Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance Board Members


Christopher Cusano – Board President


Chris is a nine-year survivor of a benign brain tumor, a central neurocytoma, diagnosed in June 2008 after his first year of law school. He has successfully undergone five open brain surgeries and one stereotactic radiosurgery procedure and recently received a clean bill of health from his medical staff.

Chris has taken the challenges he faced and turned them into a positive. After seventeen years at a law firm, he realized his passion was helping those in need and being an advocate for brain tumor research. Wanting to make a difference and be a part of the brain tumor community, Chris first came to the CTBTA as a volunteer for the first Path of Hope in 2014. Over the years, he has been a strong voice on the board advocating for benign brain tumor research and was instrumental in helping the CTBTA form the Gray Ribbon Club, a support group for patients and caregivers.  Also in 2014, he and his brother organized the first annual Playing for the Cure: Brainstormin', a give back music festival to benefit brain tumor research being conducted at the Yale Brain Tumor Center. As a result of the event and through collaborative efforts with the Yale Brain Tumor Center, the Cusano Family Fund for Neuro-Oncology has been established to assist doctors and researchers in their quest to ultimately find the cure to brain tumors and brain cancer.

Today, Chris works in development for the United Way as a Partnership Manager where he develops and implements fundraising strategies with various workplaces. He lives in West Hartford with his wife Ashley and their dog Coddington.

Jennifer Pace — Vice President

jen.jpegJen was diagnosed in February 2006 with an anaplastic astrocytoma brain tumor. After receiving surgery, radiation and chemotherapy she became one of the founding members of the CTBTA. She is committed to raising awareness about brain tumors and brain cancer, as well as raising money for research. Prior to her brain cancer diagnosis, Jennifer worked as a marketing director in New York City's fashion industry. After moving to Connecticut to begin raising her family, she has held a variety of part-time positions with WFSB's Channel 3. Her most important role is that of wife to her husband Andy and mother to her two young children, Luke and Cate.

Andy Pace — Treasurer

andy.jpegAndy's wife Jennifer was diagnosed with an anaplastic astrocytoma in February 2006. As Jen's primary caregiver during her recovery from surgery and subsequent radiation and chemotherapy treatments, Andy understands the importance of the caregiver role and the support that is critical to ensuring a patient's successful recovery from a tumor diagnosis. Andy and Jen are the proud parents of two children, Luke and Cate. A Hartford native and a graduate of the University of Connecticut and RPI, Andy is currently a Managing Director and Senior Portfolio Manager at Conning Asset Management in Hartford.

Kim Hodnett — Secretary

kim.jpegKim's mom, Sue Heath, was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme IV in December 2003. Together with her sister Stacey, father and brother in-law Ron, they were blessed to be primary caregivers throughout Sue's courageous 11-month battle with brain cancer that took her far too soon in October 2004. As a founding member of the CTBTA, Kim hopes to raise awareness and much needed funding for brain tumor research. She earned a B.S. in Marketing and has held various marketing and analysis positions, including over six years experience in the medical communications industry. Kim currently lives in Glastonbury.

Gregory Shimer — Co-Secretary

greg.jpegGreg's wife, Tracey Gamer-Fanning, was diagnosed with a primary Brain Tumor in September of 2006. He has been her primary caregiver since then, raising five children and several animals at the same time. He has been a Corporate Accounts Manager at Staples Copy & Print, since the Spring of 2011. He is a Past-President of Rotary International, former Chairperson of the Brooklyn Economic Development Commission, former board member of the Northeast Economic Alliance, and an adjunct member of the Quiet Corner Democrats. He received a B.S. in Political Science, with a minor in Philosophy from Eastern Connecticut State University. His spare time, a sparse reality, is spent with his kids, traveling, cooking, visiting farmers markets with his wife, reading, working around the house and more.

Tracey Gamer-Fanning — President Emeritus

tracey.jpeg"Every day I truly believe that I'm the luckiest woman alive!" says CTBTA President Emeritus and Co-Founder Tracey Gamer Fanning. After being diagnosed with a Malignant Brain Tumor in 2006, Tracey was told she had a 3-5 year life expectancy. All Tracey heard that day was that she could expect more life! Persevering through seizures, surgery, paralysis and brain radiation, she continues to live, thrive and strive to give hope to others living with Brain Cancer. In her pre Brain Tumor life, she had a very successful career in Advertising and Marketing. Now, a 10+ year survivor, Tracey and her Brady Bunch family of seven live in West Hartford, CT.

Tracey is also a current member of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Oncology Board, installed as their Patient Advocate in 2016.  She continues her work on a national scale now fighting for quality of life for all cancer patients.  She was recently featured on WNPR's "Words to Give By."  She founded MMJ Partners, LLC in 2015 as well. 

Stacey Mairano — Director

stacey.jpegStacey was a primary caregiver to her mom, Sue Heath, from December 2003-October 2004. Stacey's untiring strength, care and compassion throughout her mom's illness parlayed into her desire to help others dealing with brain cancer. Her work through the CTBTA helps mollify the effects this disease has on patients and caregivers alike. Prior to staying home to raise her 4 children, Stacey received her B.S. from Central Connecticut State University and worked for 10 years in specialty insurance marketing.


Susan Lemkuil — Director

susan.jpegSusan is an owner of Shimkus, Murphy & Lemkuil, Inc. - a real estate insurance firm in Hartford, CT. She was diagnosed in February 2007 with an Oligodendroglioma. She underwent two successful brain surgeries, one at St. Francis and the other at Yale. Susan received her B.A. from Boston College and her Master's from St. Joseph College. She is married with 3 children.



David Lemkuil — Director

dave.jpegDavid is the husband of Susan Lemkuil and was a primary caretaker following her successful brain surgery procedures. He is an owner at Shimkus, Murphy & Lemkuil, Inc. and remains very active in the community. David is involved with West Hartford Rotary and Catholic Charities and serves as Chairman of the Salvation Army board, just to name a few. However, the CTBTA is his passion. He enjoys spending his free time with his family and coaching his children's various sports teams. David holds a B.S from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.


Executive Director

Kimberly Roy-Canning — Executive Director

kimc.jpgKimberly has lost both friends and family to brain cancer and is committed to improving the lives of those affected by brain tumors.

She and her mother, Joyce, lovingly cared for her father, Alan, during his nine-month journey following his 2009 diagnosis with a grade IV Glioblastoma brain tumor. She is inspired every day by the bravery and kindness of those who are living their lives with a brain tumor and by the family and friends who love them. She pledges to honor the memory of those who give us the reason for standing together in this alliance of hope — most especially, her father. "My father did not lose his battle with a brain tumor. He simply handed me the torch to continue his fight for him."

Kimberly earned a B.A. in political science with honors and a minor in French from The American University and her J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She is also the Managing Director of Parallel Lines Productions LLC, where she serves as legal counsel and has produced and developed the new theatrical works, PROMISE and THE GRAND DESIGN, working with various Broadway veterans.

Directors Emeritus

The CTBTA extends its sincere gratitude to two of our original Directors, Terry Gamer and Ron Mairano, for their efforts in starting this organization and years of service as Board Members, and to Maria Grove who served for several years as Board President.

Terry Gamer

Terry, together with her daughter, Tracey, worked tirelessly to help launch the CTBTA. A life-long entrepreneur with experience in the newspaper and golf industries, Terry will continue to assist the Board by attracting some of the country's most prestigious golf courses for the CTBTA Golf Tournament Live Auction and creating high-profile events to benefit the CTBTA. Terry resides in West Hartford, CT, and has "two wonderful daughters and five sensational grandchildren."

Ron Mairano

Ron lost his mother-in-law Sue Heath to a Glioblastoma Mutliforme in 2004 and helped form the CTBTA as a way to support others affected by this terrible disease. He has held various executive positions in the insurance industry during the last 25 years, is currently a founding partner at Paragon Insurance Holdings LLC, and will continue to be a valued supporter of the CTBTA.

Maria Grove

Maria Grove lost her mother Katherine Wichlac to a Glioblastoma tumor on February 22, 2012. She had been the primary caretaker of her mother during her very brief battle with cancer. Maria has become very committed to raising awareness of brain tumors and raising funds for research and support.

Former Board Members

The CTBTA thanks the following Board Members for their dedicated service:

  • Kelly Rutherford
  • Kimberly Porter Dowie

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