Brookfield, Wis. – The Funeral Service Foundation has granted nearly $135,000 in academic and professional development scholarships and opportunities in 2019, and is on track to award an additional $61,000 by the end of the year.

The scholarships are part of the Foundation ’45 Awards, which is the Foundation’s collection of scholarships and opportunities designed to help funeral service professionals and students unlock their potential and take their careers to the next level.

So far this year, the Foundation has awarded eight academic scholarships, 11 National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) Professional Women’s Conference Scholarships and 50 Career Development Awards. Additionally, the Foundation ’45 Awards funded NFDA’s Meet the Mentors program, four student arranger training seminars, and, new this year, will fund up to 10 scholarships to attend the NFDA International Convention & Expo in Chicago in October.

“Offering educational opportunities to all of funeral service underscores the Foundation’s roots,” said Foundation Chair Bob Arrington. “We have supported funeral service professionals in their educational pursuits for three generations because our donors understand that lifelong learning helps our profession better serve families and communities.”

NFDA Professional Women’s Conference Scholarships
Eleven women were awarded scholarships to attend the 2019 NFDA Professional Women’s Conference, which was held in Annapolis, Md., in April. Scholarships covered recipients’ conference registration fees, overnight accommodations, and provided a $500 travel and accommodation stipend. The women were selected based on their essay and video submissions, which included discussing how they explain the value of a funeral to a family, describing the qualities that make them excellent funeral service professionals, and writing their own obituaries.

“Their stories drive our work and that’s why the Foundation has been supporting the Professional Women’s Conference since the very beginning,” said Foundation Director of Communication Kelly Manion during a luncheon celebrating the 2019 winners. During the luncheon, Manion also thanked long-time Foundation donor, Nomis Publications, whose support, in part, made the scholarships possible.

The 2019 Professional Women’s Conference Scholarship Recipients are:

  • Christine Banks, Caldwell & Cowan Funeral, Covington, Ga.
  • Cecilia Clement, Dallas Institute of Funeral Service, Dallas, Texas
  • Angela Clough, Hoffman Funeral Home & Crematory, Carlisle, Pa.
  • Amanda Dalton, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Mesa, Ariz.
  • Nikole Dunlop, Tubman Funeral Homes, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Jill Lazar, Hoffman Funeral Home and Crematory, Carlisle, Pa.
  • Allyse Leitsch, Joseph E. Ratterman & Son Funeral Home, Louisville, Ky.
  • Elaine Main, Ahlberg Funeral Chapel, Longmont, Colo.
  • Natalie Proulx, Facing the Sun Inc., Welland, Ontario, Canada
  • Lexi Taylor, St. Pierre Funeral Benefits Corporation, Greenwood, Ind.
  • Cassandra Webster, Radney Funeral Home, Alexander City, Ala.

“The variety of speakers at the NFDA professional women’s conference kept me engaged and exited for every learning opportunity,” said Lazar. “Hats off to the Funeral Service Foundation for providing opportunities for students and professionals within the funeral profession to not only gain useful tools of the trade but to meet other funeral professionals creating meaningful relationships! Thank you again for this memorable experience!”

Next year’s conference will take place April 24-26 in Miami Beach, Fla. Applications will be accepted in early 2020.

Academic Scholarships
Eight students pursuing degrees from ABFSE-accredited institutions or accredited Canadian schools were awarded academic scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $5,000. Open to full- and part-time students, the scholarships are applied to tuition, fees, books and supplies. This group of student leaders shares a unified goal of making a positive impact in the funeral service profession and serving families with care and compassion.

The Foundation received dozens of applications from across the United States and Canada. The Foundation’s scholarship committee, comprised of educators and funeral service professionals, awarded the scholarships to those candidates whose essays and videos best highlighted passion, drive and promise.

“One theme that really stood out time and again, was the importance of truly listening to a family, and how in doing so, a funeral director can find memorable and healing ways to help a family personalize a funeral or memorialization,” said Manion. “Each recipient shared thoughtful insights and showed a deep commitment to the profession.”

Available scholarships include the Foundation ’45, Steve Lang and Memorial Classic Scholarships, and the Shipley Rose Buckner, Joseph E. Hagan and Dennis Schoepp Memorial Scholarships.

The most recent academic scholarship winners are:

Dennis Schoepp Memorial Scholarship: Stephanie Hein, Forsyth, Mont. (Arapahoe Community College, Littleton, Colo.)

Foundation ’45 Academic Scholarships: Leanne Correia, Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada (Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta, Canada); Adam Grisier, Archbold, Ohio (Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, Cincinnati, Ohio); Elizabeth Oates, Magna, Utah (Salt Lake Community College, Salt Lake City, Utah)

Joseph E. Hagan Memorial Scholarship: Bailey Wolf, Oconto Falls, Wis. (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Minneapolis, Minn.)

Memorial Classic Scholarships: Samantha Bone, Detroit, Mich. (Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich.); Joseph Carrier, Youngstown, Ohio (Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science, Pittsburgh, Pa.)

Shipley Rose Buckner Memorial Scholarship: Rachel Fast, Mannford, Okla. (University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Okla.)

Steve Lang Scholarship: Ariell Milner, Norwood, Ohio (Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, Cincinnati, Ohio)

“As I become a fourth generation Oklahoma funeral director, I’m proud to carry on my family’s legacy,” said Fast. “I’m honored to be able to serve my community with love, compassion, respect and dignity. I would like to express my sincere gratitude for this scholarship. It will serve as a tremendous financial support as I enter my last semester of school.”

“The Foundation is honored to invest in the education of these student leaders, recognizing that many others, including family, friends, mentors and educators, have worked to help them reach their potential,” said Arrington.

Additionally, Bailey Wolf and Jordan Bennett (Ivy Tech Community College, Indianapolis, Ind.) were recipients of the Brenda Renee Horn and Steve Mack Memorial Scholarships, respectively, which the Foundation promotes in partnership with the SCI National Scholarship Program.

The Foundation will accept its second cycle of academic scholarship applications from August 15 through November 1. 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

Career Development Awards
Available to all licensed funeral directors looking to continue their education, Career Development Awards cover the registration fees for NFDA training and certification seminars. The award recipients are drawn at random several times throughout the year by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, and new this year, during select NFDA conventions and conferences. Those interested may simply submit their name and license number online. Additional winners will be selected in October.

This year’s winners include:

  • Lorna Agusto, Granby’s Funeral Service, Bronx, N.Y.
  • Emily Ahern, Vincent Funeral Home, Simsbury, Conn.
  • Erika Baltazar, Martin Funeral Home East, El Paso, Texas
  • Christine Banks, Caldwell & Cowan Funeral Home, Covington, Ga.
  • Brianna Bennett, O’Donnell Funeral & Cremation Service, Danvers, Mass.
  • Kaylinn Bezenar, Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service, North Chesterfield, Va.
  • Sabrina Blackston, Eternal Hills Funeral Home, Snellville, Ga.
  • Bernard Buggs Jr., Cornerstone Funeral Services & Cremations, Birmingham, Ala.
  • Frank Cagnina Jr., Northville Funeral Home, Northville, N.Y.
  • Sherri Collins-Witzke, Harry H. Witzke’s Family Funeral Home, Ellicott City, Md.
  • Bobby Conway, Roller-Owens Funeral Home, North Little Rock, Ark.
  • Jody Cooley, Sutfin Funeral Chapel, Nichols, N.Y.
  • Brittani Crisp, A.H. Peters Funeral Home, Warren, Mich.
  • Danielle Daugherty, Right Choice Cremation, Brandon, Fla.
  • Nikole Dunlop, Tubman Funeral Home-Westboro Chapel, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Rachel Furman, Brunswick Memorial Home, East Brunswick, N.J.
  • Paige Gaikowski, Scott Funeral Home, Jeffersonville, Ind.
  • Felicia Gainey, The Neptune Society, Spokane, Wash.
  • Nicole Gensler, Cress Funeral & Cremation Service, Madison, Wis.
  • Yoshanda Glazebrooks, Crown Hill Funeral Home, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Winston Grannis, Boone-Nickell Funeral Home, Flemingsburg, Ky.
  • Amanda Hall, Legacy Funeral Home, Fairbanks, Ark.
  • Jessica Harston, East Lawn Mortuary, Sacramento, Calif.
  • Ann-Marie Kieffer, Alexander Funeral Homes, Evansville, Ind.
  • Jeff Koopman, Hays Funeral Home, Northborough, Mass.
  • Randy Lankford, Woodlawn Life Celebration Centre, Seymour, Ind.
  • Monica Lassiter, Gilmore Memorial Funeral Service Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C.
  • Jill Lazar, Hoffman Funeral Home, Carlisle, Pa.
  • Allyse Leitsch, Joseph E. Ratterman & Son Funeral Home, Louisville, Ky.
  • Clifford Lynch, Iovanne Funeral Home Inc., New Haven, Conn.
  • Stephen Lyon, Legacy Funeral Group, Houston, Texas
  • Elaine Main, Ahlberg Funeral Chapel and Crematory, Longmont, Colo.
  • Allie McClain, Ford-Stewart Funeral Home, Jonesboro, Ga.
  • Michael Murnane, Mt. Sinai Memorial Chapels, East Brunswick, N.J.
  • Meg Nagel, Beatty & Peterseim Funeral Home, Kalona, Iowa
  • Alex Nolan, Reeves & Baskerville Funeral Homes, Coal City, Ill.
  • Ned Nordgren, Wasatch Lawn Mortuary, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Natalie Proulx, Facing the Sun Inc., Welland, Ontario, Canada
  • Christy Ramirez, Chattanooga Funeral Home North, Hixson, Tenn.
  • Brandi Reed, Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home, Hamburg, N.Y.
  • Claire Reinfurt, Parker Bros. Memorial Funeral Home, Watervliet, N.Y.
  • Arianna Rule, Mt. Sinai Memorial Chapels, East Brunswick, N.J.
  • Mark Sherfy, Kassly Mortuary, Fairview Heights, Ill.
  • Lexi Taylor, Wilson St. Pierre Funeral Service & Crematory, Greenwood, Ind.
  • Electa Thompkins, Air Force Mortuary Affairs, Dover Airforce Base, Del.
  • Monica Usiak, J.F. Rice Funeral Home Inc., Johnson City, N.Y.
  • Jacqueline S. Wade, Hutchinson Funeral Chapel & Crematory, Hutchinson, Kan.
  • Shane Williams, Loose Funeral Homes, Anderson, Ind.
  • Lisa Wright, Shannon Funeral Service, Shelbyville, Ky.
  • Daniel Wright, Wright & Ford Family Funeral Home, Flemington, N.J.

“The appreciation and enthusiasm of Career Development Award recipients is evident when they attend NFDA’s Arranger Training Program. Providing these opportunities for continuous improvement will ensure that funeral service professionals stay relevant and up-to-date,” said Lacy Robinson, director of member development for NFDA. “Thank you to all Funeral Service Foundation donors for their generous contributions. Your commitment has made a real difference in the lives of funeral directors.”

For the third year in a row, the Foundation also underwrote four NFDA Student Arranger Training Programs. This year’s recipients were Arapahoe Community College, East Mississippi Community College, Community College of Baltimore County and Milwaukee Area Technical College.

NFDA Convention & Expo Scholarships
The Foundation is on track to award 10 scholarships for licensed funeral directors to attend the 2019 NFDA International Convention & Expo in Chicago, October 27-30, 2019. Scholarships cover registration and event fees, and three nights standard accommodation in a convention hotel. The application deadline is August 1. Full submission details can be found online.