Patrick mertes                                             executive director

Patrick is in constant motion. Since his diagnosis with type 1 diabetes (T1D) in 1997, he has refused to let the condition slow him down. Professionally, he has spent nearly a decade designing and directing camp and outdoor programs for the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and Diabetes Youth Families (DYF). Life with type 1 has offered Patrick the opportunity to expand his T1D community throughout the US, within Central America, and as far south as Santiago, Chile.  

Patrick has spent the last three years in the Bay Area, California developing and directing family retreats, residential summer camps, and high-adventure programs for youth and families affected by T1D. Having co-founded The Diabetes Family Connection in 2018, he is excited to further foster a community for families affected by the condition.

In his free time, Patrick is an avid traveler and outdoorsman. He loves a good dad joke, spending time with friends around a campfire, and exploring the backcountry.

Contact Patrick: Patrick@thedfc.org / (p) 919.931.0223


Leigh E. lipsi, RN, CDE                        clinical director 

Leigh was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 10 and attended diabetes camp in King, NC right after her diagnosis. The friendships and guidance she gained through camp formed a lifelong community of support that inspired her desire to educate others about the condition. She is actively involved with her community and has spent the last six years working part-time as the Diabetes Program Coordinator at her local hospital. Having co-founded The Diabetes Family Connection, she looks forward to bringing her experience and relationships in the diabetes community to The DFC’s programs. Leigh is also a certified pump trainer for the WNC region. 

Leigh and her husband, Jotham, enjoy running their local coffee roasting business, Pisgah Coffee Roasters, and homeschooling their two boys! In their spare time, they love playing in the mountains of WNC, tending to their garden, 11 chickens, 1 duck named Lightning Gerald, and playing guitar overlooking the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains! 

Contact Leigh: Leigh@thedfc.org / (p) 828.398.0236

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