Funeral Service Foundation Welcomes Four New Trustees and Elects its 2023-24 Executive Committee
Brookfield, Wis. – The Funeral Service Foundation’s Board of Trustees welcomed four new trustees and elected its 2023-24 Executive Committee during its Annual Meeting, held last month during the NFDA International Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Funeral directors and allied professionals serve together on the volunteer board and offer their expertise and insight to advance the Foundation’s mission. The mission itself was updated at the meeting in a subtle way to foreground the importance of why the Foundation exists: to lift up grieving communities by investing in people and programs that strengthen funeral service.
The Foundation continues to offer scholarships throughout the United States and Canada, grants and partnership opportunities, and professional resources.
Voted onto the board in June, Bryant Hightower, Kathy Kelley, Jimmy Lucas, and Carmalita March-Harris began the first of two three-year terms on September 9.
“Joining the Funeral Service Foundation is an opportunity to help enrich funeral service as we move forward and to help position funeral service for challenges it may face in the future. I am excited to be a part of it and for the partnerships and outreach that are possible,” said Bryant Hightower, funeral director at Hightower Family Funeral Homes in Carrollton, Georgia. “From my father’s training at the National Foundation of Funeral Service (now the Funeral Service Foundation), which he has continued to say was the best funeral service education he ever received, to my own first-hand experience of seeing the great work of the Foundation during my time on the NFDA Board, I really believe that the sky is the limit when it comes to the Funeral Service Foundation.”
“The Funeral Service Foundation is a remarkable organization, and I am honored to have been chosen as a new trustee. I have learned how impactful this group is with offering scholarships, promoting funeral service and addressing community needs in crisis situations. I hope to be able to use my talents and outreach to continue to expand these important programs,” said Kathy Kelley, treasurer and family member owner of ASD – Answering Service for Directors. “In the three decades I have been involved with the funeral profession, the wonderful people working in this line of work never cease to amaze me. To be able to promote and enhance this outstanding and crucial vocation is a privilege.”
“I am so excited to be one of the newest Trustees of the Funeral Service Foundation. Having had the opportunity to serve on many boards within funeral service, this opportunity is unique and rewarding for its investment into the future of funeral service,” said Jimmy Lucas, funeral director and owner of Lucas Funeral Homes in Hurst, Texas. “It is truly my honor to serve alongside so many amazing leaders that have a desire to donate their time, talent, and passion to better the profession. As a sixth-generation funeral service professional, supporting the Foundation is the best way for all of us to support the next generation of funeral service professionals.”
“As a third-generation funeral director, part of the foundation in which I was raised centered around living a life of purpose with a dedicated focus on community service and caring for people in a time of need. The literal mission of the Funeral Service Foundation is to lift up grieving communities by investing in people and programs that strengthen funeral service,” said Carmalita March-Harris, funeral director and co-owner at March Funeral Homes. “I am humbled to be a part of an organization that allows me to effectively fulfill my purpose and passion and honored to work with a powerful group of accomplished professionals. Our kindred passion for service, matched with a wealth of knowledge and resources make for a team ready to make an impact. I’m beyond excited for what we will do next!”
Foundation chair Mark Krause addressing NFDA General Session in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In addition to welcoming the four new trustees, the Foundation’s board welcomed its new Executive Committee. Mark Krause, president of Krause Funeral and Cremation Services in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, began his one-year term as the Foundation’s Chair. Krause was elected to the Funeral Service Foundation Board of Trustees in 2018 and served as the 2022-23 Chair-elect.
“I’m honored to serve this next year as board chair to the foundation and to continue the exceptional work of my colleagues and predecessors,” said Krause. “I am thankful for our dedicated board and committee members, from past and present, who ensure that the foundation continues to make an impact in funeral service and in the communities we serve.”
The board also elected John Heald, general manager funeral home channel at Legacy.com, as Chair-elect, and re-elected David Falconer, senior vice president and funeral and cemetery trust manager for Regions Bank, as Treasurer.
Lisa Baue, former president and owner of Baue Funeral Homes, Cemetery, and Crematory in St. Charles, Missouri, and owner of Your Funeral Coach, and Christopher Robinson, vice president and general manager of Robinson Funeral Home in Easley, South Carolina, will continue their service on the Executive Committee as Immediate Past Chair and NFDA Liaison, respectively.
Bob Arrington, president of Arrington Funeral Directors in Jackson, Tennessee; and Allan Cole, president and owner of MacKinnon & Bowes in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, transitioned off the board after six years of dedicated service. They were honored with the Emeritus Trustee distinction in recognition of their service to the Funeral Service Foundation.
2023-24 Funeral Service Foundation Board of Trustees
Bottom Row L-R: Tim Schramm, Carmalita March-Harris, NFDA Liaison Chris Robinson, Treasurer David Falconer, Chair Mark Krause, Immediate Past Chair Lisa Baue, Chair-elect John Heald, Beth Kmiec, Jeff Smith, Will Bischoff
Top Row L-R: Todd Lumbard, NFDA CEO Christine Pepper, Bryant Hightower, Jimmy Lucas, Thomas Pontone, David Hernández, Jr., Jenn Parvin, Matt Outcalt, John Faulk, W. Ashley Cozine