Cultivating Emerging Leaders: Young Professionals and New Licensees Can Apply for NFDA Meet the Mentors Program

Brookfield, Wis. – The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) is now accepting entries for a chance to participate in the 2020 Meet the Mentors Program: Presented by the Funeral Service Foundation, March 8-10, 2020, at the Emory Conference Center Hotel, located on the campus of Emory University, in Atlanta, Ga. Meet the Mentors has been wholly-funded by the Funeral Service Foundation since the program’s 2011 inception.

During Meet the Mentors, 50 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. It’s also an opportunity to network and form relationships with other new professionals.

Three highly esteemed funeral professionals have been selected as the 2020 mentors:

Matt Bailey, CFSP, is a fourth-generation funeral director and the owner/operator of B.C. Bailey Funeral Home in Wallingford, Conn. He is a licensed funeral director and embalmer, Certified Celebrant, Certified Crematory Operator and Celebrant Trainer. Bailey is an advocate for funeral service who works to promote high professional standards and challenge the understanding of meaningful services. He has conducted trainings for NFDA and other national and state funeral director associations and has been published and quoted in The Director magazine and other national funeral service trade publications.

Amy Cunningham is a New York state licensed funeral director and the owner of Fitting Tribute Funeral Services in Brooklyn, which specializes in green burials, home funerals, cremation services and memorial events. In the process of helping families plan more meaningful funerals, she perceived the need for a website where people could better envision what’s possible when facing a death; something welcoming and factual that offers ceremony templates, readings and a digital obituary platform – this was the inspiration for With mortuary training from the American Academy McAllister Institute, and a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia, she is a certified celebrant and home funeral guide.

C. Lynn Gibson is a managing partner of Smith Life & Legacy Funeral Home in Maryville, Tenn., and the Vice President of Grandview Cemetery. He is also a licensed funeral director and a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner. His firm received NFDA’s Best of the Best Award in 2014. Gibson holds a Ph.D. in Practical Theology and Pastoral Care and a D. Phil. in Religion and Society. He currently serves as a Research Associate for Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

During Meet the Mentors, the mentors 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.

Last year’s mentees had high praise for the program noting: “Meet the Mentors was beyond my expectations”; “This experience was invaluable. I am grateful to have met the mentors, but especially to have met my peer group”; and “It was a phenomenal experience! The opportunity to meet some of the greatest minds of Funeral Service was very valuable!”

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 8; breakfast, lunch and dinner on March 9; and breakfast and lunch on March 10). The 50 individuals selected to attend only pay for their transportation to the program.

Nearly 600 young professionals and emerging leaders have benefited from the Meet the Mentors program, which underscores the Foundation’s mission to support funeral service in building meaningful relationships with the families and communities it serves. The program is part of the Foundation ‘45 Awards, which are designed to transform the careers of funeral service professionals through scholarships, awards, resources and mission-focused outreach.

The names of the 50 participants will be randomly drawn from among all who enter via the NFDA website, Entries will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. CST on

January 6, 2020. 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).

The names of the 50 participants will be drawn the week of January 20, 2020, from all entries received. The names of 10 attendees will be revealed every day, Monday through Friday, via the NFDA website and social media channels.

Complete details about the NFDA Meet the Mentors program, including all eligibility requirements and an event schedule, can be found on the NFDA website, Members can call NFDA at 800-228-6332 with questions.


About NFDA –

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

About the Funeral Service Foundation –

Since 1945, the Funeral Service Foundation has served as the profession’s philanthropic voice. As the charitable arm of the National Funeral Directors Association since 1997, the Foundation receives operational support from NFDA and donors across the profession to help advance its mission to support funeral service in building meaningful relationships with the families and the communities it serves.

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