Lisa Saunders is seen below holding a photograph of her daughter Elizabeth (1989-2006) with Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy at the ceremonial signing for “Public Act 15-10: An Act Concerning Cytomegalovirus” at the Office of the Governor in Hartford, CT, on July 28, 2015.
The following information was updated June 4, 2021. To download CMV resume, click here.
Lisa Saunders is the mother of Elizabeth born severely disabled by congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV), the leading viral cause of birth defects, in 1989. Just prior to her pregnancy with Elizabeth, Lisa had a miscarriage but was not tested for CMV or other prenatal infections. Until Elizabeth's birth, Lisa was unaware of CMV and although she was a licensed, in-home child care provider, a church nursery volunteer and the mother of a toddler--all activities that put her at high risk for CMV--she was not educated about the disease and how to reduce her chances of contracting it. In 2015, Lisa was instrumental in helping Connecticut become the second state in the U.S. to enact a law requiring the testing of newborns for CMV if they fail their hearing screen. A graduate of Cornell University, Lisa is a public speaker, an award-winning writer and the author of several books--some with a CMV prevention message.
Lisa volunteers with the National CMV Foundation and other organizations that encourage a woman’s right to know how to protect her pregnancies congenital CMV, which disables approximately 4,000 newborns each year in the U.S. She tries to get laws passed to battle CMV and often asks the media to help raise awareness of CMV prevention. She says, “I am currently asking New York to expand its CMV law to require prevention education. I am also asking the public to share and perhaps sign my Declaration of Women's CMV Rights and Sentiments (inspired by the Women's Rights Declaration of Sentiments of 1848). Despite my work over the last 30 years, and the work of other families and doctors, a recent study concluded that 91% of women have never heard of congenital CMV (Doutre et. al, 2016).
Lisa’s CMV Awareness Efforts:
In 2015, Connecticut became the second state in the U.S. to require CMV testing when an infant fails their hearing test.
On May 22, 2019, OSHA announced in "QuickTakes," its newsletter on workplace safety and health: "A common virus, Cytomegalovirus (CMV) affects thousands of workers in childcare centers and healthcare facilities. These workers are at the greatest risk of exposure because the virus is often spread through saliva and other body fluids of young children. OSHA's new webpage on CMV [https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/cmv/], explains how to minimize health risks associated with workers' exposure to this virus."on workplace safety and health: "A common virus, Cytomegalovirus (CMV) affects thousands of workers in childcare centers and healthcare facilities. These workers are at the greatest risk of exposure because the virus is often spread through saliva and other body fluids of young children. OSHA's new webpage on CMV, explains how to minimize health risks associated with workers' exposure to this virus."
The MotherToBaby.org Education Committee updated their CMV fact sheet to add a question specific to occupational exposure.
Lisa’s CMV work includes:
Lecturing on CMV prevention, legislation, and research.
Writing adult and children’s books on CMV prevention.
Interviewing health and wellness experts on her local access TV talk show out of Baldwinsville, NY. See interview on PAC-B TV: "Did You Know? - CytoMegaloVirus (CMV) - What Moms Wished They Knew" (May 7, 2021)
Coordinate the planning and delivery of CMV information through press releases, newsletters, Facebook (Congenital CMV News); educational campaigns (workshops, public service announcements,”Had I Known (about CMV)”; health fairs and behavior change programs such as “Share a Meal, Not the Germs” and “Keep Your Cups to Yourself.”
Education: Cornell University, Ithaca, NY: B.S. - Business Management and Marketing (1982).
Mother of a child who suffered from congenital CMV for 16 years (1989-2006).
Former licensed child care provider (1986-1993) unaware of increased risk for CMV.
Commendations: Infection Control Nurses of Connecticut: Honored for “Unwavering dedication in her crusade to stop CMV (2013) and Cornell University President, Letter of appreciation for CMV work (2013)
International author of books providing a CMV prevention message.
New England Consortium on Deafblindness, online (Feb. 12, 2021)
Cytomegalovirus Awareness Day. Presentation: “An Inconvenient Truth: What Everyone Should Know.” Co-presented with Nellie Brown, MS, CIH, Director of Workplace Health & Safety Programs, Lead Programs Manager, Certified Industrial Hygienist, The Worker Institute, ILR School, Cornell University. Contact Tracy Evans Luiselli, Ed.D., Director, New England Consortium on Deafblindness (NEC), firstname.lastname@example.org
Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Annual Meeting, Kansas City, Missouri (March 8-11, 2020)
Presentation: “Early Identification of Children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing Plus (D/HH Plus) Including those who are Deaf-Blind” Parent panel. Contact Tracy Evans Luiselli, Ed.D., Director, New England Consortium on Deafblindness (NEC), email@example.com
American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), Connecticut River Valley (Oct. 3, 2019)
Presentation: “What Child Care Providers, Teachers and Pregnant Women Need to Know About CMV”. AIHA works to provide information and resources to Industrial Hygienists and Occupational Health professionals. Contact: Nellie Brown, MS, CIH, Director of Workplace Health & Safety Programs, Lead Programs Manager, Certified Industrial Hygienist, The Worker Institute, Buffalo, NY 14203. ILR School, Cornell University, t. 716 852 1444 x111, firstname.lastname@example.org | www.ilr.cornell.edu
Siemens Healthineers, Healthy Mother/Healthy Baby Thought Leadership Webinar (Sept.18, 2019
Presentation: “Understanding TORCH Infections from both a Clinical and Personal Perspective”.Co-presented with Pablo J. Sánchez, M.D.,Professor of Pediatrics, The Ohio State University – Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Divisions of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine and Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Director, Clinical & Translational Research (Neonatology). www.siemens-healthineers.com/education/optimal-pregnancy-outcomes-proper-id-testing
Contact: Louise Loughran, Global Marketing Manager, Siemens Healthineers, Louise.email@example.com
Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & Science, Los Angeles, California (March 6, 2019)
Good News Radio Magazine: "Prenatal Infections". Co-presented with James A. McGregor, MDCM (obstetrician and gynecologist) and Marti Perhach, CEO, Group B Strep International. Contact: Andrea Jones, Projects Specialist, Healthy African American Families, AndreaJones@haafii.org
Prenatal Infection Prevention Symposium, online (Feb. 26, 2019)
Video presentation: “Help Child Care Providers Fight Cytomegalovirus (CMV): Protect Newborns From #1 Birth Defects Virus.” Contact: Marti Perhach, Group B Strep International (GBSI) Cofounder and CEO: firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Massachusetts Medical School, Shewsbury, Massachusetts (Jan. 16)
Meeting presentation: “Connecticut Experience with CMV Testing Legislation: Barriers & Solutions". Contact leader of Massachusetts Congenital CMV Working Group: Laura Gibson, M.D., Associate Professor, Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Chief, Division of Medicine-Pediatrics, Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics, University of Massachusetts Medical School, email@example.com
CMV Public Health & Policy Conference, Burlington, Vermont (Sept. 24, 2018)
Poster: "Increasing Child Care Provider Awareness of Congenital Cytomegalovirus”, co-presented with Brenda Kinsella Balch, MD, Connecticut Chapter Champion for the American Academy of Pediatrics Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program. Contact: President, National CMV Foundation: firstname.lastname@example.org
Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Las Vegas, NV (January 26, 2017)
"Congenital CMV and Research" – Caesars Palace. www.smfm.org/meetings/2-37th-annual-pregnancy-meeting. Sabine Bousleiman M.S.N,M.S.PH, Program Director, Columbia University, OBGYN Department, (212) 305-4348, (917) 673-7790, email@example.com. See study: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01376778
Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Coalition, Hamden, CT (December 13, 2016) “What Caregivers and Pregnant Women Need to Know About CMV”.
Women's Consortium: www.womensconsortium.org. Marijane Carey, firstname.lastname@example.org
Congenital CMV Public Health & Policy Conference, Austin, TX (September 27, 2016)
“As One Door Closed, Another Door Opened: CT Congenital CMV Initiative”, co-presented with Brenda Kinsella Balch, MD, CT pediatrician and Chapter Champion for the American Academy of Pediatrics Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program, email@example.com. http://cmvconference.org/.
Medical Assistance Program Oversight Council's Women’s Health Committee, Hartford, CT (July 13, 2015) “Connecticut and Congenital CMV”. www.cga.ct.gov/med/default.asp. Richard Eighme, Medical Assistance Program Oversight Council, (860) 240-0321, Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org
Connecticut Public Health Committee, Capitol Legislative Office Building, Hartford, CT (February 20, 2015). Public Testimony for H.B. 5525: “AN ACT CONCERNING CYTOMEGALOVIRUS”
CMV Public Health & Policy Conference, Salt Lake City, UT (September 26, 2014)
“How a Parent Can Raise a CMV Prevention Message”. CMVconference.org/archive/cmv2014/index.html. Contact Gail J Demmler-Harrison, MD, Professor, Pediatrics, Section Infectious Diseases, Baylor College of Medicine, Attending Physician, Infectious Diseases Service, Texas Children's Hospital, Congenital CMV Disease Research, Clinic & Registry, 832-824-4330, email@example.com
Infection Control Nurses of Connecticut Annual Spring Seminar, Plantsville, CT (April 2013)
“CMV: Threat to immunocompromised persons” - Aqua Turf Club. http://infectioncontrolct.org/.
Kris Magnussen, Communicable Disease Prevention Supervisor, KMagnussen@llhd.org
CMV 2012 Conference, San Francisco, CA (October 29-November 2, 2012)
“Raising CMV Awareness by Writing'' - Conference Mission Bay Conference Centre. congenitalcmv.org. Lenore Pereira, Ph.D., Founder, Congenital Cytomegalovirus Foundation, and Professor, Cell and Tissue Biology Department, University of California San Francisco, firstname.lastname@example.org
Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, Tarrytown, NY (2010)
“Living With Congenital CMV” (webinar). https://usa.healthcare.siemens.com. Katherine Soreng, Ph.D., Director, Clinical and Scientific Marketing, email@example.com; Louise Loughran, firstname.lastname@example.org
Maternal-Infant Services Network, Orange, Sullivan and Ulster Counties, NY (March 20, 2009)
“Pregnant Women Need to Know about CMV” - Perinatal Update 2009. www.misn-ny.org. Stephanie Sosnowski, BS, ICCE, CLC, Director of Community Health and Wellness, email@example.com
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA (November 5-7, 2008)
“Congenital CMV: My Daughter’s Life and Death” - First International Congenital CMV Conference held in the U.S. See: http://congenitalcmv.blogspot.com/2008/11/cdc-congenital-cmv-cytomegalovirus-and.html. Michael Cannon, Ph.D. firstname.lastname@example.org, a research epidemiologist at the CDC.
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD (Fall 1995)
“Raising my handicapped daughter” - Guest speaker to a graduate class of special education teachers, therapists, and social workers. Mary Goodin, M. Ed., OTR, Ssagoodin@cs.com
Visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern Connecticut, Waterford, CT (Oct. 4, 2017). “CMV: Protect Your Pregnancy.” www.vnasc.org. Contact: Deborah Buxton-Morris, M.S., R.N. Program Supervisor, email@example.com
Connecticut Public Health Committee, Capitol Legislative Office Building, Hartford, CT (February 28, 2014) Public Testimony for H.B. 5147: “AN ACT CONCERNING NEWBORN SCREENING FOR CYTOMEGALOVIRUS AND ESTABLISHING A PUBLIC EDUCATION PROGRAM FOR CYTOMEGALOVIRUS.”
The Woman’s City Club of Norwich, Norwich, CT (2015)
“How a Mother Raised Awareness of CMV and Got Connecticut to Pass a Bill.” Otis Library.
Eileen Nagel, firstname.lastname@example.org
Westerly Registered Nurse’s Club, Westerly, RI (April 22, 2014)
“Supporting a Connecticut CMV Bill,” Mermaid Café. Ida Manzella, email@example.com
State University of New York at Rockland, Suffern, NY (December 9, 2008)
Science Lecture Series, #2: “Anything But a Dog”: Story of my daughter born with congenital CMV. Series organized by a nursing professor.
BOOKS, VIDEOS, ARTICLES AND OTHER RESOURCE MATERIALS
Help Childcare Providers Fight CMV. A workbook for child care directors and policy makers (2018).
Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with CMV. A memoir (Unlimited Publishing, 2008, Japan: Thousand Books, 2017)
Surviving Loss: The Woodcutter’s Tale: Fairytale about losing a child plus moving forward (2013)
Once Upon a Placemat--A Table Setting Tale: Coloring Book and CMV Prevention Tool (2016). When Lisa can't remember how to set the table, her grandmother teaches her to listen to the silverware. How does Mr. Knife keep the dish from running away with the spoon? Why does Miss Cup insist she and the others get a bath before being shared? Book includes images for coloring, recipes, and germ prevention tips, especially against CMV, which is more widespread than Zika.
Educational Video: Help Child Care Providers and Moms Fight CMV
"Give Grandma and Grandpa a Lift on the Erie Canal?" Messing About in Boats, March 2021.
"The Danger of Spreading CMV: How We Can Protect Our Children" (ChildCare Aware of America, June 2017).
“Help Childcare Providers Fight CMV” (National CMV Foundation, 2018, March 5)
CMV: The Virus Nobody Talks About. Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, p. 41. (Fall 2010).
Family Health: The Tragic Kiss--Suffern Mom Works to Spread Word About CMV. Rockland Parent Magazine. (2007, September).
Pregnant Women: Learn Risk of CMV. The Journal News, p. 4B. (2007, January 28).
Epilepsy: Elizabeth, Forever Sweet Sixteen. CURE (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy) Newsletter, p. 5. (Summer 2006).
Elizabeth: A Christmas Blessing. Challenge Magazine, 2(4), pp. 14, 16. (1994).
Above-sink wall flyer, "Diaper Wipes Don't Kill CMV"
Wall Flyer For Women Who Care for Toddlers
Tri-fold Flyer for Daycare Directors/Providers
Warning Photograph for Wall/Sharing on Social Media
Music (collaborated with singer/songwriter Debra Lynn Alt)
Song, “Had I Known (about CMV)” by Debra Lynn Alt (2018). Inspired by my story.
Music/image video about my daughter’s life includes CMV prevention: Girl with congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) set to song, "Voice for Sam," by Debra Lynn Alt
ARTICLES & TV INTERVIEWS THAT INCLUDE MY COMMENTS OR CMV WORK
Finger Lakes Times: "MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Couple brings awareness to threat to infant health: CMV" by STEVE BUCHIERE, (June 4, 2021).
The Citizen: "NY Senate passes bill, named for CNY couple's daughter, to boost CMV awareness," by Robert Harding (June 2, 2121).
The Citizen: "'Elizabeth's law,' named for CNY couple's daughter, would boost CMV awareness" by Robert Harding (May 4,2021)
The Citizen, "Challenge for Change: Walking across NY to raise awareness of CMV," by David Wilcox (Mar 31, 2021)
National CMV Awareness Month: Lisa was featured along with musician, Debra Lynn Alt, and pediatrician Brenda K. Balch, M.D., on News 8's: “Mystic mother raises awareness of CMV, a risk for pregnant women and their babies,”2018)
Simsbury Community Television, Inc., Daughters of the American Revolution, The Abigail Phelps Chapter presents: Congenital Cytomegalovirus with guest Lisa Saunders, award winning author, talk show host (May 25, 2017).
Sarah Cody, News Reporter, Facebook CMV Prevention video (June 2018)
Connecticut Magazine: Mystic Mom 'Overwhelmed' by Governor Signing Law on ‘Stealth Virus’ That Can Catch Pregnant Women Unaware (2015)
Cornell Alumni Magazine: In Memory of Elizabeth: Her daughter's death from a preventable disability spurs Lisa Avazian Saunders '82 into action (2015).
Clinical Advisor magazine: “Connecticut passes cytomegalovirus screening law for newborns” (2015)
News 8 Medical/Health Report: "Mystic mom raising awareness about potentially deadly virus" (2015)
Fox CT, Hartford Courant: Mother Working to Protect Pregnant Moms From Dangerous Virus (2014)
Mystic River Press: Saunders seeks help with CMV ‘silent virus’ prevention bill (2014)
Times Herald Record: What every pregnant woman needs to know (2009)
New York Times: CMV Is a Greater Threat to Infants Than Zika, but Far Less Often Discussed (2016). Interviewed about the Connecticut CMV bill. My book about my daughter's life with congenital CMV are seen in background of embedded “Questions & Answers About CMV on Facebook Live.”
INDEPENDENT WRITING/MARKETING CONSULTANT, Nov. 2010 – Present
Content Coordinator, Groton-Mystic Neighbors magazine (Best Version Media publication), since March 2018-October 2019.
New England/New York media and networking consultant. Write press releases, biographies, and marketing materials for clients that include:
National Field Service Corporation
New England Consortium on Deafblindness
Connie Howard Music.
MYSTIC SEAPORT, Mystic, CT, 2010 – 2019 (part-time)
Historical Interpreter: Orally present maritime history and artifacts to the general public.
STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK AT ROCKLAND, Suffern, NY, 2006 – 2010
Campus Communications Assistant
Promoted events and programs to the media, authoring press releases, which resulted in newspaper coverage of the college and faculty. Wrote the alumni newsletter, SCENE, with quarterly circulation of 35,000. Used Twitter, Facebook, and RCC Speakers Bureau as additional promotional tools.
Awarded by the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations, District I: “Gold Medallion” for Academic Convocation Booklet (2010); Silver for Departmental Brochures (2010); and Bronze for ad print series, which featured noteworthy alumni (2009).
Received national coverage on Fox and Friends and in Associated Press through press releases relating the circumstances of individual students or faculty to current events.
NATIONAL FIELD SERVICE CORPORATION, Suffern, NY, 1998 – 2008 (presently consulting)
Recruiter / Marketing Specialist for consulting company
Interviewed approximately 80 candidates monthly and communicated with clients on employment needs in the utility, communications, and right-of-way industries. Represented company at job fairs and coordinated marketing events, including annual 100-guest Christmas party and sleepover event at West Point Academy. Placed many applicants with AT&T. Maintained database of applicants in People Trak.
LICENSED HOME DAY CARE PROVIDER, Rockville, MD, 1987-1993
Provided in-home care and educational programs for up to six children.
Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy at the ceremonial signing for “Public Act 15-10: An Act Concerning Cytomegalovirus” at the Office of the Governor in Hartford, CT, on July 28, 2015. (L to R): Jane Baird, Government Relations, Connecticut Children's Medical Center; Dr. Wallis Molchen, Chief Resident, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center; Jane Brancifort, Deputy Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Public Health; State Representative, John Hampton; Dr. Brenda K. Balch, American Academy of Pediatrics Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Chapter Champion; Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman; Lisa Saunders, parent rep, Congenital Cytomegalovirus Foundation, holding picture of daughter Elizabeth; Kevin Ryan, State Representative; Governor Dannel P. Malloy; Cathy Osten, State Senator; Ken Hiscoe, Pfizer, Government Relations; Jarred and his mother, Melvette Ruffin; DeVaughn Ward, Liaison, Department of Public Health; and Kinson Perry, lobbyist at Rome, Smith & Lutz.
I felt sick at what my lack of knowledge had done to my little girl. In milder cases, children with congenital CMV may lose hearing or struggle with learning disabilities. But Elizabeth's case was not a mild one. When my husband Jim heard Elizabeth's grim prognosis, he stared at her and said, “She needs me”—just like Charlie Brown with that pathetic Christmas tree.
CDC, Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine, Maternal and Child Health Coalition, and Infection Control Nurses of Connecticut.
|Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with CMV (cytomegalovirus) (my memoir about my daughter's life).|
|Survivng Loss: The Wooder's Tale (a fairy tale inspired by my daughter's death and belief we will all be reunited one day)|
|Once Upon a Placemat--A table setting tale: Coloring book and CMV prevention tips from Miss Cup. (Click here for video of me introducing book and here for placemats for downloading and coloring.)|
Mystic Seafarer's Trail: Misadventures trying to get thin and famous so people will hear about CMV (2012)