Kathryn D. Marocchino founded The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets in 1996 with her husband, Gianfranco, in response to the emotional trauma they suffered when their tabby, Nikki, had to be euthanized during the final stages of acute feline kidney failure, and in 1998, The NHFP officially incorporated as a 501(C)(3) nonprofit. A professor at The California Maritime Academy (CSU Maritime), trained hospice volunteer, professional translator, and author of several books and articles, Kathryn currently directs the Academy’s Community Service Learning Center, after pioneering her campus’s first service-learning course in death and dying through a unique partnership with Kaiser Vallejo’s Hospice Department in 1999. She has a doctorate in modern foreign languages and literature from the University of Turin (Italy), where she held a lectureship for several years before coming to the United States and has also taught at UC Davis and at Stanford University. In 2001, she completed the Professional Program in the Study of Loss and Grief through UC Berkeley Extension and now provides on-going bereavement support on her campus for faculty, staff, and students. She is also Certified in Thanatology through the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) and holds a certificate in Critical Incident Stress Management from the International CISM Foundation. Kathryn also serves as consultant to the Emergency Preparedness Committee on her campus and is a member of ADEC’s Human Resource Network. As president of The NHFP, she conducts pet loss support workshops every Saturday under the aegis of the Benicia-Vallejo Humane Society and offers nationwide telephone counseling through The NHFP pet loss support hotline. She has been a guest on both radio and television shows and has discussed veterinary hospice care at many conferences and symposiums, with audiences ranging from veterinarians and veterinary technicians to mental health/hospice personnel and death educators. Her articles on the subject are among the first of their kind to appear in both professional journals and lay publications, and she is currently planning a book on The NHFP as well as a handbook of veterinary hospice care. In 2003, in recognition of her outstanding commitment to the community, Kathryn was recognized by the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism and in 2005, she and her husband were both awarded the President’s Lifetime Call to Service Award. Here she is pictured with their beloved borzoi, Pickle Hill’s Anastasia, who passed away in 2001.  





Dale E. Suess is currently the vice-president of The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets and has been a pet parent for over thirty-five years. He has also served as a counselor at the Redwood and White Oaks Chapels in Redwood City, California, since 2000, meeting and assisting families and individuals in making arrangements for either interment or cremation services and acting as secular service speaker during funeral and memorial services. He is also the founder and president of The House of Anubis, a service for individuals and families seeking special or unique memorial products for their companion animals. For the last twenty years, he has been a pet hospice caregiver for his own pets as well as for friends who have come to him in need. He is a co-founding member of the California Historical Cemetery Alliance and has served on the board of directors of the Old City Cemetery in Sacramento. He acted as consultant and co-chairman for the Victorian Mourning Exhibition in 1998, among others, and has published a number of articles relating to cemetery restoration and funerals. As a noted historian in the field of mortuary customs, creative rituals, cemetery art and memorialization, Mr. Suess is one of the most knowledgeable speakers in his field and has lectured widely nationwide while also serving as a consultant to many famous funeral establishments. He has been profiled in a number of newspapers, has appeared on many television shows, and has conducted several public tours of historical cemeteries around the country. He owns an extensive collection of funerary items, slides and photographs as well as a large private library of books about funeral customs and mortuary art and has researched, visited and photographed  numerous cemeteries on the West Coast. Currently, he is designing a new product line of pet urns as well as customized caskets for people and has devoted much of his time toward promoting the work of The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets within the funeral industry. His deep love for companion animals and his profound understanding of both hospice care and the grieving process have made him an ideal spokesperson for this innovative and ground-breaking branch of veterinary medicine. He and his partner now live in Oakland, California, with a cat who has decided to take up residence on their property. Dale is pictured here with Bubba and Bessie, his beloved Basset Hounds, who passed away in 2005 and 2006, respectively.


Eileen Kinder is the secretary of The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets and is a Nutrition Educator as well as a Certified Nutritional Consultant through the AANC. She is a graduate of the Institute for Educational Therapy (now Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts) and is currently majoring in Biblical Studies at the Trinity College of Natural Health. She has worked as a nutritionist for Helena Women’s Health in San Jose and for the Baldwin and Baldwin medical team in Pal Alto, California and is well known by physicians associated with Lifespan, Harmony Women’s Health and the Vital Care Institute of Health. In 1998, she opened a private practice in her home in Vallejo, Eating for Balance, which revolves around both people and companion animals. Eileen not only provides nutrition consults to her clients but healthy cooking instructions as well and is frequently asked to give presentations on various health issues to Bay Area community centers and pet stores. A proud mother of two children, she has also been a pet parent to several rabbits, rats, hamsters and cats, as well as a cockatiel and an iguana. Her extensive knowledge of nutrition and her intuitive understanding of the overall factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle have provided her with a unique insight into what constitutes a truly well-balanced and natural diet, and she has been highly successful in treating—and even reversing—pathological conditions in both humans and pets by gradually implementing changes in their eating habits. In 2002, she provided home hospice care for her twelve-year-old rabbit, Leo, who suffered from torticollis (wry neck) and convulsions, until Leo was peacefully euthanized in her arms. It was an experience she never regretted and which she felt had provided closure for her entire family by allowing them time to say goodbye. Eileen now has a cat named Socks and a chocolate Labrador Retriever named Hershey, pictured here next to her.


Gianfranco Marocchino is a co-founder of The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets, along with his wife, Kathryn, and serves as treasurer on the board of directors of The NHFP. He has always had a deep love for animals and over the years, has gradually developed a unique relationship with the squirrels, opossums, birds, and other wildlife that frequent the Marocchino’s peaceful garden at Rosemoor House. A native of Italy, Gianfranco holds the equivalent of an associate degree in commercial science and served for many years as a police officer with the Guardie Forestali (Italian National Forest Rangers), the Carabinieri (Italian National Law Enforcement Agency) and the Guardie Municipali (Municipal Guard). After leaving the service, he worked as a select security guard for Vigilanza Mondialpol, in both the plainclothes and armored car units and eventually joined Elbi International, where he became chief of security. After arriving in the United States with his wife, Kathryn, in 1982, he worked at Sierra Academy of Aeronautics at Oakland International Airport, where he was placed in charge of maintenance, landscaping and fueling. Since retiring in 1988, he has devoted himself entirely to landscaping and gardening at Rosemoor House, transforming the property into a veritable nature sanctuary, and after the creation of The NHFP, has dedicated countless hours to the organization as a volunteer. In 2005, he and his wife both received the President’s Lifetime Call to Service Award. He is pictured here with Sacha, the Marocchinos' wise, affectionate, and magical American shorthair cat who they lost to a tragic hit- and-run accident in 2006.








Anthony J. Smith is the latest addition to the Board of Directors of The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets and serves as a board member. He earned his undergraduate degree in Biology from Stanford University and graduated from the University of California School of Veterinary Medicine in Davis. Following graduation, he completed an internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery in Santa Ana, California. For the next ten years, Dr. Smith worked as a veterinarian at a variety of zoos, including the Santa Barbara, El Paso, and Oakland Zoos and as the director of the Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose, California. For the next several years, he worked in small animal practice while earning his MBA at California State University, East Bay. Dr. Smith began teaching in the Veterinary Technician training program at Western Career College in 2000 and eventually became the Program Director, leading the program to its first ever accreditation by the American Veterinary Medical Association. During this time, he founded Rainbow Bridge Veterinary Services, one of the only veterinary practices in the world devoted exclusively to providing end-of-life care (hospice and euthanasia) to pets in their own homes. In addition to his work with Rainbow Bridge, Dr. Smith also serves as an adjunct professor in biology at Contra Costa College and provides medical services for the Contra Costa Animal Shelter. Dr. Smith is a renowned author with over 20 professional journal and textbook publications and has lectured at dozens of conferences and symposia on topics ranging from animal hospice to hedgehog medicine. His outside interests include volunteering, camping, and hiking with his dog, Rio. He is pictured here with Cody and Montana, his two previous canine companions and the inspirations for Rainbow Bridge Veterinary Services.








Jill Sperry serves as a board member of The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets.  She earned an undergraduate degree in medical microbiology and bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked in pediatric cancer research before attending and graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine in 1995. The following year, she did an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. She worked at various clinics in Wisconsin and California before taking an associate veterinarian position at the Benicia Veterinary Hospital in Benicia, California. She was promoted to medical director in 2003. Her veterinary interests include internal and geriatric medicine, and since joining the Board of Directors of The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets, Jill has been involved in providing hospice care for several of her clients, many of whom are referred to her by The NHFP. The philosophy of veterinary hospice care is one that she ardently embraces, and she has been a true asset to the organization. Jill’s outside interests include caring for her three English bulldogs, Brittany, Lucylu and Guinness. She also enjoys camping with her husband Dan, cooking, gardening, and reading as well as being an avid NASCAR fan. Jill is pictured here with Guinness.










Young-ae Kim is a board member of The Nikki Hospice Foundation for Pets and fully shares the philosophy of veterinary hospice care. Originally a native of Korea, she now makes her home in the Bay Area, where she worked for some time as a hospice volunteer. She is currently employed as a registered nurse in the critical care unit at Kaiser Permanente. Although she was also an abstract painter for many years and still enjoys producing artwork occasionally, most of her spare time is now devoted to caring for the strays she has rescued from local streets and for whom she has not been able to find loving homes. Young-ae’s background in both hospice and nursing has proven to be extremely valuable in her canine rescue work, and she has managed to save the lives of many dogs or to provide them with palliative care when it  was needed. Here she is pictured with her most recently rescued friends:  Leo, Amber, Wolfie, Sandy, Dee Dee and Capa.