Meet our Convention Speakers for Friday, June 7th

schaalSteve P. Schaal – President of the North America region for the Matthews Cremation (Division of Matthews International Corporation)

Steve Schaal represents over 20 years in the death care industry.  Steve is responsible for all aspects of operation at their headquarters in Orlando, Florida.  Steve’s career has successfully identified numerous products and services that are being utilized in today’s funeral environment.

Steve’s credentials include the successful rollout of the following national programs:

–       The York Merchandising System™ (YMS) – Fractional casket displays

–       MasterTouch™ Cremation Planning – Turn-key cremation merchandising/marketing

–       Faithful Forever™ – Pet loss Business Development.

–       Mourning Flowers™ – Funeral Home/Cemetery direct Fresh flower program

–       SecurIDyCremation (Body) tracking system.

–       Bio Cremation™  – Flameless cremation (aka Alkaline Hydrolysis)

Steve is an accomplished public speaker (NFDA, CANA, ICCFA, CCC and others), certified Crematory Operator educator and has written/published numerous industry articles on the subject of cremation.

The Funeral Birth of Alkali Hydrolysis – As cremation continues to expand at steady and predictable pace, its impact on the environment is being revisited worldwide. Cremation in North America has long been considered environmentally friendly but is there more we should consider in mandated regulations and voluntary actions? This presentation will study the evolution of environmental practices pertaining to cremation and offer ideas to improve emissions destruction, emissions capture and lastly, emissions prevention through an exciting new “flameless” process called Alkali Hydrolysis (aka Bio Cremation).  Together, we’ll review the Bio Cremation cycle, its effect on the environment and how this has become commercially adopted within the death care industry.  We’ll watch video taken during a recent Independent Consumer Research study on the subject and outline an exciting alternative for marketing enhanced “cremation green” services that resonate with today’s cremation consumer.


dan_cableDan Cable – EDA Land Planning

Dan Cable is a licensed Landscape Architect specializing in the design of cemeteries and cremation gardens.  He graduated from Utah State University in 1997 with a Bachelors of Landscape Architecture and a minor in Ornamental Horticulture.  Dan has over 16 years of experience working on hundreds of cemetery projects throughout the United States and Canada.  His work ranges from master planning large cemetery developments to designing small intimate spaces such as cremation gardens, one of his favorite types of projects.  Dan works for and is an owner at EDA Land Planning, a Salt Lake City-based landscape architectural design firm.

veseckyPeter Vesecky, PE, RLS – Vesecky Engineering & Surveying

Peter Vesecky is a licensed Professional Civil Engineer in Arizona and many other states, and he is a licensed Professional Land Surveyor in Arizona.  While Peter has experience on a broad range of project types, he has over 20 years’ experience in providing Civil Engineering services for the cemetery and mortuary industry. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, with a BS and MS in Civil Engineering.  Peter is experienced in strategic planning and exercises the “Quality Leadership” management style as president of his company, Vesecky Engineering and Surveying, based in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Together Dan and Peter will let you in on the top three secrets of Cemetery Master Planning, and as well as guide you through the Master Planning Process. Civil Engineering elements which need to be considered in Master Planning will be identified.  You will be shown examples of Master Plans and how they have been implemented.  Additionally, you will be shown examples where Civil Engineering has been utilized in Cemetery Master Plan Development.  This course will help you gain an understanding of why you need to plan for the future.


Commish_PhotoJudy Lowe – Arizona Real Estate Commissioner

Judy Lowe is the Commissioner of the Arizona Department of Real Estate. Involved in the state’s commercial, residential, land and relocation real estate industry for more than 30 years, Judy has served as president of both the Tucson Association of Realtors and the Arizona Association of Realtors. Working her way up from a real estate secretary, Judy received her first real estate license in 1980, became a broker in 1986, was co-owner of Coldwell Banker Success Realty by 1992 and followed this with ownership of Realty Executives Southern Arizona.  As State Commissioner, she has made it her goal to “raise the bar for all licensees in Arizona to more fully protect and serve the public.”


Ken_BennettKen Bennett – Arizona Secretary of State

Ken Bennett has served as Arizona’s Secretary of State since 2009.  His public service began in 1985 when he was elected to the Prescott City Council.  He later served on the State Board of Education for seven years and the State Board for Charter Schools for four years.

In 1998, he was elected to represent Legislative District 1 where he served eight years in the state Senate, the final four as Senate President before being term-limited from office.

During his career Secretary Bennett also worked in the private sector as CEO of Bennett Oil Company from 1985 to 2006.  He currently works with companies trying to develop alternative energy sources and energy saving building technologies.  He also serves on the board of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America hospital in Goodyear.

An Arizona native, Eagle Scout and ASU graduate, Mr. Bennett was born in Tucson, raised in Prescott, and currently resides in Phoenix with his wife, Jeanne.   They have three grown children – Ryan, Dana and Clif and two grandchildren McKay and Tanner.


IMG_1218 (2) - Picture - 4-3-13 (1)Toni Miller – Arizona Department of Health Services’ Office of Vital Records

Toni Miller is the Birth and Death Registry Manager for the Arizona Department of Health Services’ Office of Vital Records.  She has worked in state service for 24 years. Mrs. Miller started her career in state service in 1989 with the Arizona Department of Economic Security’s JOBS Administration where she worked for 6 years.  In 1996, she was hired by the Arizona Department of Health Services and has been with the department for 18 years, nine of which have been working at the Office of Vital Records.


DSC_0075George Owens – Service Corporation International (SCI)

George Owens is the Managing Director of Customer Engagement at Service Corporation International (SCI), the industry’s largest operator of Funeral Homes and Cemeteries.  Since joining SCI in 2007, he has been responsible for enhancing the company’s brand identity and designing and implementing programs that help highlight customer satisfaction and opportunities to maximize customer engagement, support new product development and customer segmentation.

Prior to joining SCI, George was a director in the Emerging Industries Practice at J.D. Power and Associates.  There, he was responsible for managing major syndicated and proprietary research programs during a 12-year career.  Additionally, he led the design and execution of customer satisfaction and loyalty programs for a variety of clients and led certification efforts in both automotive and emerging industries.

Mr. Owens received a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Northridge,  and an MBA from Pepperdine University.


Dr. Jeffrey S. Johnston, M.D. – Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner

Dr. Jeffrey Johnston brings to us years of experience in the Medical Examiners office as well as teaching in Pathology. He serves as the Medical Examiner for Maricopa County since 2008. His career began in 2002 in Knoxville, TN where he assisted on cases with the Knox County Medical Examiners Office. Followed by becoming an  Associate Medical Examiner (Fellow) in 2005 with the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Dr. Johnston also spends time teaching students the intricate details of pathology, most recently as a clinical assistant professor  for the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Pathology Department; before that as the Forensic Pathologist and Assistant Professor of Pathology at  University of Tennessee Medical Center at Knoxville.

He received his Bacholar of Arts in Biology from the University of Virgina and his Medical Doctorate from the University of Louisville, School of Medicine.

Dr. Johnston’s presentation at this year’s convention will fulfill the necessary 3 CEUs in category C, or your technical hours.