Funeral Service Foundation Awards Two Arizona Funeral Directors the NFDA Professional Women’s Conference Scholarships

Brookfield, Wis. – The Funeral Service Foundation recently awarded nine academic scholarships and 10 NFDA Professional Women’s Conference Scholarships. The scholarships, totaling $35,000, are part of the Foundation ’45 Awards, which are designed to help funeral service professionals and students unlock their potential and take their careers to the next level.

In addition to academic scholarships and NFDA Professional Women’s Conference Scholarships, the Foundation ’45 Awards include NFDA’s Meet the Mentors program, student Arranger Training, and Career Development Awards.

“Education is a Foundation cornerstone,” said Foundation Executive Director Danelle O’Neill. “Three generations of funeral service professionals have benefited from our involvement in academic and continuing education.”

NFDA Professional Women’s Conference Scholarship Recipients

Ten women were awarded scholarships to attend the 2018 NFDA Professional Women’s Conference, which was held April 12-15 in Atlantic Beach, Fla. The women were selected based on their essay and video submissions, which addressed why they chose a career in the profession; the professional accomplishment of which they are most proud; a mentor who has helped shape their career; and reasons for wanting to participate in the conference.

“This year marks 20 years of Foundation support of the annual conference,” said O’Neill during a luncheon celebrating the 2018 winners. “Since 1998 nearly 140 women have received scholarships to attend the NFDA Professional Women’s Conference because our donors understand that this professional development opportunity enriches our profession and our communities.”

The 2018 NFDA Professional Women’s Conference Scholarships were made possible, in part, through the generosity of long-time Foundation donors Foundation Partners Group, Nomis Publications Inc. and Trigard. Scholarships covered the recipients’ conference registration fees, and provided a $1,000 travel and accommodation stipend. In addition, first-time Foundation donor Park Lawn Corporation sponsored the Foundation’s annual conference kick-off event.

The 2018 Professional Women’s Conference Scholarship recipients are:

  • Emily Doan, West Chester, Ohio
  • Ann Erdmann, Truman, Minn.
  • Nicole Evans, Wyoming, Ill.
  • Minda Kistner, Fayetteville, N.C.
  • Maria Mejia, Tempe, Ariz.
  • Claire Reinfurt, Watervliet, N.Y.
  • Angelique Simpson, Los Alamitos, Calif.
  • Dana Trull, Mooresville, N.C.
  • Kelly VanderLaan-Richmond, Middleville, Mich.
  • Angela Weger, Tempe, Ariz.

“I very much enjoyed learning valuable information from the many speakers, interacting and talking to other participants. Everyone has experiences to share and the ability to glean insight and opportunities to grow from them is an outstanding component to a conference like this. I had a great time and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend,” said Erdmann. “I am so thankful for the generous sponsors that saw the same value in the conference that I did.”

Next year’s conference is slated to take place April 12-14, 2019 in Annapolis, Md. Scholarship applications will be accepted online early next year.

Academic Scholarships

The Foundation’s scholarship committee, comprised of educators and funeral service professionals, awarded a total of $24,500 in scholarships to nine candidates whose essay and video submissions best highlighted their passion, drive and promise.

“Our most recent slate of scholarship winners notably listed compassion as a trait that will help them build a successful career as a funeral director,” said Scholarship Chair and Foundation Chair-elect Stephanie Kann. “We are honored to help these candidates offset the costs associated with earning a degree, and look forward to keeping in touch with them as they grow in their careers.”

Awarded twice a year, the Foundation offers up to 18 scholarships, ranging from $1,000-$5,000, to full- and part-time students pursuing a degree in mortuary science from ABFSE-accredited schools or, new this year, accredited Canadian schools.

Available scholarships include the Foundation ’45, Steve Lang (new this year) and Memorial Classic Scholarships, and the Shipley Rose Buckner, Joseph E. Hagan and Dennis Schoepp Memorial Scholarships. The Foundation also promotes the Brenda Renee Horn and Steve Mack Memorial Scholarships in partnership with the SCI National Scholarship Program.

The most recent academic scholarship winners are:

  • Dennis Schoepp Memorial Scholarship: Brooke Hassig, Warren, Mich. (Wayne State University, Detroit)
  • Foundation ’45 Academic Scholarships: Bethany Popieski, Pittsburgh, Pa. (Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, Pittsburgh); Kelsey Yantz, Bellevue, Ohio (Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, Cincinnati); Rebecca Steckley, Milverton, Ontario, Canada (Humber College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
  • Joseph E. Hagan Memorial Scholarship: Grace Mabiala, Bellevue, Ky. (Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, Cincinnati)
  • Memorial Classic Scholarships: Levi Elliott, Plymouth, Ind.  (Worsham College of Mortuary Science, Wheeling, Ill.); Chanda Jeffers, Owings Mills, Md. (Community College of Baltimore County, Baltimore)
  • Shipley Rose Buckner Memorial Scholarship: Vanessa Leon-Verde, Vermilion, Ohio (Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, Cincinnati)
  • Steve Lang Scholarship: Kati McCarron, Georgetown, Mass. (FINE Mortuary College, Norwood, Mass.)

“I am beyond honored to accept the first-ever Steve Lang scholarship. My education is a crucial tool in becoming the great funeral director I plan to be,” said McCarron. “As for my future career goals, I look forward to using my position to become a role model in my community and contributing positively to the public health and well-being of those I serve. Thank you a thousand times!”


“I am currently in the midst of completing my second year of study at Humber College. Exam dates are set and convocation plans have been made. The excitement is palpable among the students graduating,” said Steckley. “I am always looking for new ways to expand my knowledge of the field and grow in my ability. I am honoured to be your first-ever Canadian Foundation ‘45 scholarship winner and hope that my words will convey the heartfelt appreciation I feel for having been selected.”

The Foundation will accept its second cycle of academic scholarship applications from September 1 – November 30. Students enrolled in ABFSE-accredited institutions or accredited Canadian schools may apply online. Comprehensive submission instructions, award amounts, eligibility requirements and scholarship terms and guidelines are available at

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.