Enter Today: NFDA Meet the Mentors Program Provides Inspiration to New Professionals



Brookfield, WI — National Funeral Directors Association members are invited to enter for their chance to participate in the association’s transformational Meet the Mentors program, which will take place March 12-14, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Emory Conference Center Hotel on the campus of Emory University. 

Meet the Mentors has been wholly funded by the Funeral Service Foundation since its 2011 inception. The Funeral Service Foundation’s support of Meet the Mentors helps fulfill its mission of investing in people and programs to strengthen funeral service and lift up grieving communities. 

During Meet the Mentors, up to 30 funeral professionals who are age 40 or under or new to the profession (first licensed within the last five years) will have an opportunity to meet, learn from and talk with innovative and successful funeral professionals. Meet the Mentors also helps participants to network and form relationships with other new professionals. 

Three highly esteemed funeral professionals have been selected as the 2023 mentors:

David Hernández, Jr., is a first-generation funeral director and founder and operator of Jersey Memorial Group, which is comprised of 13 funeral homes and cemeteries that collectively serve 2,000 families each year in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Many of his firms are consistent NFDA Pursuit of Excellence Award recipients; his firms earned the Best of the Best Award in 2017 and 2022. He currently serves on the Funeral Service Foundation Board of Trustees.

Duane E. Hills is president of Joseph Gawler’s Sons Funeral Home in Washington, DC. Originally from rural Pennsylvania he moved to New York State before attending Simmons School of Mortuary Science in Syracuse, New York. In 2008, he joined SCI to manage a group of funeral homes and a cemetery in Lufkin, Texas. In 2012, he transferred to Washington, D.C. where he became the assistant manager at Joseph Gawler’s Sons. In 2022 Duane self-published a book on the history of Joseph Gawler’s Sons, “One Block West of the White House,” which can be found in both the Presidential Library at the White House and the Law Library at the United States Supreme Court.

Annette March-Grier, RN., CFSP, is vice president of her family’s business, March Funeral Homes, with locations in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. She is the visionary behind Roberta’s House Inc., a nonprofit family grief support center founded in 2007 by the March family. March-Grier is the president of Roberta’s House and has led the way for grief education and support for grieving children and families in Baltimore for more than 37 years. She was selected by CNN as one of the Top Ten CNN heroes of 2014 for changing the world.   

During Meet the Mentors, Hernandez, Hills and March-Grier will share career advice and lessons they have learned while building rewarding and fulfilling careers in funeral service. Attendees will be able to connect with the mentors and their fellow mentees during small group discussions, interactive exercises and meals. 

Previous Meet the Mentors participants offer consistently high praise for the program; one said, “I just want to say thank you. The program… was informative. It was transformational. I would go every year if I could.”

“This was such a special experience that I will forever cherish,” another mentee said. “Thank you to… each of the presenters for sharing their expertise with us.”

Another program participant noted, “I really, really enjoyed the presenters; I thought they had such great knowledge. For the wonderful people that I got to meet, I am so grateful.”

There is no cost to participate in the Meet the Mentors program itself. The Funeral Service Foundation’s generous grant provides exclusive, career-transforming access to three mentors, and covers attendees’ registration fees, two nights’ lodging and select meals (reception and dinner on March 12; breakfast, lunch and dinner on March 13; and breakfast and lunch on March 14). The individuals selected to attend only pay for their transportation to and from Atlanta. 

The names of the 2023 Meet the Mentors participants will be randomly drawn from among all who enter via the NFDA website, www.nfda.org/mentors. Entrants must be NFDA members in good standing, licensed funeral directors and/or embalmers, and age 40 or under or new to the profession (first licensed within the last five years). In addition to providing basic information, entrants will be required to submit a letter of good standing from their funeral home owner or manager and answer an brief essay question. 

Entries will be accepted through 5 p.m. CST on January 13, 2023. The names of the 2023 Meet the Mentors participants will be announced on January 23, 2023. 

Complete details about the NFDA Meet the Mentors program, including eligibility requirements, information about the mentors and the entry form, can be found on the NFDA website, www.nfda.org/mentors. Members can also call NFDA at 800-228-6332 with questions.

NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving more than 20,000 individual members who represent nearly 11,000 funeral homes in the United States and 49 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 www.nfda.org.

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