle modification coaching strategies to help patients meet their targets. Marika also teaches Virginia Mason’s ADA-certified diabetes class, Living Well with Diabetes.

Jane Jeffrie Seley
Program Manager, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Dr. Seley is a Diabetes Nurse Practitioner and Certified Diabetes Educator on the Weill Cornell Glycemic Control Team in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/ Weill Cornell Medicine. Jane is a member of the 2016-2018 Board of Directors of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN), American Association of Diabetes Educators (FAADE) and the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM). Jane is an active researcher, speaker, and author committed to both patient and professional education, innovative inpatient and outpatient diabetes management strategies, designing interventions to reduce clinical inertia in diabetes care, and advancing diabetes technology as a tool to assist people living with diabetes and the clinicians that care for them.