Get to Know Sara Jensen: Executive Committee Chair
From the start
Ever since Beyond Type 1 was founded in 2015, Creative Director Sara Jensen has served as one of the pillars of the organization. Sara’s son Henry, now 12, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2013.
“We live on a remote Island in the Pacific Northwest,” Sara says. “We didn’t know anybody that had type 1 diabetes.”
Admittedly, one of the only points of reference she remembers having was “The Babysitters Club.”
“My husband is a writer and he’s really into researching. He reads a lot of information very quickly. So his sort of coping mechanism when Henry was in the hospital was just reading every single thing he could find on type 1 diabetes,” Sara recalls.
“We felt really lonely though. We knew this one other family with a girl with type 1, but our kids weren’t really that close in age,” she says. “Six and 12-year-olds don’t want to hang out with each other. It just felt really isolating.”
Although Sara tried to connect with other type 1 diabetes (T1D) organizations to utilize her creative background and help in any way that she could, nobody seemed to get back to her. Sara’s introduction to Beyond Type 1 came from a chance connection to one of its founders, Chef Sam Talbot.
“I had started an Instagram account, so I would occasionally tag things with T1D and then I realized I could find more people,” Sara says. “One day this guy liked one of Henry’s photos and I was like, ‘Oh, this is a chef guy. His name is Sam Talbot.’”
“I had no idea who he was,” Sara admits. “But he kept liking all of Henry’s photos and so we ordered his book. Henry really likes cooking, he was really into it and made me cook everything out of the book. So we sort of interacted with Sam a bit online.”
Meant to be
What started as an occasional social media friendship one day turned into a meeting in a Brooklyn park near where Sara and her family were housesitting. It happened to be where Sam walked his dog every day and they decided to meet up.
“Henry’s blood sugar started crashing super rapidly and when he goes low, and he’s in a good mood, he is like dancing on tables and telling people he loves them,” Sara says, “And so Henry is dancing on tables and Sam walked over and they hung out, and that’s how we met.”
Henry and Sam realized that they even share a very important anniversary – their diaversary! Their T1D diagnosis date is the same, just 24 years apart.
Sam soon confided in Sara that he was in the conceptual stages of creating a nonprofit organization for type 1 diabetes with co-founders Sarah Lucas and Juliet de Baubigny.
“I was like, well let me just design the logo and do the creative work for you for free,” Sara recalls. “So, I’ve been there since day one in the dog park.”
Sara created the well-known drop logo for Beyond Type 1 and started producing visual assets among other things. She also became hyper-focused on recruiting people to check out the budding organization via social media.
“I was just telling everybody that I could,” Sara says. “It was like trying to take care of everybody in a way that I felt like we weren’t taken care of. That’s kind of how my heart is involved in Beyond Type 1.”
Sara was eventually hired full-time as creative director for Beyond Type 1. Through her position with the ever-expanding organization, Henry’s Instagram popularity also grew, not only allowing him to make more meaningful connections with other people with type 1, but also making him something of a “face” for BT1. He has had the opportunity to participate in various campaigns and promos with other noteworthy T1Ds such as Victor Garber—and of course, his buddy Sam.
“There’s only so much that my husband and I can do to connect with Henry over type 1,” Sara says. “But with somebody like Sam or somebody like Rob Howe—there’s a connection there that you can’t make as a parent with your child unless you have type 1. You just have that understanding of each other about your body and how things are different, and how your frustrations are different.”
Sara and husband, Thor (who serves as Beyond Type 1’s web developer) are also parents to Rose, 12. Together, the Jensen clan travels frequently for advocacy opportunities. In addition to Beyond Type 1, they are passionate about organizations like Mutt Scouts and Girls Inc.
Switching it up
Sara has recently been appointed as the Beyond Type 1 Leadership Council’s executive committee chair, overseeing progress of all eight committees: Advocacy, Programs, Outreach, Ambassador, Diversity, Scientific Advisory, Content and Fundraising.
“We have really motivated people on leadership council and every committee is super important to me,” Sara says. “One that is especially important to me is the Diversity Committee.”
Sara remembers attending fundraising walks in the early years of Henry’s life with type 1 and seeing posters up of T1D children—all Caucasian. “There’s a real need to diversify and show more faces,” she adds.
Sara is confident that these new council designations and developments within the committees will be more productive than ever.
“I think that when people take things that they’re really passionate about, we’re going to get a lot more done. If you think about how much we’ve accomplished in four or five years, it’s going to be really great having people deeply focused on certain things like advocacy and fundraising and diversity,” Sara says. “I just think it’s going to amplify everybody.”
One thing that won’t change is the work ethic of the team.
“With Beyond Type 1, I’ve never met a team that works harder,” Sara adds. “I wish that everybody could see our to-do lists for a week, because they would probably start crying. But we all get it done.”
Learn more about the team at Beyond Type 1—including our awesome Leadership Council.
Check out more from Sara—read her story on type 1 parenting—I Can’t Sleep.