Brookfield, Wis. — The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) is bringing the funeral service profession together for the 2021 International Convention & Expo, taking place October 17 through 20 in Nashville, Tennessee. Funeral professionals will have a chance to reunite with colleagues, reexplore what it means to serve families, and renew their professional passion through unrivaled opportunities for learning, networking, and discovering new products and services. Registration is now open.

NFDA to Host Three Keynote Speakers

NFDA has added a third keynote speaker to its line-up of engaging and inspiring individuals who will help attendees thrive in these uncertain times.

Think Different presented by Duncan Wardle, founder of ID8 & Innov8 (Monday, October 18)

The ability to think creatively is a core human truth that will always remain relevant in our rapidly changing world. Our education and corporate structure have taught us that there is only one right answer, but how will we survive if we keep doing business as usual? Leaning on 25 years with the Walt Disney Company, most recently as head of innovation and creativity, Wardle will share experiences from his time at Disney to illustrate how attendees can be more creative and innovative. They will learn to “Think Different” and solve real challenges in the marketplace. Wardle is sponsored by Homesteaders Solutions.

Lessons on Embracing Change and Opportunities for Growth presented by Whitney Johnson, CEO of WLJ Advisors, author and personal disruption expert (Tuesday, October 19)

No one made a conscious decision to disrupt their lives – the pandemic did it for us. While true disruption can happen any time, we must learn to control disorder and build momentum along an S Curve of LearningTM. The S Curve leverages the Seven-point Person Disruption FrameworkTM, representing a cycle of maturity. Convention attendees will be invited to take the online S Curve assessment before the event. During the session, Johnson will share helpful guidance and practical resources to help attendees accelerate their personal growth.

Resilience in the Face of Uncertainty presented by Ben Nemtin, author and co-founder of The Buried Life Movement (Wednesday, October 20)

The world is changing faster than anyone ever imagined, and leaders and teams have to dig deep within themselves to break through and find opportunity in uncertain times. Before becoming a New York Times best selling author, playing basketball at the White House, and having beers with Prince Harry, Nemtin suffered from crippling depression. After a shift in perspective that changed his life, Nemtin committed to following his buried dreams and sharing a message that has opened up audiences around the world to cultures of service, gratitude and endless potential.

Unrivaled Education Sessions Tackle Critical Issues

Ongoing education and professional development can help funeral professionals better understand the evolving needs of families, deliver exceptional funerals and memorial services, and build thriving businesses. To help funeral service professionals build upon their foundation of skills, NFDA has planned more than 30 engaging education sessions that will address technical skills; business management; the value of ceremony; marketing and community outreach; grief and bereavement; and more. Sessions include:

  • Ten Techniques to Mitigate Burnout presented by Lynda Cheldelin Fell, CEO of the International Grief Institute
  • The Forgotten Mourners presented by Marc Markell, Ph.D., CT, professor at St. Cloud State University; Kathryn Markell, Ph.D., professor at Anoka-Ramsey Community College
  • From Donation to Goodbye presented by Lisa Romanowski, funeral director, LifeSource; Melinda Van Waus, funeral director, LifeSource
  • How to Prepare a Decomp for Public Viewing presented by Monica Torres, NxT Generation Mortuary Support
  • A Radically Simple Blueprint for Success and Growth presented by David Hernandez Jr., founder of Jersey Memorial Group
  • Finding a Middle Ground with Cremation Families presented by Eugene Wagner, Wagner Family Funerals – Connelly Chapel
  • And much more

NFDA will also offer four preconvention seminars (additional fee):

  • NFDA Arranger Training Seminar presented by Martha Thayer, professor emeritus of the mortuary science program at Arapahoe Community College
  • NFDA Cremation Certification Program presented by Mike Nicodemus, NFDA vice president of cremation services
  • Certified Celebrant Training hosted by NFDA and brought to you by InSight Institute – presented by Glenda Stansbury and Matt Bailey
  • Engaging Problematic Embalming & Restorative Art Cases presented by Karl Wenzel, CFSP, founder of the Canadian School of Advanced PREP; and Glyn Tallon, CFSP

Innovation Flourishes in the Expo Hall

The NFDA Convention features the world’s largest funeral service trade show, offering the newest and most exciting products, services, and innovations from around the world. Many exhibitors plan to introduce new products and services during the convention. The Expo Hall will be open October 18 and 19 from noon to 5 p.m., and October 20 from 9 a.m. to noon.

NFDA Booth Showcase

Attendees won’t want to miss special NFDA booths in the Expo Hall where they can learn about: the association’s advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C.; the Pursuit of Excellence Award Program; saving time and money with NFDA Endorsed Providers; resources for connecting with consumers through Remembering A Life; and staying informed with NFDA Publications.

NFDA Live Exchange

Visitors to the Expo Hall can experience intimate, 10-minute interviews and 20-minute speaker-led sessions with industry movers and shakers in the NFDA Live Exchange area, which is sponsored by Disrupt Media and C&J Financial.

Pause for Paws
Funeral home owners who want to discover the benefits a therapy dog can bring to their firm – and meet certified dogs and puppies-in-training – should visit the Pause for Paws booth, sponsored by Thumbies and Ultimate Canine.

Virtual Reality Technology Lounge

Attendees may have heard about virtual reality, but they can experience it for themselves in the Virtual Reality Technology Lounge, sponsored by Physicians Mutual.

Journey to Serve

Employers looking to recruit capable and focused professionals into available positions can learn more about the Journey to Serve initiative, which is designed to connect military veterans with careers throughout the funeral service profession. The Funeral Service Foundation offers this profession-wide initiative in partnership with the ICCFA Educational Foundation.

Great Big Giveaway

NFDA is giving attendees a chance to win phenomenal prizes during the Great Big Giveaway on October 20. During the Expo Hall hours on Wednesday morning, NFDA’s valued sponsors will hand out tickets for a chance to win a variety of fabulous prizes, including the grand prize of a trip to the 2021 NFDA International Convention & Expo in Baltimore. Winners will be announced during the Wednesday General Session (attendees must be present to win).

Creating Memories in Nashville

A lot of networking happens during education sessions and in the Expo Hall, but NFDA’s unique social events will give attendees an opportunity to develop new relationships and renew old ones. Special events, planned exclusively for NFDA Convention attendees, will showcase the energy and excitement of Nashville.

Habitat for Humanity

On Saturday, October 16, attendees will swap their suits and casket keys for jeans and a hammer to help make the dream of home ownership a reality for a local family by volunteering at a Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville build site. There is no fee to participate in this annual service project, but volunteer slots are limited and attendees must sign up in advance. Those who cannot participate at the build site can support volunteers’ efforts by signing on as a donor or sponsor. 

Funeral Service Foundation Golf Classic

Since its 2001 inception, the Funeral Service Foundation’s annual Golf Classic has raised more than $1.5 million to advance its mission of investing in people and programs to strengthen funeral service and lift up grieving communities. This year’s event will be held Sunday, October 17 at the scenic President’s Reserve at Hermitage Golf Course, which has been recognized by Golf Digest as one of the top 10 courses in Tennessee. Visit to register and learn about sponsorship opportunities.

Welcome Party

Attendees can kick off their NFDA Convention experience – and celebrate being back to in-person conventions – during the Welcome Party on Sunday, October 17. Included with registration, guests will enjoy live music, appetizers, a cash bar and mingling with their colleagues. Cowboy boots are recommended but not required. The Welcome Party is sponsored by and Batesville.

All-Star Recognition Ceremony

Celebrate the shining stars of funeral service during the All-Star Recognition Ceremony on Monday, October 18. NFDA will recognize firms that earned the 2021 NFDA Pursuit of Excellence Award or NFDA’s Green Funeral Practice Certificate. NFDA will also honor this year’s NFDA National Emerging Leaders Program participants; NFDA Certified Crematory Operators and Certified Cremation Services Providers; NFDA Certified Preplanning Consultants; the Funeral Service Foundation scholarship recipients; and APFSP’s Certified Funeral Service Practitioners. Convention attendees who have received one or more of these honors are invited to attend and be recognized with their peers (included with registration).

Service of Remembrance

Funeral professionals know that planning and attending a meaningful funeral can have a lasting and profoundly important impact on the lives of the families they serve. During the past year, funeral service professionals have continued to shepherd families through their darkest days and provide them with opportunities to grieve and heal. Attendees are invited to attend the 2021 Service of Remembrance on Tuesday, October 19 as NFDA honors the essential role of funeral directors in grief and healing and honor the lives of our funeral service family who died this past year (included with registration).

Funeral Directors Under 40 Party

Attendees of the Funeral Directors Under 40 Party on Tuesday, October 19 will experience one of the city’s unique hotspots, Nashville Underground. This exciting venue is located in the heart of downtown Nashville and is the home of the highest and largest double-deck rooftop on Broadway. The ticketed event includes an exclusive space on the rooftop bar for happy hour, two drink tickets and heavy hors d’oeuvres.

Closing Celebration

As the NFDA Convention comes to an end, attendees will gather one final time at the iconic live-music venue, Wildhorse Saloon, for the Closing Celebration. Attendees will enjoy a hosted bar, dinner, live music, line-dancing lessons, and more (tickets required).

Visiting Music City

Whether country, rock ‘n’ roll, classical, or pop, music has influenced nearly every aspect of Nashville and its people. But there is more to Nashville than music. The city’s restaurants and nightlife are coming back to life with eateries and clubs that range from casual to fine dining. Attendees can pick up a special souvenir from the distinctive boutiques that fill neighborhoods like East Nashville, 12South, and Hillsboro Village. From museums and art galleries to historic sites like The Hermitage, culture abounds in Nashville. Convention attendees can learn more about the lively city of Nashville by visiting

Apply for a Convention Scholarship

The Funeral Service Foundation will award up to 10 scholarships to qualified funeral directors to attend the NFDA Convention. Valued at up to $1,600, the scholarships are open to members and nonmembers and cover full convention registration fees, plus three nights of lodging at a convention hotel. (Scholarships do not cover travel.) Learn more and apply online by August 15,

Register and Make Hotel Reservations Today

There is so much waiting for attendees to discover at the 2021 NFDA International Convention & Expo. Attendees are encouraged to register on or before September 1 to take advantage of early-bird pricing. After September 1, prices will increase by $100.

Maritz Global Events is the official hotel provider for the 2021 NFDA International Convention & Expo. Maritz enables attendees to easily compare hotel prices and locations to find the accommodations that best meet their needs. All hotels in NFDA’s room block are less than a five-minute walk to the Music City Center. Maritz’s simple booking process – and friendly, helpful staff – will make finding accommodations and managing reservations a breeze.

The latest information, including information on how to register and make hotel reservations, is available at  

Health and Safety Measures

NFDA prioritizes the safety of its event attendees and will continue to monitor the status of the pandemic right up to and during the NFDA International Convention & Expo. NFDA is prepared to take whatever steps necessary, in accordance with current local, state, and national requirements and best practices, to keep attendees safe. As the convention nears, NFDA will share information with attendees about the specific measures it will take to protect their health and safety. 

Thank You

NFDA thanks its 2021 International Convention & Expo sponsors for their continued support: 

  • Black Diamond: Homesteaders Solutions
  • Platinum: Federated Insurance
  • Gold: Bass-Mollet, Batesville,, Positive Urns by Carver Dan, Security National Life
  • Silver: ASD – Answering Service for Directors, Everdays, Implant Recycling, Madelyn Company, Nomis Publications Inc., Physicians Mutual, Thumbies, Ultimate Canines
  • Bronze: C&J Financial, Disrupt Media, Doric, Express Funeral Funding, Inman Shipping

About NFDA

NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, with more than 20,000 individual members who represent more 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

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