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New Congress, New Opportunities: NFDA Revamps 2015 Advocacy Summit Schedule to Deliver Greater Value

December 8, 2014

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New Congress, New Opportunities: NFDA Revamps 2015 Advocacy Summit Schedule to Deliver Greater Value

Brookfield, Wis. – Members of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) will make their way to the nation’s capitol for the association’s 2015 Advocacy Summit. The 2015 Advocacy Summit will be critical because of the changes following the 2014 midterm elections; NFDA needs its members to help educate newly-elected members of Congress and incumbents about the current issues impacting the profession. To help funeral professionals more effectively reach out to Congress, and deliver greater value to Summit attendees, NFDA has reinvigorated the conference by revising the schedule of events and offering opportunities to earn continuing education credits.


The revitalized Advocacy Summit will kick-off on Tuesday, March 3 with an orientation session. During this session NFDA staff and congressional staffers will share best practices for conducting effective visits with members of Congress. Orientation attendees will also have a chance to participate in and observe a mock “Hill visit” to prepare them for meetings with congressional representatives.


On Wednesday, March 4, the Advocacy Summit will welcome guest speakers who will address issues related to the care of veterans, military personnel and their families. NFDA has invited a keynote speaker from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Following the keynote address, a panel of experts from the VA and Department of Defense will share insights and answer questions on issues such as military funeral honors, burial at VA cemeteries, unclaimed veteran remains, funeral and burial benefits for veterans and their families, and VA reimbursement. The panel will consist of:

  • Deborah Skillman, director of Casualty, Mortuary Affairs and Military Funeral Honors, Department of Defense
  • Jack E. Lechner, Jr, CFSP, superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, Department of Defense
  • Kimberly Wright, National Cemetery Administration Office of Field Programs, Department of Veterans Affairs


Summit participants who attend the VA panel discussion can earn 1 CE credit. NFDA expects to confirm the keynote and panel speakers in the weeks to come.


Following the panel presentation, Summit attendees will, in conjunction with funeral professionals from their state, meet with their legislators. During these critical meetings, NFDA members can take a proactive approach to advancing legislation that protects funeral consumers and benefits the profession and small businesses. NFDA expects to announce the key issues on which members will advocate in early 2015 after the new session of Congress begins and legislation impacting funeral service has been introduced.


While NFDA members are advocating on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, they can visit the special NFDA Welcome Room in the Capitol Hill Club. In the NFDA Welcome Room members can meet with NFDA staff, association past presidents and other experienced Summit attendees and ask questions and share information about what has transpired during their meetings. Light refreshments will be available.

The evening of March 4, Summit attendees can attend a reception with complimentary beverages and light appetizers, in the historic foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building. NFDA will invite members of congress and their staff to attend this reception, which will give attendees an opportunity to continue building relationships with their elected officials.


On Thursday, March 5, the morning’s focus issue will be mass-fatality management. Jeff Beatty, a nationally-renowned expert on mass-fatality incidents, will offer a keynote address. Following Beatty’s talk, a panel of funeral service experts will discuss ways in which the profession can effectively respond to mass-fatality incidents so the dignity of the dead is preserved and families can honor their loved ones with a meaningful funeral or memorial service. The panel will consist of:

  • W. Scott Smith of Heritage Crematory in Plano, Texas, who cremated the body of Thomas Duncan, the first man to die of an Ebola infection in the United States.
  • David R. Patterson of Global Mortuary Affairs in Mesquite, Texas, who worked with Smith to care for Duncan and is experienced with handling mass-fatality incidents.
  • Alysia English, executive director of the Georgia Funeral Directors Association.


Summit attendees can earn 1 CE credit for the keynote speaker and 1 CE credit for the panel discussion.


Following the morning’s speakers, attendees have the option of participating in an exclusive tour of Arlington National Cemetery with Superintendent Jack E. Lechner Jr., CFSP. Following an operational overview of the cemetery, attendees will visit President John F. Kennedy’s grave, participate in an NFDA wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and witness the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.


Following the visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, tour participants will be able to witness a full-honors military funeral at Arlington National Cemetery – for many this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


NFDA urges attendees to view the detailed schedule for the 2015 NFDA Advocacy Summit on its website,, before making travel arrangements.


The registration fees for the 2015 Advocacy Summit are:

  On or before January 30, 2015 After January 30, 2015
NFDA Member (no CE) $125 $175
NFDA Members (with CE) $225 $275
Nonmembers (no CE) $199 $249
Nonmembers (with CE) $325 $375
Guests $60 $110
Arlington Tour $55


Funeral professionals should visit or call 800-228-6332 for more event information about the Advocacy Summit and to register.


Attendees who plan to stay at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel must make their reservations by January 30 to lock in the special Advocacy Summit rate of $259 per night, plus tax. Hotel reservations can be made by visiting and clicking on the “Hotel/Travel” link or by calling the Renaissance Hotels at 877-212-5752 and mentioning the “NFDA Advocacy Summit.”


NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving 19,700 individual members who represent more than 10,000 funeral homes in the United States and 39 countries around the world. NFDA is the trusted leader, beacon for ethics and the strongest advocate for the profession. NFDA is the association of choice because it offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., and has an office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit