The Funeral Service Foundation’s Board of Trustees welcomed five new trustees and re-elected its executive committee at its meeting held during this week’s NFDA Virtual International Convention & Expo.
Voted onto the board in August, Lisa Baue, W. Ashley Cozine, John Heald, Timothy Schramm, and Thomas Pontone, began three-year terms as Foundation Trustees on October 19.
Funeral directors and allied professionals alike serve on the 18-member volunteer board and offer their expertise and insight to advance to Foundation’s mission of investing in people and programs to strengthen funeral service and lift up grieving communities.
“I am honored to serve as a Funeral Service Foundation trustee and support its mission, which has been part of our family’s legacy for more than four generations,” said Baue, Former President and CEO of Baue Funeral Homes in St. Charles, Missouri. “The Foundation’s top-notch educational tools and professional resources, along with its scholarships for students and licensees, are the key to our future success.”
Longtime Foundation supporters, the Baue family has been instrumental in developing and supporting continuing education programs. In 1986 Baue’s father, David C. Baue, helped found the Women in Funeral Service Education Program. (The program was offered by the National Foundation of Funeral Service – the name by which the Funeral Service Foundation was recognized from 1945 until 1997.) A licensed funeral director, Baue served as a Mentor in 2013 for NFDA’s Meet the Mentors program, which has been funded by the Funeral Service Foundation since its 2011 inception.
W. Ashley Cozine
“I am a strong advocate for giving back to our profession and serving on the Foundation Board is an ideal way to accomplish this goal,” said Cozine, President and Licensed Funeral Director with Cozine Memorial Group in Wichita, Kansas. “I look forward to helping educate funeral professionals about the important role that the Foundation plays within the profession and soliciting their support to ensure that this outstanding work continues.”
Cozine has supported the Foundation since 2012. In 2017, Cozine Memorial Group participated in the Foundation’s National Family History Month initiative, curated in partnership with NFDA. Cozine served as NFDA President in 2016-17.
“I am honored to be a part of such a distinguished group of professionals, past and present, who have served on this board for the betterment of funeral service,” says Heald, Senior Vice President – Channel Development of Legacy.com in Chicago, Illinois. “I will work hard to give back to a profession that gives so much to families, communities, and colleagues.”
This year marks five years that Legacy.com has backed the Foundation’s fall matching gift campaign. A licensed funeral director, Heald has served on the Foundation’s Fund Development Committee for the past two years.
“It is an honor and privilege to serve as a Funeral Service Foundation Trustee, representing funeral directors and vendors to the profession,” said Schramm, Owner and Licensed Funeral Director at Howe-Peterson Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Dearborn, Michigan. “I am proud to represent funeral service professionals who share a passion and commitment to investing in people and programs that strengthen funeral service today, and in the days to come.”
Schramm is a Mortuary Science Program Advisory Board Member for Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and has served on the Foundation’s Scholarship Committee since 2016.
“The Foundation has been important to both my family and to the Matthews corporate family for many years,” said Pontone, President of Matthews Aurora Funeral Solutions in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “It is a privilege and an honor to carry forward my family’s legacy and the Matthews Aurora Funeral Solutions legacy as a Foundation Trustee.”
The Pontone family provided a $250,000 lead gift in 2003 for the Foundation’s Hand-in-Hand endowment, which has nearly reached the $10 million mark this year. In 2020, multi-year major gift supporter, Matthews Aurora Funeral Solutions, gave $20,000 in support of the Foundation’s COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund.
“We’re delighted to welcome our newest Trustees,” said Anthony Guerra, who was re-elected as the Foundation’s 2020-21 Chair. “They bring with them immeasurable industry knowledge and immense passion for the Foundation’s important work.”
In addition to re-electing Guerra, Vice President of Guerra Gutierrez Mortuaries in Los Angeles, California, as 2020-21 Chair, the Board of Trustees re-elected Allan Cole, President and Owner, MacKinnon and Bowes in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, as Chair-elect. The Board also re-elected Eric Tanzberger, Senior Vice President and CFO, Service Corporation International in Houston, Texas, as Treasurer. Bob Arrington, Owner, Arrington Funeral Directors and Crematory in Jackson, Tennessee, continues his service as Immediate Past Chair.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was in the Foundation’s best interest to carry forward the strong leadership team for an additional term,” said Foundation Executive Director, Lee Wiensch, CFRE. “The Foundation has great projects on the horizon, and this executive committee will ensure the Foundation reaches new heights.”
Steve Gackenbach, Group President of Matthews Memorialization in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Bill Wappner, Co-owner of Wappner Funeral Directors & Crematory in Mansfield, Ohio, rotated off the board after six years of dedicated service to the Foundation. Brad Speaks, President & CEO of Speaks Chapels in Independence, Missouri also transitioned off of the board after three years of dedicated service.