Denise O’Connell

Denise joined the board of Life House Atlanta through her friendship with Kathleen Fleiszar. She serves on the Nominating and Fundraising committees and brings almost 30 years of experience in public accounting to guide LHA.

Denise holds a BBA and Masters in Accounting CPA through Kennesaw State University. She is a member of the Georgia Society of CPA’s and AICPA. She is a Partner at Nichols Cauley & Associates, LLC. Her specialties include tax, accounting and general business consulting, and experience in supporting the accounting and advising needs of individuals, sole-proprietors, partnerships, corporations, S Corporations, estates, trusts and non-profits. Denise’s career in public accounting began at age 12, helping with the family business. Following her graduation from college, she accepted a position with a CPA firm and after working for various firms, has been with Nichols Cauley since 2002, advancing through various positions to her current role as partner.

In her volunteer life, Denise serves as the LGE Credit Union Secretary, the Kennesaw State University Accounting School Advisory Board as Vice President, the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants Advisory Council and various committees, and is a member of the North Cobb Civitan Club. In the past, Denise has supported the YWCA of Northwest Georgia (now LiveSafe Resources), MUST Ministries, North Atlanta Chapter GSCPA, Ethics Committee Chair for the GSCPA, the American Cancer Society Pink Ribbon Board, and many more over the years. Denise is devoted to her husband of 33 years, her two adult sons and their families including a granddaughter and enjoys traveling, reading, playing tennis and antiquing. She brings a wealth of experience, both professional and personal, to support Life House Atlanta. “My entire career has been devoted to servicing clients. Serving others is engrained into my daily life. I have been fortunate to work with many wonderful non-profit organizations throughout my life. Through this work, my eyes have been opened to many areas of need that I never realized existed. I have a special place in my heart for those with physical challenges as well as their families. We can change the world by helping one person at a time. Fulfilling the mission of Life House would have a huge impact for many families and individuals.”

Lanise Shortell

Lanise serves on the communications committee of the Life House Atlanta Advisory Council. She brings more than 20 years of experience of working with families locally and around the world to her role.

Lanise is a Registered Nurse, is a Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Pediatric Nurse and also holds Certification in Perinatal Loss Care. She is the Director of the Pediatric Hospice Program at Harbor Grace Hospice in Atlanta. In this role, she does family consults, community education, case management of children at the end of life and bereavement and grief support. She is often asked to speak to groups of medical professionals and care givers on grief and loss, how end-of-life rituals across cultures should be supported and honored, and on how to prioritize self-care in order to continue to support families experiencing loss.

Lanise serves on the Advisory Board of the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation which offers connection and collaboration for researchers, institutions, caregivers and grieving individuals, and facilitates grief education and support around the world. She also educates Pediatric Hospice and Palliative Fellows at Emory University School of Medicine on caring for children outside of hospital walls. Her years of experience in supporting families and their children brings valuable guidance to Life House Atlanta. “I bring medical expertise on symptom management of children at end of life along with grief management tools that enhance the life quality of families experiencing grief and loss.”

Claire Cotton

Claire recently joined the Advisory Council as a member of the communications team focusing on social media after learning about Life House Atlanta through friend connections.

Claire holds a Bachelor of Arts in Medicine, Health and Society from Vanderbilt University. She is a Research Assistant at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the Spectrum for Life Lab, focused on research to optimize outcomes for individuals on the autism spectrum. One project she is currently working on is a framework for evaluating the major theories of autism. In addition, she is a Scribe in the Emergency Department at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville.

Claire is the co-founder of Fuel Our Heroes ATL, whose mission is to help the medical professionals sacrificing everything for our public health by providing them food, fuel and PPE to allow them to fight the battle against COVID-19. She is the Undergraduate Fundraising Board Member of Shade Tree Clinic which provides free health care services for Nashville residents with limited resources. Claire is also a Bedside Volunteer in the Emergency Department at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital. Claire’s professional focus in health care, and her expertise in launching and managing a large, online social platform to connect high school babysitters with families makes her a valuable addition to the LHA team. She was born and raised in Atlanta. “In the Southeast, children with life-limiting illnesses and their families do not have adequate access to services that provide an environment where they can relax and renew as a family. Life House Atlanta will address a major need for this population, and I am honored to spread the word and connect with families who would benefit from this support.”

Carol Shutley

Carol joined the Life House Atlanta team in 2021, and serves on the Communications Committee.

Carol holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Boston College, is Certified in Thanatology through the Association for Death Education and Counseling, and is certified as a Fellow in the American Academy of Grief Counselors. She spent ten years serving in roles with United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta including marketing and communications and co-leading a program to develop year-round relationships with companies. At Northside Hospital, she worked in the H.E.A.R.T.strings Perinatal Bereavement and Perinatal Palliative Care Program as a Perinatal Bereavement Specialist, supporting families and educating staff.

Carol’s volunteer history includes many years of leadership and service in various Parent Teacher Associations.  She was a member of the University of Georgia Parents Leadership Council & Grants Committee, and of the Sandy Springs Society. She and her husband David have three adult children. “Joining the LHA team provides me with the unique opportunity to contribute towards the development of a new organization, and allows me to continue to serve families who are experiencing grief and loss.”

Brenda Marino

Brenda is a neonatologist and has served families in the community, locally and internationally, for many years. She joined the Advisory Council of Life House Atlanta after Kathleen Fleiszar visited her in the NICU several years ago and shared her vision for respite care for Brenda’s patients with disabilities. 

Brenda holds a Bachelor of Science from City College of New York. She received her M.D. from Downstate Medical School of the State University of New York. Following a pediatric residency and chief resident role at the St. Luke’s Hospital branch of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, she then completed a neonatology fellowship at the Medical College of Georgia (now Augusta University). Brenda served as Director of Neonatology at Memorial Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia and then accepted and continues in the role of Director of Neonatology at Kennestone Hospital. She is also on the neonatology staff at Cobb and Douglas hospitals. In addition, Brenda is a clinical instructor at Augusta University and is the co-owner of Marietta Neonatology and Medical Account Management System.

In her volunteer life, Brenda serves on the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church medical mission team, and has supported pediatric missions in Honduras and Guatemala for almost 15 years. She was also a prison ministry volunteer. Brenda is widowed, has four children, and hopes to retire soon. In her service through Life House Atlanta, she says, “I am committed to maximizing all children’s potential and helping parents cope and accept their children’s disabilities and challenges. Life House is one way to provide respite to families who are struggling.”

Bill Coffeen

Bill joined the Advisory Council of Life House Atlanta after being inspired by the vision of Dr. Fleiszar. He has a long history of serving youth populations, and brings valuable expertise in financial planning to the LHA team.

Bill received his B.A. in History from Wittenberg University, followed by an M.S. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Arizona. He holds the designations of Certified Financial Planner (CFP) as well as Certified Senior Advisor (CSA). Bill served in the United States Army as a First Lieutenant, and he was also District Executive with the Boy Scouts of America. His experience also includes roles in Sales and Marketing executive management within the home building industry. He owned and served as an advisor in a financial planning firm, and is now retired.

For over 50 years, Bill has volunteered with the Boy Scouts of America, serving in many capacities including Scoutmaster, Committee Chair, Chartered Organization Representative, to name a few. He is also a member of the board of the Georgia United Methodist Foundation, guiding investments and development strategies. In addition, he chairs the Stewardship and Endowment Committee of Due West United Methodist Church. Bill is also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, where he presently serves as the Chair of the Georgia Society Eagle Scout Recognition Committee. “Having known Dr. Fleiszar for many years, I was both intrigued and inspired by her desire to create a much needed and unique place for children and their families. Fundraising is an essential part of making her dream come true. My experience, coupled with others should enhance our collective ability to reach and sustain financial goals that will support LHA for years to come.”

Ellen Shaw

Ellen joined the team at Life House Atlanta in the earliest stages of it’s development. She joined the board in 2021 and currently serves as Secretary.

Ellen attended Illinois State University, and has extensive experience in various roles in the non-profit service sector. Ellen started her career over 25 years ago as a Special Events/Programs Director in a suburb of Chicago, later transitioning to serve in the senior care industry as a Life Enrichment Director for Assisted and Memory Care communities. In this role, she creates comprehensive programming through wellness and fitness, and integrates these along with social and customized programs to our senior population. In addition, she manages all of the volunteers and interns. Ellen also serves with The Fairy Godmother Project providing prom dresses and a day of pampering for those girls needing some extra TLC, and with Waymark, an organization serving children in foster care, providing support to staff throughout the day and lending a hand with all special events and crafts. And, she has been a hospice volunteer for over five years.

Ellen is originally from Chicago, and lives in Acworth with her husband, three sons and their dog Ditka. “Being a part of an incredible dream to bring LHA to those families in need is an honor to serve.”

Ward Sullivan

Life House Atlanta welcomed Ward to the board in 2021. He was a colleague of Dr. Fleiszar at Kennesaw State University, and has a wide breadth of experience to contribute to building LHA.

Ward received a B.S. in Anthropology from Troy University, followed by his Juris Doctor from Faulkner University. He is a member of the Alabama State Bar and the Georgia Planned Giving Council. He is currently the Director of Planned Giving at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He previously held the role of Director of Planned Giving at Kennesaw State University, where he provided leadership and management of the gift and estate planning program within the Division of University Advancement. He previously served two stints with the Southern Poverty Law Center for a total of about 10 years. In addition, his work experience includes roles at Nova Southeastern University, Troy University, Legal Services Alabama and the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office.

In his volunteer life, Ward serves as a member of the National World War I Museum and Memorial’s Pershing Legacy Society, dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community. In addition, Ward is on the Board of Directors of the Wildlife Aviation Group which is working to become the world’s leading provider of aerial conservation services while taking direct responsibility to help defend endangered wildlife and ecosystems. Upon joining the Board of Life House Atlanta, Ward stated, “I have a strong desire to serve in a role that will help families and children who need the critical services that a respite care and palliative care program will provide. I want to share my experience and expertise in nonprofit development and in the legal field to help Life House Atlanta grow and prosper.”

Mary Cota Reed

Mary joined the board of Life House Atlanta in 2021. She came across LHA while searching for online resources for her daughter, Catherine. Catherine is medically complex, and Mary and her family, which includes Catherine’s two older siblings and her husband, know that LHA will be able to provide them with the respite support they need.

Mary received her B.A. from Emory University. Her professional expertise in information technology and data analysis included roles at The Shepherd Center, 11-Alive News, and as a consultant at Accenture. She currently works in a part-time capacity doing medical billing for Reed Imaging Services, a family business, while caring full-time for Catherine.

Mary’s volunteer experience shows a long history of support for youth programs and for special needs. She served as President of the Georgia Chapter of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf, and later on the Georgia Commission for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing. She was an active participant on the Commission’s Funding and Policy subcommittee for Georgia Pathway to Language and Literacy. She has also served as a Youth Soccer Coach, as co-leader and treasurer of Girl Scout Troop 10536, co-president of the Atlanta Speech School PTC and has been a Silver Member of the Junior League of Atlanta. Now, as a member of the Life House Atlanta Board, Mary is ready to devote herself to it with a passion she has never experienced before. “LHA’s Board of Directors recognizes the urgent need for a respite house for children with life-limiting illness, and are united in determination to see LHA become a reality. I am incredibly honored to be among this group of inspiring and selfless people, and am prepared to do anything to help get LHA off the ground, including walking over hot coals with bare feet. The day LHA opens will be one of the happiest days of my life.”


Tony Rogowski

Tony Rogowski

Tony, along with Fred Gabourie and Kathleen Fleiszar, is a founder of Life House Atlanta. He currently leads the organization as board chair, and is a key player in community networking.

Tony earned his undergraduate degree in accounting from Quinnipiac College, his Juris Doctor from Syracuse University School of Law and he is also a CPA. He served as an Attorney in both New York and Washington D.C.  Since 1983, he has worked in tax, commercial real estate finance and development for firms including Arthur Andersen and KPMG, John Portman & Associates, Carter & Associates and JMG Realty. In 2000, Tony became the owner of Crown South Realty specializing in multifamily and condominium development and management.

As father of 5 children, 4 of whom have juvenile diabetes, he served on the Board of Directors of the Atlanta Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Tony has also been a frequent speaker at JDRF fundraisers across the nation raising more than $5.5 million for the cause. One to always serve his community, Tony has been on the Board of Directors for East Marietta Little League, East Cobb Basketball and was the founder of East Cobb Challenger Baseball for physically and mentally disabled children. With this service record, it is not surprising that he received the volunteer of the year award from the Retarded Citizens of Atlanta organization. Tony has also been a hospice volunteer and was responsible for obtaining the 501c3 status for Life House Atlanta. 

Tony’s experience as a parent of children with specialized medical needs, combined with his years invested in supporting children who live with physical and mental challenges, brings deep personal understanding of the important role that Life House Atlanta will play in offering families a place for respite and loving care for their children. “I have long held a special place in my heart for children with special needs. I have devoted much of my adult volunteer efforts to them. Life House Atlanta is the next, special chapter of my volunteer life.”