2015 AFCCA Convention Speakers

Gober 2015

Douglas R. Gober

Upping Your Game: What to Do When the Competition Levels the Playing

Speaking Wednesday, June 3 at 9:00 AM 


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You worked your tail off to create a marketable difference for your business and blazed a trail in your market. Now everyone in town is doing tribute videos, personalizing memorial folders and taking condolences from their websites. What’s next? How can we take control of this crucial opportunity and make a real difference, both for families and for our businesses?

Gober will pull together a variety of key content examples and examine how they are applied directly to funeral homes. He will evaluate the three sources of ceremony content and then delve into how each of these impacts the likelihood of a memorable event.[/su_spoiler]

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Doug Gober began his funeral service career thirty-six years ago as a sales representative in the casket industry. He has earned numerous national awards from various organizations within the death care industry. Doug also served as a consultant on various marketing and merchandising projects conducted on an international scale.

In 1995, Doug joined The Doody Group as Executive Vice President. Working in the United Kingdom and France, Doug successfully directed the European operations for the company. He has been instrumental in planning and implementing a number of innovative merchandising concepts and products created by The Doody Group, Matthews International and other leading manufacturers. Doug was a pioneer in developing the York Merchandising SystemsTM, which is now being offered in more than 6,000 funeral homes in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. He has also presented marketing and merchandising seminars to industry professionals worldwide.

In 2011, Doug joined Carriage Services, Inc. as the Director of Development and Marketing. Doug identified, developed and led the execution and implementation of Carriage’s strategic planning initiatives. Doug and his staff developed internal and external training programs to improve the service and merchandise offerings of Carriage.

In 2012, Doug joined Live Oak Bank based in Wilmington, North Carolina. Live Oak Bank lends money to small businesses in select industries, one of which is death care management. As a result of his extensive experience in funeral service, accounting and finance, Doug served as an industry liaison and Senior Loan Officer, connecting those in death care management with the opportunity of financing.

In September 2014, Doug formed Gober Strategic Capital as a way to broaden the range of counsel and resources he could bring to death care businesses. In addition to helping arrange financing through Live Oak Bank, he can help business owners make the most of their strategic and market opportunities.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Doug graduated from the University of Alabama in 1977, where he earned a Business Degree in Accounting. Subsequently, he became a Certified Public Accountant specializing in industrial audits and corporate taxes.

Doug is married to Victoria Amato and is based in New Orleans. He is the father of four children and has four grandchildren.


©Blue Moon Studio, Inc.

Katy Prange

The Most Important Family You Will Serve – Your Own

Speaking Wednesday, June 3 at 11:00 AM 


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Life With A Funeral Director Founder Katy Prange provides insights and advice for ways funeral directors can improve their own quality of life and strengthen their personal relationships while serving others.

From managing an on-call schedule to transporting kids with no back seats to telling relatives why you won’t be at Christmas dinner…again, life with a funeral director is different. It’s weird. It’s tough. It’s unique.

Attendees will learn strategies to strengthen their relationships, plan ahead, get on the same page and live positive, full lives while serving others.[/su_spoiler]

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Katy Prange is married to Michael, her funeral director, and lives in south central Wisconsin with their two girls. Katy launched <a href=”http://www.lifewithafuneraldirector.com/” target=”_blank”>www.lifewithafuneraldirector.com</a> in 2011 to provide support, solace and community for other women and men who shared her life experience. Since 2011, Katy has written a regular blog for the community, hosted a forum on Facebook and worked one-on-one with others who share life with a funeral director.

Beyond the community, Katy is the founder of Blue Sky Virtual Assistance, LLC which provides strategic project planning and support for small businesses. She is also a Legislative Aide to a State Senator and an incessant writer. When she’s not writing in her treehouse office or working on a myriad of projects, Katy is cooking, reading or outside somewhere, likely by a lake with her family.

The Life With A Funeral Director community is the only spouse-support organization for Funeral Director’s families. The community has been steadily, quietly growing for more than three years and recently released a book – “Lessons for Life With A Funeral Director: Strategies to Strengthen Your Relationships &amp; Inspiration to Transform Your Life.”

In addition to sharing tips and strategies with Funeral Directors, I would be willing to hostess a spouse cocktail reception or afternoon tea to help spouses connect, feel included and strengthen their relationships. I am a skilled hostess and would be thrilled to offer this unique option to your convention. I think it could be a draw for members to bring spouses and grow participation.[/su_spoiler]

0420-vet_cemetary_internment-levyJoe Larson

Arizona State Veteran Cemetery Program

Speaking Wednesday, June 3 at 2:00 PM 


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The Arizona Department of Veterans Services has started construction on two more State Veteran’s cemetery in 2015. Those cemeteries will be located in Marana and Camp Navajo which is just south of Flagstaff. These cemeteries will come online in 2016 and will provide 3 state veterans cemeteries state wide.

This presentation will inform the audience about the eligibility, VA entitlements, application process, prearrangements, and pass out the funeral directors guide to his processes.[/su_spoiler]

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Joe Larson has been working with as the Cemetery Administrator for the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services since Aug 2006. He retired from Federal Law Enforcement as Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer in Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. His primary mission was resource protection and drug interdiction at the US and Mexican international boundary.

Prior to that Joe started the Law Enforcement Program in Kauai Hawaii; worked as a Law Enforcement Ranger for the National Park Service At Coronado National Memorial. The primary focus with drug and alien interdiction.

Joe also worked for the US Border Patrol in Douglas Arizona as an Immigration Office; he worked in the Federal Bureau of Prisons as a Senior Correctional Officer.

1984 to 2000 Joe Larson served in the US Army National at the rank of Sergeant as a 19D Cavalry Scout. He was deployed to Iraqi for operation desert shield/storm during 1990/1991.

Joe Larson is a 3rd generation of military veteran who has served in combat. His daughter is the 4th and currently serving in the US Army.

Joe currently serves as the Veterans of Foreign Wars Senior Vice Commander for District 7 which is South Eastern Arizona. He has recently been ask to sit on the Board of Directors for the South Eastern Work Force as a veterans representative.[/su_spoiler]

KyleKaspari-HeadshotKyle Kaspari

Tissue Donation

Speaking Thursday, June 4 at 10:00 AM 


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This presentation will discuss donation, it’s benefits to recipients as well as to donor families in their healing process. Then, of course, the role and difficulties donation plays in funeral services and what DNA tries to do to assist with these.[/su_spoiler]

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Kyle Kaspari is the Partner Relations Coordinator for Donor Network of Arizona. He attended Arizona State University where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication.

Kyle works with many organizations that interact with Donor Network and his main role is to serve as a liaison for funeral homes. He has worked for Donor Network of Arizona for 5 years as a Tissue Recovery Coordinator recovering tissue for transplantation and is a Certified Tissue Banking Specialist through the American Association of Tissue Banks. Kyle assumed his current role in November of 2014 and has since been working to improve communication and relations with funeral homes across the state.

Kyle is very passionate about his work in donation and is constantly looking for ways to better meet the needs of the organizations that are impacted by Donor Network of Arizona’s mission to “Make the most of life through the gift of organ and tissue donation”.[/su_spoiler]

Marcel-HeadshotMarcel Pincince

Tissue Donation

Speaking Thursday, June 4 at 10:30 AM 


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This presentation will discuss donation, it’s benefits to recipients as well as to donor families in their healing process. Then, of course, the role and difficulties donation plays in funeral services and what DNA tries to do to assist with these.[/su_spoiler]

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Marcel received his undergraduate degree in Liberal Arts from Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island, and his graduate degree in theology and pastoral care from the Gregorian University and the North American College in Rome, Italy.  He served in parish ministry for ten years before beginning work his in vocations and becoming rector of the college seminary program.  He began working for Donor Network of Arizona in 1998 establishing their Donor Family aftercare program.

Presently, he serves as the Director of Donor Family and Advocate Services guiding the Donation and Family Advocates in donation conversations.  The present focus of his work and study is decision making and meaningful conversation with families in times of emotional crisis and trauma.  Marcel has worked across the United States with over 30 Organ Procurement Organizations communicating about best practices in communication and donation conversations.  In 2012 he was awarded the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation’s award for Donor Care for his work in donation with donor families.[/su_spoiler]

day_headshot_finalDavid Yearsley

The Mausoleum Checklist: Smarter Planning and Care

Speaking Thursday, June 4 at 11:00 AM 


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In light of the increase in cremation and the prevalence of mausoleum buildings with niches, mausoleum care has never been more important. The important of preventive planning is essential for mausoleums. The smart mausoleum manager establishes best practices in order to be prepared for every possible scenario. In a comprehensive presentation focusing on mausoleum care, David A. Yearsley will give cemetery owners and managers, funeral directors, and sales managers the tools they need to successfully handle mausoleum entombments. David will share his insight into best practices for those involved with mausoleums. Legal concerns, warranties, cemetery rules and regulations, and how to assist families with selection will be addressed.

Topics covered will include:

  • Mausoleum concerns for the 21st century
  • Difference in construction styles – poured in place versus pre-cast
  • The different maintenance concerns for indoor and outdoor buildings
  • How to determine the preventative requirements for your building
  • Proper documentation for entombments
  • Employee concerns, such as OSHA training and documentation
  • Planning for the unexpected – removals, temporary entombments, and incidents
  • Tips for explaining the benefits of mausoleum entombment
  • Addressing consumer concerns
  • How to implement a plan for checking on the entombment environment and periodic preventative maintenance

Each attendee will leave with:

  • A worksheet outlining the intricacies of mausoleum entombments
  • A checklist to follow when establishing protocols for mausoleum entombments
  • A list of recommended policies and procedures for the perpetual care of your mausoleum


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David Yearsley has been involved with the cemetery and funeral industry for over 40 years. After managing a burial vault company, David revolutionized the industry with his compact Casket Protector. He is the author of four patents in the United States and Canada. In addition to his mausoleum consulting work, David has served as an expert witness in multiple cases involving failures in mausoleum maintenance. He has developed comprehensive policies and procedures for cemetery owners and excels at preventative care for mausoleums.[/su_spoiler]

Jzyk EnnisJzyk Ennis

Embalming Standards of Care

Speaking Thursday, June 4 at 1:00 PM 


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While the funeral service profession is an ever changing workplace, there are certain core standards, known as Standards of Care, which remain unchanged. These standards are taught in mortuary colleges across the country; however, they are ones that must be reminded to seasoned embalmers, supervisors, managers, and owners over the course of their careers. It is of the utmost importance that licensed embalmers and funeral homes revisit these core principles to ensure that the highest quality of care is provided to families who select and pay for the embalmer’s services.

This seminar is focused on embalmers in all levels of experience within the profession – current embalmer’s apprentices, newly licensed individuals, and seasoned embalmers. Supervisors, managers, and owners are also encouraged to attend to ensure a unified education and message and to ensure that standards of care are in place and following in the normal operation of the funeral home. Because these topics are directly related to many consumer complaints of poor or negligent embalming, the following will be discussed during the seminar:

  • The three purposes for embalming – preservation, sanitation, presentation
  • What is a standard of care? For the funeral profession, what is our standard of care?

Basic established and documented standards:

  • Volume of solution relative to body weight and body conditions
  • Minimum standards arterial solution dilution (% index)
  • Use of and documentation of embalming case reports
  • Use of universal precautions (PPE)
  • Use of environmental controls to limit exposure to formaldehyde

Proper embalming according to the Standard of Care for the following cases: (includes arterial/vascular vessel selection, proper index and fluid dilution, use of humectants, injection and drainage techniques, and the restricted cervical injection):

  • The “normal” un-autopsied case
  • Autopsy cases and organ/tissue donation cases
  • Edema cases
  • Dehydrated cases
  • Jaundice cases


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Jzyk (Jay-zick) S. Ennis: A.A.S., Jefferson State Community College (Funeral Service Education); B.S., Auburn University (Business Administration); M.P.A. (Public Administration), University of Alabama at Birmingham. Currently enrolled at Auburn University pursuing his Ph.D. in Adult Education.

Instructor, Funeral Service Education Program, Jefferson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama – Current courses taught: Embalming I and II, Management I and II, History/Funeral Directing, Psychology/Sociology, and the embalming laboratory. Formerly taught the Mortuary Law and Business Law courses for ten years.

Currently serves as Secretary/Treasurer of the American Board of Funeral Service Education and is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association’s (NFDA) Spokesperson Team; 2009-2011 At-Large Representative to the Executive Board of NFDA; Alabama’s 2007-2009 Policy Board Representative to NFDA; 2007-2008 Professional Development Committee member for the NFDA.

2007-2008 President of the Alabama Funeral Directors Association and 2012-2014 President/Chair of the College and University Council of the American Board of Funeral Service Education. Honorary member of the Maine Funeral Directors Association.

Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer in the states of Alabama and Georgia, expert witness in funeral-related litigation and a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP) with the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice (APFSP).

Published numerous articles in national and state publications such as The Director Magazine; presenter of educational seminars and programs; and, was the 1992 Outstanding Student in Funeral Service Education, Jefferson State Community College.

Member of the Pi Alpha Alpha National Honor Society and the First Baptist Church of Trussville (Trussville, Alabama). Married to Sherrie L. Ennis; two children, Jzyk S. Ennis, II and Brooke Ennis.[/su_spoiler]