Meet Our Team

Medical Team

Dr. Mark P. Leondires
Medical Director

Dr. Mark P. Leondires, Medical Director and lead infertility doctor with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMA of CT), is board-certified in both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.

The team at RMA of CT works closely with patients and the leading surrogacy agencies to help LGBT persons build families. This process begins by educating patients about the different options available to start or grow their families. This includes egg donation with gestational carriers (surrogacy) for gay men, and sperm donation and in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI) for lesbian women. RMA of CT works with each patient to ensure they are informed and educated each step of the way.

“I understand that there are many different pathways to parenthood,” says Dr. Leondires. “My own journey took time to develop as it was a delicate balance between my professional and personal life. As any LGBT person knows we always have concerns about acceptance. Legally married in the state of Connecticut to my husband and going through the process of choosing an egg donor, working with a wonderful gestational carrier and having my son has dramatically changed my life and my perspective on family building. It has definitely enhanced the way I treat all my patients, especially my LGBT patients, as I feel strongly that if one desires to have a family the hurdles are surmountable and the joys, boundless. I am proud to help others achieve their family building dreams.

Dr. Leondires was recently selected for Best Doctors in America, as chosen through a physician peer-review process. Best Doctors in America 2011-2012 represents the top five percent of physicians across the country.  He was also voted Top Doc 2016 by a peer-selected award by Castle Connolly.

Along with numerous teaching and research activities, he has published numerous articles in professional medical journals, as well as abstracts, articles and book chapters. His research interests include IVF, Comprehensive Chromosome Screening (CCS), egg donation, elective single embryo transfer (eSET) and reduction in higher-order multiple gestations.

Prior to joining RMA of CT, Dr. Leondires served as the Director of Assisted Reproductive Technologies at the Combined Federal Program for Reproductive Endocrinology. While under his direction, the ART Program was one of the most successful in the Washington DC area and in the top tenth percentile nationally. During this time he was an Assistant Professor at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and clinical faculty for the Combined Fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology. His professional society memberships include the Society of Reproductive Endocrinologists, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Dr. Leondires received his undergraduate degree in biochemistry and history from Colby College in Waterville, Maine. He earned his medical degree from the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington, Vermont. He completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine, which was followed by a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. After completion of his training, he fulfilled his military obligation by serving as the ART Director for the largest and most successful program in the military health care system at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Dr. Spencer Richlin
Surgical Director

Dr. Spencer Richlin is Surgical Director and a Partner in reproductive endocrinology at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut (RMACT). In addition, he is Division Chief of Reproductive Endocrinology at Norwalk Hospital. Dr. Richlin is Board Certified in both Reproductive Endocrinology and Obstetrics / Gynecology.

Dr. Richlin has been with RMACT since 2004. Before this, he served on the faculty of Loma Linda University School of Medicine, in California, as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics. He is a member of both the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Dr. Richlin has published numerous abstracts, articles and book chapters, and is the lead author of the IVF section in Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology, 9th Edition. He coauthored with Dr. Leondires the “Infertility” chapter in the text “Avoiding Common Errors in Obstetrics and Gynecology. This text was released in 2011.

Dr. Richlin received his undergraduate degree in psychology from The University of California at Berkeley and his medical degree from the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine. He completed two internships, in Emergency Medicine and Obstetrics. Dr. Richlin served his residency at The Stamford Hospital in Stamford Connecticut from 1995-1999, where he was named Berlex Best Teaching Resident. He then completed his subspecialty fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and fertility at Emory University’s School of Medicine in Georgia.

Dr. Richlin is a 2015 Top Doc, a peer-selected award by Castle Connolly.  And also a 2011 US News Top Doctor and a Castle Connolly 2011 New York Metro Top Doctor. In addition, he was voted by his peers as one of the 2013 Castle Connolly Top Doctors in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility in Fairfield County.Dr. Richlin is a writing member of The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology PROLOG Seventh Edition for Reproductive Endocrinology And Infertility. The group has been meeting in Washington D.C. over the last year. The release will be in 2014. PROLOG is a personal study resource for the practicing obstetrician-gynecologist. It is used as a study tool, reference guide and a way of obtaining up-to-date information in the specialty of reproductive medicine. Contact us to book an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist Dr. Spencer Richlin in Connecticut, or New York.

Dr. Cynthia Murdock
Reproductive Endocrinologist

Dr. Cynthia Murdock is a staff physician and a fertility specialist in Reproductive Medicine at RMA. She is board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Dr. Murdock earned a BA in biology from Cornell University and an MD from Creighton University School of Medicine where she graduated magna cum laude. She completed her residency at Creighton University Medical Center where she was named Berlex Best Teaching Resident.

In 2003 she completed a fellowship in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the National Institutes of Health. An experienced researcher, Dr. Murdock has contributed to numerous peer-reviewed studies and presented at several of the most prestigious conferences in the field of reproductive medicine. The focus of much of her research has been on estrogen receptors, hypothalamic neuron function, and precocious puberty.

Dr. Murdock is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, as well as a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Murdock was previously an assistant clinical professor at Creighton University School of Medicine and a staff physician with Reproductive Health Specialists at Nebraska Methodist Hospital. She has also served as an Assistant Professor of OB-GYN at the National Naval Medical Center and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Diana D’ Amelio
Physician Assistant

Our resident physician assistant, Diana D’Amelio, RPA, serves multiple functions at the Norwalk and Danbury offices of Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut. As a clinician, she sees patients and performs physicals and procedures like endometrial biopsies, ultrasounds, and saline sonograms. She also oversees the third party reproduction program, which includes donor eggs, gestational carriers, and intended parents. Finally, she is the team leader in the Danbury office. Diana received her undergraduate degree in biology from Cornell University and completed the Surgeon’s Assistant Program at Cornell University Medical College. She has practiced in the field of infertility since 1993.

Support Team

Building a family with the help of sperm donor, egg donor, and/or surrogate can be challenging. We’re here to help.

Counseling

Among the services GayParentsToBe provides are psychological support, screening and counseling services for intended parents and gestational carriers. Our counseling team conducts psychological evaluations to screen gestational carriers, solo moms and solo dads by choice, as well as same-sex couples.

In providing counseling and psychological support, Dr. Andrea Braverman, Ph.D. talks with individuals and couples about the complex issues that go along with building your family through third party reproduction, such as selecting a donor and its myriad associated issues, from character to interests to level of contact.

Also, for intended parents, our team helps parents-to-be to navigate decisions related to communication with their surrogate, including building open communication and a mutually respectful relationship.

Andrea Braverman, PHD
Program Director

As a health psychologist, Dr. Braverman specializes in infertility counseling, third party reproduction issues, health management and diabetes care. She consults for many leading assisted reproductive technology programs and endocrinologists and has maintained her own private practice for over twenty years.

From 2005 through 2010, Dr. Braverman served as Director of Complementary and Alternative Medicine at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey and, prior to that, she spent 15 years as Director of Psychological Services at Pennsylvania Reproductive Associates/Women’s Institute for Fertility, Endocrinology, and Menopause. She earned her M.A., M.S., and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where she completed her dissertation on public attitudes towards donor insemination.

Dr. Braverman’s research and publications have focused on the psychological aspects of infertility, attitudes of parents of children born with the use of ART, issues involved in the decision to end treatment, and psychological issues involved in using third-party donors.  She has received the Ian Johnston Memorial Award from the Fertility Society of Australia, the Family Building Award from The American Fertility Association, and the Timothy Jeffrey Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Clinical Health Psychology from the American Psychological Association Division of Health Psychology. Dr. Braverman has served on the board of the American Fertility Association and has been active with RESOLVE.

“Helping people realize their dreams of parenthood has been my career and passion since the 1980s. Everyone deserves the chance to make their dreams come true.  It is my honor and privilege to help people navigate that journey.”

Lisa Schuman
Psychotherapist

Lisa Schuman, LCSW is a psychotherapist who has been counseling individuals, couples and groups on a variety of issues and has specialized in reproductive medicine for over a decade. Ms. Schuman helps individuals through family building processes such as IUI and IVF, ovum and sperm donation, perinatal loss, single parent issues, gay and lesbian issues, oocyte cryopreservation, surrogacy, and adoption. She leads two Drop-In Support Groups, one focused on infertility treatment concerns and the other focused on third party reproduction, for both ovum donation and sperm donation recipients. She is also founding director of Adoption Cooperative Consultants, an adoption consulting group. Ms. Schuman is a frequent speaker and consultant for seminars, symposiums, and TV programs.

Melissa Kelleher, LCSW
Fertility Counselor

Melissa works with couples and individuals during their fertility journey, helping them handle loss and disappointments, as well as giving them the tools to make decisions related to their fertility challenges. Melissa will be onsite at the Norwalk, Danbury, and Trumbull offices; she is available for appointments or spontaneous meetings, schedule permitting.

 

 

Jamie Speer, MS
Genetic Counselor

James Speer, M.S., a certified genetic counselor, has over 10 years of experience in the fertility field. As the medical field’s understanding of genetic conditions expands and testing becomes more comprehensive, there is a growing need from fertility patients to work with a specialist to understand and consider their options.

As a genetic counselor, Speer’s role is to obtain detailed health and family histories, identify conditions with genetic components and risk factors, discuss inheritance patterns, and provide information regarding genetic testing options. Once test results are attained, he will empower patients with non-directive counsel and provide support as they make their decisions. Many of the fertility patients he works with will have donor sperm or donor oocytes as part of their fertility treatment.  It is important to understand the genetics of the donor as well as the intended parents to fully understand any inheritance risk factors.

Speer earned his Bachelor of Science in Medical Cytogenetic Technology from the University of Connecticut School of Allied Health Professions and then went on to earn his Master of Science in Human Genetics from Sarah Lawrence College. His career started as a lab technician conducting genetic research and testing. In addition to working with patients for more than 20 years, Speer has been a professor and was the Associate Director of the Joan H. Marks Graduate Program In Human Genetics at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. Outside of the office, Speer keeps busy as a father of four children.

Clinical

Nora Bolger, RN ManagerNora Bolger, RN, BSN, MA
Third Party Reproduction Program Manager

Nora Bolger is nurse manager of the Third Party Reproduction program at RMACT. She began her specialty in reproductive endocrinology at RMA of NY in 2004. Her hospital experience was obtained at NYU Medical Center and Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn where she worked in the newborn nursery and provided postpartum care and lactation teaching.

Nora’s areas of clinical interest are women’s health, integrative and Chinese medicine. She received her BA and a Masters in Health Advocacy from Sarah Lawrence College. She received her BSN from the College of New Rochelle, where she was a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the nursing honor society.

Erica Paganetti - Labratory ManagerErica Paganetti
Senior Embryologist and IVF Laboratory Supervisor

Erica graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor’s of Science in biology from Springfield College in Springfield, MA. Shortly after graduation, she began working for RMA-CT as an embryologist. Just over a decade later, she has gained skill and knowledge in the newest scientific techniques, enabling her to be a part of the team that provides excellent care to our patients. While working at RMA-CT, she completed a Master’s degree in Clinical Embryology and Andrology from the Jones’ Institute at Eastern Virginia Medical School and graduated at the top of her class in 2017. She has a special interest in and passion for cryopreservation. She personally helped to build RMACT’s highly successful vitrification program that began in 2009.

Erica was born and raised in Connecticut. She is the proud mom of two awesome little boys and has the support of an amazing husband. Her beautiful family is what motivates her to help others build a family of their own.

Rachel Leto - RN - Thrid Party ReproductionRachel Leto
RN – Third Party Reproduction

Rachel Leto is a Registered Nurse and the Team Lead for the Third-Party Reproduction Program at RMACT. Rachel first joined RMACT as a patient coordinator in 2008. Throughout her time in this role, Rachel attended St. Vincent’s nursing school and obtained her licensure in 2012. Due to her interest in fertility, Rachel remained at RMACT and transitioned from her role as patient coordinator to IVF nurse. In 2013, Rachel joined the RMACT Third-Party nursing staff due to her passion for helping couples in need of donors (both egg and sperm) as well as gestational carriers. In her current role, Rachel is involved in all aspects of the Third-Party process and has extensive knowledge with the processes involved in selecting an egg donor and gestational carrier as well as the medical aspect that is involved in both types of cycles.

Rachel was born and raised in Connecticut, where she currently resides. She is a wife and mom to two beautiful girls and two fur babies- Molly and Tully. Rachel enjoys spending her free time with her family and friends, running 5ks, spending as much time outside as possible and reading for fun! She is proud to be a part of the Gay Parents to Be program at RMACT.

Administrative

Third Party Financial Coordinator | Beatrice AbshireBeatrice Abshire
Third Party Patient Navigator, Third Party Program

Beatrice Abshire has been a member of the Gay Parents To Be Team at RMA of Connecticut for 3 years and has recently transitioned into her role as the Administrative Supervisor for the program. She has 20 years of experience working in the fields of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Medicine.  Previously she has worked for the Labor and Delivery Department at Norwalk Hospital, Reproductive Biology Associates in Atlanta New England Fertility and Women’s Health Care of New England serving in different roles within the medical community.
Beatrice, or Bea as she likes to be called, is fluent in Spanish. She earned her Associates Degree in Science as well as a certification as a Medical Assistant at Norwalk Community College.

She has achieved an extensive knowledge and understanding of the medical, psychological and financial aspects of Third Party Reproductive Medicine and has robust experience working with same-sex couples as well as international patients. Beatrice is eager to assist the intended parents to start or expand their family.

Shaunda Brown - Third Party Financial RepresentativeShaunda Brown
Third Party Financial Representative

Shaunda Brown joined the Gay Parents to Be team in 2015 where she works as the Third Party Financial Coordinator. Her experience includes insurance verification, billing and coding, accounts receivable, and payable. Shaunda is proud to be a part of the Gay Parents to Be team and enjoys working with Dr. Mark Leondires, with whom she shares the same passion and enthusiasm in helping to make the patients’ dream of starting and/or building their family a reality. In her spare time, Shaunda enjoys the arts, visiting beaches and participating in activism.

Sandy Laucella - New Patient LiaisonSandy Laucella
Third Party Patient Navigator

Sandy Laucella has been a member of Gay Parents to Be team at RMA of Connecticut since 2014. She has over 11 years of experience working in third-party Reproductive Medicine.  She earned her Bachelors of Science at Long Island University as well as a certification as a Medical Assistant at New England Technical Institute.  She has extensive knowledge in all aspects of the third-party program and her current role is guiding patients through the beginning stages of their surrogacy and egg donation journeys.

Yvonne Cardinal - Recipient CoordinatorYvonne Cardinal
Recipient Coordinator

Yvonne Cardinal has been with the Gay Parents to Be Team for 2 years and works as the donor matching coordinator. She guides patients along the journey of matching with an RMA egg donor and assists with coordinating donor egg retrieval cycles. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Behavioral Neuroscience and has previously worked at RMA NY in their embryology department. She is knowledgeable in known gamete donations, and actively listens to patients’ needs to help provide the best care for prospective parents. Yvonne works closely with the Gay Parents to Be team to help patients achieve their family building dreams.

Courtney HutchinsonCourtney Hutchinson
Third-Party Patient Navigator

Courtney Hutchinson has been a Patient Navigator at RMA of Connecticut for over 3 years and has recently transitioned into her role as Third Party Patient Navigator. As a Third Party Patient Navigator, Courtney assists in the screening process of potential egg donors before they are accepted into our pool. She enjoys the opportunity to assist couples in building and expanding their families, as well as educating the potential donors about their own fertility in the process.