Below are some bios from our volunteers so you can learn more about what makes the Connecticut Nurses Honor Guard amazing. If you would like to join and become a volunteer, click the "Become A Volunteer" button

Maria Cusano-Sanzo

Maria is a retired nurse of 38 years with a specialty in Pediatric Rheumatology. A little known fact about Maria is that she was born in Montreal, Canada. Her hobbies are sewing, quilting, crocheting, cruising, reading, and playing with her granddaughters! Maria enjoys being a part of the CT Nurses Honor Guard because "it allows us to validate nurses' sacrifices during their careers. I think it also comforts the family; they are so appreciative.

Athena Mains

Athena is a nurse of 29 years with a specialty in pediatric and adult emergency, maternal child care, nursing education and instructional design. Her hobbies include paper crafting, scrapbooking, and hiking. Athena wrote a picture book about a little girl and her grandmother who has Alzheimer’s, but has yet to submit it for publishing. Athena enjoys being a part of the CT Nurses Honor Guard because “I understand what sacrifices nurses and their families experience over the years and my hope is that this is a comfort to them.”

Karen Owen

Karen is currently a school nurse; she's been a nurse for more than 40 years with a specialty in Pediatrics and School Nursing. A little known fact about Karen is she is the oldest of nine! Her hobbies are Pickleball, platform tennis, hiking and being a dog mom, Ami, to my 2 yr old grandson, as well as gardening, reading, and wine (whine) with friends.

Michele Backus

Michele is currently a per-diem nurse who has been a nurse for 42 years with a specialty in Critical Care, ED, Nursing Staff Development, Hospice and Palliative Care, and Case Management. A little known fact about Michele is that she has wanted to be a nurse since she was 12. Michele enjoys being a part of the CT Nurses Honor Guard because "nursing has been a great profession. It has touched my life personally, professionally, and spiritually. In addition, being a member of the CT Nurses Honor Guard allows me to give back to other nurses who have given so much of themselves."

Tammy Petersen

Tammy has been a nurse for over 14 years currently specializing in Wound, Ostomy and Continence care in acute care settings as well as providing outpatient support for ostomy patients. She was born in Maine, grew up in Naugatuck, and made Oxford her home 30 years ago. Tammy loves spending time with her family and friends and is always looking for ways to help others. Tammy volunteers for the CT Nurse Honor Guard because it's very fulfilling. "With every tribute, we see how appreciative and touched everyone is. And there are so many ways we can help the group beyond attending the tributes. Many hands make for light work."

Donna Kosiorowski

Donna is a retired nurse of 52 years and specialized in in Pediatrics/ School Health. A little know fact about Donna is that she has a grandson who is a 4 legged Shichon (mix of Bichon and Shitzu) named Trooper. Donna enjoys traveling, walking and sewing. When Donna joined the CT Nurses Honor Guard, she was proud of the opportunity to recognize nurses in such a moving way. "Now I am privileged to know my Honor Guard family, a wonderful and diverse group of nurses honoring the profession and fellow nurses."

Meghan Brennan

Meghan has been a nurse for over 15 years currently specializing in Oncology. A little know fact about Meghan is that she has collected over a hundred pounds of sea glass. When not at work, Meghan is usually doing something outdoors: beach combing, kayaking, hiking, or fishing. She also likes checking out local breweries and craft beers. When Meghan joined the CT Nurses Honor Guard, she enjoyed meeting and networking with amazing nurses. "Funerals and memorial services are indeed depressing and sad but the feeling I get from attending the services of our fallen colleagues and the appreciation extended from the families is something that I cannot put into words. It is very rewarding and fulfilling."

Theresa Hudak

Theresa is a retired nurse after 45yrs of working in various departments: hemodialysis, recovery room, med/surg float nurse, telemetry, ICU and CCU. She also trained with a select number of nurses and techs traveling to Ohio's Cleveland Clinic to care for the first open-heart patients, the highlight of her career,.Her hobbies include gardening,, reading, baking, teaching Sunday school , sewing and mission work. She loves to stay active by walking, practicing yoga, pilates and swimming with my husband of 49years. "I find it an honor and so fitting to participate in something I have loved all my life, nursing."

Susan M. Duclos

Susan has been a nurse for 40 years with Emergency Medicine being her primary career. She has worked in CCU, IR, PACU, Special Care Pediatrics and ED Psych. She currently works as a Nurse Consultant. A little known fact about her is that she is a Nightingale Award winner. "I love the Honor Guard because nursing is a calling. It is a privilege to honor our colleagues."

Cathy Kralik

Cathy has been a nurse for over 33 years. She currently works for HHCMG Access Center as a triage nurse but her love is pediatrics: home care, school nursing, special needs and NICU. She's wanted to be a "kid nurse" since she was five! She is the proud mother of five. She's always had a calling for bereavement and the loss of her oldest at the age of 3 1/2 in a car accident strengthened that calling immensely. She enjoys being part of the NHG to "help recognize all nurses for their service and dedication, but also to bring some empathy in the family's dark days."

Maureen Boylan Elman

Maureen currently works both in St. Raphael's Surgical ICU and as a professor at Quinnipiac University. Her specialties include critical care and education. A little known fact about her is that she and her husband, Peter, have two rescues: Adria & Sammy as well as 3 grown children and a granddaughter. She enjoys travelling, golf, their dogs, but best of all, time with her family and friends. "As nurses we often have spent more hours of our lives caring for patients and families than we have with our loved ones. I feel this should be recognized at a nurse’s end of life. I truly enjoy giving back to our profession during this time. I see how a nurse’s family and friends appreciate that the CT Nurse Honor Guard recognizes the sacrifice that their loved one has made in caring for others. I feel truly honored to be a member of the Honor Guard."

Shelley Bayer

Shelley has been a nurse for 32 years starting out as an ICU nurse but realized her passion was L and D and has been in that specialty for 27 years. She loves her mommas! She currently works at Yale in New Haven, CT and also worked at St. Raphaels for 28 years. She os certified in fetal monitoring and inpatient obstetrics, and is a fetal monitoring instructor for AWHONN. She is married and she and her husband have 2 adult children and a 3-year-old St. Bernard named Angus. She was born in Nova Scotia and is still a Canadian citizen. When she's not working, she quilts, hikes, kayaks, browses thrift shops and plays pickleball. "I joined the Guard because nurses deserve to be respected and appreciated for the work they do, even when they can no longer work. It is a privilege to pay tribute to my fallen colleagues, and reassure those gathered for the memorial service that the nurse's work was essential."

Michelle Carrara, BSN, RN

Michelle has been a nurse for 36 years and counting. Currently she works full time in a Urology Office located inside the hospital. She is also an American Heart Association Instructor of CPR and First Aid. Little known facts about Michelle are that she owns a small business, she and her son share a birthday and she just took a flight with her 19 year old nephew as the pilot! Michelle is excited to have become a member of the Honor Guard.

Mary James

Mary is a retired nurse of 47 years with a specialty in Labor & Delivery, Psych & Substance Abuse. Her hobbies are sewing, upcycling, camping, bluegrass music festivals, and reading. Mary enjoys being a part of the CT Nurses Honor Guard because she believes all nurses' sacrifices and heroics should be celebrated and honored in their deaths like other heroic professions are.

Amy Albright

Amy has been a nurse for 21 years currently working as a Pediatric Nurse Consultant.
A little known fact about her is that she learned to ski at 25! Her hobbies include camping, reading, travelling and hanging out with friends & family. "I enjoy the CT NHG because of the families we serve and the wonderful nurses I serve with."

Danielle Nolan

Danielle has been a nurse for 29 years, most recently in the OR for the last nine years. A little known fact about Danielle is that she lived in England until she was ten and had a British accent! She enjoys Peloton, jogging, reading and watching her kids play hockey. "I enjoy CT NHG because it is a beautiful way to honor the lives of my fellow brothers and sisters."

Karen Stavris

Karen has been a nurse for 40 years specializing in Oncology and Research. A little known fact about Karen is that she's been with her husband since she was 14 years old! Her hobby is travelling! She enjoys being part of the Honor Guard because "it gives me great joy to be part of a group with such altruistic and heartfelt intentions and to honor fallen nurses."

Julia MacMillan

Julia is a retired nurse who still works prn. Her 49 year career was dedicated to palliative care and hospice. Her hobbies include gardening and enjoying her grandchildren. She enjoys being part of the Honor Guard because it allows her "to carry on the compassion and empathy nurses have provided up to the very end."

Georgianna Hull

Georgianna is retired with a 50 year career in Critical Care, Case Management and Clinical Bed Management. Not many people know that Georgianna was a Captain in the US Army Reserves, 405th Combat Support Hospital for 7 years! Her hobbies include volunteering and she enjoys being a part of the Honor Guard because "it is a privilege and honor to pay tribute to our colleagues with an amazing group of women who are members of this group."

Sara Johnson

Sara is a practicing nurse with 41 years experience in the ED, ICU and education. A little known fact about her is that she once taught CPR to parents of an infant who then went on to save the life of their baby performing CPR I taught them. She enjoys knitting and enjoys being part of the Honor Guard because "I am honored to have the opportunity to pay tribute to colleagues who have passed away or are terminal. My prayer is that it brings the families comfort. And for me, it brings a sense of comfort that I have the ability to assure, in a small way, that lives of nurses do not go unnoticed."

Sue Polaski

Sue has been a nurse for 46 years and is "mostly retired" and works when she wants to! Her specialties include the ICU, CCRN and Administrative Coordinator. A little known fact about Sue is "when I went back to ICU as a per diem, I would be excited that I only had 2 patients to worry about, instead of supervising the whole place on my regular shifts ." Her hobbies include traveling, needlepoint, workouts, visiting family & friends and lunching with my retired friends. "I enjoy being part of CT NHG because I love honoring the lives of nurses for their lifelong dedication in such a beautiful ceremony."

Melissa Calkins

Melissa has been a nurse for 27 years, specializing in dialysis, hospice and cardiology. A little known fact about her is that she loved doing sprint triathlons, however knee and back arthritis ended that adventure. Her hobbies include genealogy, gardening, hanging with her boys and new adventures with Becki. She enjoys being part of the Honor Guard because "I look forward to being a part of this amazing group and attending tributes. I see the wonderful things fire and police departments do to honor their dead and dying. Standing vigil and all we see during the funeral, I thought 'Why can't nurses do that?'"

Beth Boyd

Beth is a full time faculty at SUNY Delhi with specialties in education, leadership and critical care. A little known fact about her is that she enjoys time with family and friends and romance novels. Her hobbies include walking on the beach, finding shells, yoga and reading. Dr. Boyd has received the Jane E. Murdock CT Life-Long Learning Excellence in Nursing Award and the Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing. She enjoys being part of the Honor Guard because it "is a wonderful group of colleagues. The CT NHG represents caring, compassion and respect to the members of the nursing profession."

Shelly Millane

Shelly is a retired nurse whose specialties were the Emergency Department, Hospice/VNA Case Coordinator and she also spent some time abroad at the US Army Field Hospital in Vicenza, Italy. A little known fact about her is that she holds an EU passport issued by Ireland! She is a permanent Mexican resident (equivalent to a US green card!). Her hobby is gardening and she enjoys being part of the NHG because "it is an honor to recognize a fallen colleague in such a meaningful way that provides comfort and solace to their family and friends."

Renee Sheckfee

Renee is a practicing nurse who specializes in med/surg telemetry, crisis ER and mental health. A little known fact about her is that she is a retired SVU detective! Her hobbies include live music, family, travel and arts and crafts. She enjoys being part of the Honor Guard "to honor and show respect to nurses who followed the calling to care for the sick."