Chair & Director
'96, BS, RN
Robin has been registered nurse since 1979 and has worked in the clinical areas of cardiology, spinal cord injury and physical rehabilitation, insurance review, as well as diabetes nurse educator. Her life was changed forever when her 10 year old son, David, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. He achieved remission for over 3 years but relapsed in 1999 and died in 2000. After David's death, the family moved to London, England where Robin became involved with an organization called the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT). It was her involvement with this foundation that made her acutely aware of the specific needs of teens and young adults suffering from cancer at various TCT inpatient cancer centers throughout the UK. These needs included physical, emotional, developmental and spiritual changes. She presented the "Parents Perspective of Adolescent Oncology" at the International Conference on Adolescent Oncology in 2004 at the Royal College of Physicians in London. This experience was pivotal in her realizing what can be done to honor David's memory. Since that time, Robin has been published in various publications including the American Journal of Nursing and American Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing on the topic of Pediatric Palliative and End of Life Care.
A summa cum laude graduate of Fairfield University's RN to BSN program in 1996, Robin credits her Fairfield education with providing her with the confidence and leadership skills to willingly take on new challenges and opportunities for growth.
Robin serves on the Board of Trustees of Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, CT and Fairfield University, and as President of the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Foundation in Greenwich, CT.
In 2006, Robin and Joe founded the Kanarek Family Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides grants for projects that would be of interest to David and honor his memory. Fairfield University was the first beneficiary of their family foundation with a $350,000 gift for the establishment of the Robin Kanarek Nursing Learning Resource Center. The Foundation has provided a two-year grant to integrate Pediatric and Adolescent Palliative Care into the Nursing curriculum and is currently funding the new Masters of Science in Nursing Leadership (LEAD) program. Led by Dr. Meredith Kazer and Dr. Sally Gerard, the LEAD program has already been recognized and awarded the Innovation in Professional Nursing Education by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing in October 2014.
Robin and Joe live in Greenwich. Their daughter, Sarah, graduated from Boston University's Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation with a Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy in January 2014.
In her free time, Robin loves to do figurative sculpting.
DNP, APRN, PCNS-BS, CHPPN
Eileen O’Shea, DNP, APRN graduated with her BSN from Boston College, and subsequently earned a MSN in pediatric critical care from the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Case Western Reserve University, with a dual focus in Practice and Educational Leadership. Eileen has more than 30 years of pediatric nursing experience, and has worked in several of the leading U.S. Children’s Hospitals, including Boston Children’s, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. As a pediatric advanced practice nurse, her expertise has been caring for children with chronic and life limiting conditions and their families. She is board certified as an advanced practice registered nurse, and holds certification as a hospice and palliative pediatric nurse (CHPPN).
For the past 10 years, she has been an ELNEC (End of Life Nursing Education Consortium) trainer, and most recently she completed the Palliative Care Education and Practice Program at Harvard Medical School. Additionally, Dr. O’Shea shares her expertise on several state and national organizations, including: President of the CT Coalition to Improve End-of-Life Care (CTEOL); Advisory Board Member to Care Decisions Connecticut; and Panel member to the Palliative and Hospice Nursing Professional Issues Panel convened by the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA). Her research focuses on enhancing palliative and end of life care for which she has received more than $150,000 in grant awards. In an effort to improve palliative care education for nurses, Dr. O’Shea frequently presents at the national and international levels, and has published in many peer review-nursing journals on this topic.
Advisory Board Members
Amy Berman, BSN, LHD Amy Berman is a Senior Program Officer with the John A. Hartford Foundation. She heads the Foundation’s development and dissemination of innovative, cost-effective Models of Care that improve health outcomes for older adults. Among these efforts, Ms. Berman is responsible for the Foundation’s work to advance palliative care led by Diane Meier and the Center to Advance Palliative Care. She also directs a number of collaborations with federal partners including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and the Administration for Community Living.
Ms. Berman openly shares her experiences living with Stage IV breast cancer. She has presented to the Institute on Medicine and has authored numerous pieces about her health care choices, palliative care and implications for patients, practice and policy. Her piece in Health Affairs, Living Life In My Own Way—And Dying That Way As Well, was among the journal’s most read in 2012. She has been featured in New York Times, Forbes, and on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show. She blogs on the Hartford Foundation’s HealthAGEnda site (www.johnahartford.org/blog) and can be followed on Twitter as @johnahartford and @notesonnursing.
Prior to the Foundation, Ms. Berman served as Nursing Education Initiatives Director for the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University College of Nursing. Among her responsibilities at New York University, Ms. Berman developed resources and programs to improve the geriatric expertise of nursing educators and clinicians. She conducted a national survey on gerontological nursing content in baccalaureate programs cited in the Institute on Medicine’s report, Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce.
Before joining New York University, Ms. Berman worked in home health care administration for twenty years with responsibility for quality improvement, health information technology, accreditation, and regulatory compliance. She served as JCAHO coordinator and as accreditation consultant in performance improvement for a variety of health care institutions. Ms. Berman served on the New York State Department of Health's Emergency Preparedness Task Force and on the professional advisory boards of health care institutions in New York City.
Ms. Berman is an appointed member of CMS’ Partnership for Patients Patient and Family Engagement Network and the Aging Task Force for Healthy People 2020. She is a member of Academy Health, the Gerontological Society of America, and the honor society of nursing, Sigma Theta Tau.
Ms. Berman has been the recipient numerous honors and awards for her advocacy on behalf of older adults and those facing serious illness. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from New York University College of Nursing, a Bachelor of Science degree in health care administration from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Geriatric Scholar Certificate from the Consortium of New York Geriatric Education Centers.
'79, MSN, RN
Mary Ann Christopher '79, MSN, RN is the vice president for Clinical Operations and Transformation at Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Sheila of New Jersey. Previously, she was the President and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY).
Christopher was previously the President and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group, serving over 127,000 people annually throughout New Jersey. As CEO, Christopher directs the operation of a broad continuum of programs including home health care, hospice care, a federally qualified health center, and community-based prevention and outreach services. During Christopher's tenure as CEO, the organization has expanded geographically from a two-county regional provider to a statewide organization.
Christopher is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, the Wharton Nurse Executive Program, and the Public Health Leadership Institute. She serves on a number of boards and commissions, including the Visiting Nurse Associations of America, where she chairs the Public Policy Council, the Advisory Board of the Seton Hall College of Nursing, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, The University Hospital, the New Jersey Hospital Association Health and Research Educational Trust (HRET) and the National Association of Home Care and Hospice. In 2008, Christopher was appointed Chair of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Advisory Commission on the New Jersey Nursing Initiative. She has participated on public policy commissions dealing with issues of homelessness, public health, child welfare, the nursing shortage, and managed care.
Christopher has written and lectured internationally on issues concerning home and community health care. Christopher earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from Fairfield University and a Master of Science Degree in Nursing from Seton Hall University. The Visiting Nurse Service of New York is the largest not-for-profit home health care organization in the nation providing a wide range of services for New Yorkers of all ages and health care needs throughout the five boroughs of New York and in Westchester and Nassau counties.
Donna Coletti, MD is the founding Medical Director for Palliative Care Services at Greenwich Hospital responsible for creating and overseeing the inpatient and outpatient models for Palliative and Hospice services as well as the educational curriculum for the Medical Residents and staff. She also holds the position of Medical Director for the Greenwich Hospital Home Hospice Program.
She started her career practicing Obstetrics and Gynecology in Mt. Kisco, New York, having been in Greenwich since 1999 and Assistant Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Greenwich Hospital for seven years. She subsequently practiced Women’s Integrative Health at the Boyd Center for Integrative Medicine where she developed an interest in Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine. As Medical Director for Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care of Southwestern Connecticut she managed medical care at the Rosenthal Hospice facility on the campus of Stamford Hospital in addition to their home hospice patients in Fairfield County. With a very generous donation from local donors, she started the Greenwich Hospital’s Palliative Care Service in 2012. As a lecturer on Women’s Health as well as Palliative and Hospice issues for Mercy College and local community groups, Dr. Coletti has also been featured on WGCH talk radio.
Donna holds a Master’s Degree in Nutrition from Rutgers University and a Medical Degree from Cornell Medical College. She completed Internship and Residency at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York and is Board Certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Hospice and Palliative Medicine. She has been published in several professional journals for contributions to the fields of Atherosclerosis and Heart Disease as well as Leukemia and Myeloproliferative Disorder in Down Syndrome.
Amy Gabriele DiTeodoro received her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Affairs from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, and a Juris Doctorate from Syracuse University College of Law. Following graduation, Amy practiced litigation in New York State and Federal courts primarily in the areas of insurance defense and coverage for clients including Alitalia Airlines, Generali Insurance and Federal Express. She became the Assistant General Counsel of Dictaphone Corporation in Stratford, Connecticut, from 2000 until 2005.
In 2005, the birth of a third child with medical issues thrust Amy into numerous pediatric hospital settings and life threatening situations. Her young son, Gianni, endured frequent surgeries including a successful kidney transplant in 2007. Gianni’s kidney was donated by his father Jack. Tragically, Gianni died in 2010 after contracting viral pneumonia.
After practicing law for an additional five years as a family lawyer from 2011 - 2016, Amy’s energy is now focused on family and volunteer efforts. Her experiences caring for Gianni and her other children has inspired and shaped her path. Amy serves on the Advisory Board of the Kanerek Center for Palliative Care Nursing Education at Fairfield University. She is a bereavement facilitator at the Den for Grieving Kids, a Stamford schools program. In addition, Amy volunteers with Filling in the Blanks, which addresses food instability for Stamford students.
Amy is married to Jack DiTeodoro, a family physician in Stamford Connecticut. She is mother to Vincent (13) Andrea (12) and Gianni who died at the age of 4.
P'96, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
Moreen O. Donahue is the Beatrice Hofstadter White Endowed Chair for Nursing Education and Research, System Senior Vice President & System Chief Nursing Officer at Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN), which includes Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, Norwalk Hospital, Western Connecticut Home Care (formerly The Danbury Visiting Nurse Association) and Western Connecticut Medical Group. Prior to joining WCHN, Dr. Donahue was Sr. Vice President, Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer at Greenwich Hospital and has held executive leadership positions in home care and hospice.
She also was the Project Coordinator for a federal grant, “Transitioning Advanced Practice Nurses to the Practice Doctorate: The Doctor of Nursing Practice Program”.
Dr. Donahue’s areas of research include patient safety, patient satisfaction, nurse empowerment and transitioning advance practice nurses to doctoral education. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the International Honor Society of Nursing. She is the recipient of the Dean’s Legacy Award, Case Western Reserve University and the Visionary Leader Award, Greenwich Hospital.
Dr. Donahue was inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2011, and was selected for the 2015 Fellowship in Innovative Health Leadership offered by Arizona State University and the American Organization of Nurse Executives in partnership with the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation.
Dr. Donahue completed her BSN degree at Boston College. Following this, she earned an MS degree in education from the State University of New York and her MSN in nursing and DNP degrees from Case Western Reserve University. She is also Board certified as a nurse executive at the advanced level and has achieved national certification as a Home Care and Hospice executive.
Dr. Donahue has made significant contributions to nursing and health care delivery. Specific areas of focus include patient safety, preventing workplace violence and advancing quality care through development of innovative partnerships across a variety of settings. She has provided leadership for several grants: a project focused on empowering nursing assistants to use SBAR communication funded by the Donaghue Medical Research Foundation, a Geriatric Family Centered Care initiative funded by the Division of Nursing, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and grants from the State of Connecticut focused on providing educational opportunities for nurses. She is also responsible for helping to develop a hospital-based cohort model for DNP degrees from Case Western Reserve University (funded by HRSA). Dr. Donahue is widely published in nursing and health care literature and has presented her research nationally and internationally.
Selected awards and honors
Patrick W. Kelley, MD, DrPH, was appointed a Distinguished Fellow in Nursing and Health Studies at Fairfield University in September 2016. His focus is on growing the University’s programming in Public Health and Global Health. Immediately prior to his current position he spent 13 years at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the US National Academies where he served as the Director of the Board on Global Health. He also served for ten year as the Director of the Board on African Science Academy Development. Dr. Kelley oversaw a portfolio of IOM expert consensus studies and convening activities on subjects as wide ranging as: the evaluation of the US emergency plan for international AIDS relief (PEPFAR); the US commitment to global health, sustainable surveillance for zoonotic infections; substandard, falsified, and counterfeit drugs; innovations in health professional education; cardiovascular disease prevention in low- and middle- income countries; interpersonal violence prevention in low- and middle-income countries; and microbial threats to health. He also directed a unique capacity-building effort, the African Science Academy Development Initiative, which over eleven years strengthened the capacity of eight African academies to provide independent, evidence-based advice to their governments on scientific matters.
Prior to the National Academies, Dr. Kelley served in the US Army for more than 23 years as a physician, residency director, epidemiologist, and program manager. In his last Department of Defense (DoD) position, Dr. Kelley founded and directed the DoD Global Emerging Infections Surveillance and Response System (DoD-GEIS). This responsibility entailed managing surveillance and capacity-building partnerships with numerous elements of the federal government and with health ministries in over 45 developing countries. He also founded the DoD Accession Medical Standards Analysis and Research Activity and served as the specialty editor for a landmark two volume textbook entitled: Military Preventive Medicine: Mobilization and Deployment. Dr. Kelley is an experienced communicator having lectured in English or Spanish in over 20 countries. He has authored or co-authored over 70 scholarly papers, book chapters, and monographs and has supervised the completion of over 25 book length IOM consensus reports and workshop summaries. While at the IOM he has obtained grants and contracts for work conducted by his unit from over 50 governmental and non-governmental sources.
Dr. Kelley obtained his MD from the University of Virginia, his DrPH in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, and his B.S. from Fairfield University. He is also board certified in Preventive Medicine and Public Health.
Deborah G. List, MPH, PhD received her MPH from Harvard School of Public Health and her PhD from Johns Hopkins University, where her research focused on child health policy issues. She also holds an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her undergraduate studies were at Brown University. During graduate school, Dr. List worked at the National Policy Center for Children with Special Health Care Needs, based at Johns Hopkins, where she received a doctoral training fellowship. Dr. List has worked in research and policy settings, including serving as a policy director at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene under Commissioner Thomas Frieden. Her work has focused on vulnerable children and families in a number of settings, particularly on children with special needs, quality of care and advocacy. Dr. List has taught at Johns Hopkins University, Hunter College and University of Connecticut Stamford. She is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor in the College of Health Professions at Sacred Heart University and teachers in both the undergraduate Health Science Program, where she is the coordinator of the public health concentration, and the Master of Physician Assistant Studies. Dr. List has provided consultation on program development, research and evaluation to clients including the Office of the Child Advocate for the State of Connecticut, Connecticut Voices for Children, New York Academy of Medicine, New England SERVE, and Family Voices and was a facilitator for the Parent Leadership Training Institute of the Connecticut Commission on Children. She has also served on the board of directors various community organizations, including Children of Bellevue, supporting the pediatric programs at Bellevue Hospital in NYC and Temple Bnai Chaim in Georgetown CT. Additionally, Dr. List served in the role of parent advisor, appointed by Governor Rell, to the Connecticut Interagency Coordinating Council for the Birth to Three Program. Dr. List is also a long-time consultant and wish granting volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Dr. List’s current program work has focused on the mental health needs of college students. She is married to David Schwartz, a corporate attorney, who is a long-time volunteer Emergency Medical Technician and advocate for summer camp programs for disadvantaged youth and they are the parents of three middle school aged boys and live in Wilton, CT.
Michael Pagano, PhD, PA-C is an Oklahoman transplanted to Connecticut and that geographic diversity is a metaphor for his diverse careers as well. Interdisciplinary and applied approaches to teaching and scholarship mark his professional journey. After serving as an Army corpsman in Vietnam, Michael became a Physician Assistant-Certified (PA-C). He enjoyed the teaching role of being a PA and detoured to graduate school earning an MA in English and a PhD in Communication with a focus on health communication. Over the past 40 years he practiced as a PA-C and combined patient care with his passion for teaching and his interest in exploring health communication from: provider-patient interaction, provider pedagogy, and organizational communication perspectives. Currently, he teaches a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate: health, organizational, and interpersonal communication courses, including interdisciplinary offerings for health professions students (RN, premed, predental, prePA, psychology, etc.). His most unique course has been offered annually for the past 7 years, CO 341 End-of-Life Communication which provides students with an opportunity to spend 20 hours of service learning at the CT Hospice applying their classroom studies vis-à-vis interactions with dying patients and their families. In addition, he has a wide-ranging health and organizational communication research agenda. His unique background has contributed to a breadth of publications including: six books on health communication, and 3 articles co-authored with Dr. Eileen O’Shea, and others, related to the development of a Health Communication Assessment Tool (HCAT) for patient simulation. He has served as the Director of Graduate Studies for the MA in Communication Program, as well as interim Director for the Health Studies Minor and Masters in Public Administration Program.
Reverend Dr. Tomi Thomas, PhD, MSW brings nearly two decades of recognized expertise in Health Research, Community Organization, Disaster Relief Intervention and Administration. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work from the University of Utah (2009), a Master of Social Work from the University of Mumbai (1999), and holds Bachelor Degrees in Theology, Arts, and Philosophy. Rev. Dr. Thomas recently completed a five-year term as Director-General of The Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI), one of the world’s largest NGOs in the health sector. At CHAI, he developed a first-of-its-kind Holistic Palliative Care Center and spearheaded Pratyasha: A National Palliative Care Movement in India. During his tenure, he established educational programs to reposition nun-nurses as community-health enablers, and implemented Telemedicine for Primary Healthcare and Health Promotion across multiple states. He has facilitated and co-authored twenty-five research papers, and presented at international conferences including the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers and Academy for Life at the Vatican. He is currently a member of CHAI’s Technical Resource Group developing capacity building programs for health care workers, and is Parochial Vicar at St. Matthew Church, Norwalk, CT, where he has established a team of pro-bono consultation professionals offering services in the areas of counseling, immigration law and finance.
Rich Umbdenstock, MA ('72) is the President Emeritus of the American Hospital Association. Rich has a masters in health services administration and spent over forty years in the health care field. He has experience in management, governance and public policy. During his nine years at the AHA, he advocated for expanded coverage and access, improved quality and safety, and reform of the delivery and financing systems. Rich now serves on the board of the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care.