Happening People

Dana Tessler

“We moved to Eugene when I was 11,” says Dana Tessler, whose family had previously lived “all over New Jersey.” After attending South Eugene High School, she left for Colorado, planning to establish residency. Instead, she returned to study anthropology at the University of Oregon while working four part-time jobs in food service and bookkeeping. She graduated, then started work as a once-a-month bookkeeper at Rainbow Valley Design and Construction. “I became a partner four years later, in 1993,” she says. “I’m the only woman among nine partners.” She also got pregnant in a relationship that ended and gave birth to a daughter, Elliana, becoming a single mom in 1995. “I raised her and brought her to work,” she says. “She grew up in the construction business.” At age 11, Elliana got sick and spent eight days in the hospital, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. “It was earth-shattering,” Tessler says. “Most people don’t understand the impact on daily life, the anxiety and isolation.” Type 1 diabetes treatment requires around-the-clock monitoring of blood sugar levels and injections of insulin. In 2011, Tessler started a parents’ group called Mama I’m Low, offering monthly parent group meetings, peer mentoring, and free recreation opportunities for families with children who have type 1. “I printed fliers to spread the word,” she says. “It caught on after a year or so.” Mama I’m Low gained nonprofit status in 2015 and entered a partnership with the city of Eugene’s Adaptive Recreation Department in 2017. Learn about upcoming meetings and events at mamaimlow.com. Elliana Tessler, a South Eugene grad like her mom, is currently a student in the Family and Human Services Program at the UO.