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2015 NFDA Advocacy Summit Speaker Biographies

Jeff Beatty

Alysia Wheeler English

Jack E. Lechner, Jr.

David Patterson, CFSP

W. Scott Smith

Deborah S. Skillman

Kimberly M. Wright


Jeff Beatty

Bio coming soon!

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Alysia Wheeler English


Alysia Wheeler English is in her ninth year as the Executive Director and Lobbyist for Georgia Funeral Directors Association. In this position, English manages all aspects of business, strategic and operational planning for the largest and oldest funeral service business league in Georgia, working with licensees, vendors, regulatory, emergency response, Public Health, hospitals, the General Assembly, the public and affiliated associations. She coordinates all legislative activities for the Association.

 

Prior to joining GFDA, Alysia was director of business development and national media liaison for TotalSecurity.US, a nationally known counter-terrorism consulting firm, working daily with national media CNN, FOX, CBS, ABC, and local and regional media. Duties included development and implementation support for transportation industry live training exercises: airports, airlines, bus, heavy and light rail. Various locations included training for first responders, FBI, local fire, police, counter-terrorism officers, and port authorities from throughout the US.

 

Her background also includes health care management, high-tech, telecommunications, membership organizations, Wall Street and non-profits, interfacing with all levels of internal and external audiences and controlling budgets in excess of $3 million.

English is a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy, Atlanta, GA; a 23-year member of Kiwanis International, a founding board member of A School Bell Rings, an international education charity that builds schools around the world, a member of the leadership program for N. Fulton County Chamber of Commerce, and a variety of professional and business associations. English graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Kentucky.

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Jack E. Lechner, Jr.

Jack E. Lechner, Jr. is the superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the cemetery.

Mr. Lechner has served at Arlington since June 2010 as both a colonel in the U.S. Army and as a civilian. He most recently served as the deputy superintendent for cemetery operations. He has also held positions as the cemetery administrator and as an executive officer.

He came to Arlington from the Joint Staff, Pentagon, where he was responsible for the Joint Supply Chain Architecture and equipping the Iraq and Afghanistan National Security Forces. Prior to his arrival on the Joint Staff, Mr. Lechner was the Chief of Staff for the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) headquartered in Balad, Iraq. This 650-Soldier headquarters and its seven brigades of 20,000 Soldiers were responsible for all logistical support in Iraq.

Mr. Lechner earned an associate degree and mortuary science certificate from Mercer County Community College and became a licensed Practitioner of Mortuary Science in New Jersey where he was the co-founder and co-owner of South Jersey Funeral Associates, Inc. He is a Certified Funeral Service Practitioner, a member of the National Funeral Directors Association, and is a licensed funeral director and embalmer in Ohio and Virginia.

Mr. Lechner joined the United States Army in 1983 as an infantryman and graduated from Officer Candidate School in 1985. He earned a bachelor's degree in mortuary science (Suma Cum Laude) from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, a Master of Science degree in Logistics Management from Florida Tech and a Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy (Supply Chain Management Concentration) from the National Defense University.

His military education includes the Quartermaster Officer Basic and Advance Courses, Mortuary Affairs Officer Course (Distinguished Graduate), Logistics Executive Development Course, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He is also a graduate of the Airborne School, Aerial Delivery and Materiel Management Course (Rigger), Ranger Course, Jumpmaster Course, Support Operations Course, and the Army Force Management Course.

Mr. Lechner commanded the Regimental Support Squadron, 2d Armored Calvary Regiment (2001-2003) during Operation Iraqi Freedom in Baghdad, Iraq. He also commanded in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fulda, Germany (1987-1989). He has served in the 75th Ranger Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, Defense Logistics Agency, Human Resources Command, and as an instructor at the U.S. Army Aerial Delivery and Materiel Management Course (Rigger). He has worked within the Army and Joint Mortuary Affairs system at various levels. He retired as a colonel in 2011.

His awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal (one oak leaf cluster), Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two oak leaf clusters), Meritorious Service Medal (four oak leaf clusters) and various other awards. He is authorized to wear the Joint Staff Identification Badge, the Army Staff Identification Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Rigger Badge, Senior Parachutist Badge, Combat Action Badge, and the Ranger Tab.

Mr. Lechner was inducted into the Distinguished Order of Saint Martin, is a Level III U.S. Rowing certified coach, and is a past president of the Pennsauken-Merchantville Rotary Club, a past president of the Woodbridge Crew Association and a past board member of the Prince William Crew Association. He is married and has two children.

As of May 2014

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David Patterson, CFSP

David Patterson, CFSP, has been a licensed funeral director and embalmer since 1986. He is the Owner and Operations Director of Global Mortuary Affairs, LLC, the largest domestic and international shipping service in Dallas. He has been a member of the National Disaster Medical System since 1999 service as a Mortuary Office and most recently prompted to Operations Section Chief for FEMA Region VI. He has deployed to every major incident since 9/11 where he served as an identification Officer in the Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Manhattan. David also served in Joplin MO., as Trailer Management Officer during the tornados of 2011. David Also has service the state as the Committee liaison for the Texas Funeral Directors Association Disaster Response Team and the Texas State Department of Health Services. David also lead the team in field deployments to Hurricane Ike. David has been appointed as part of the Governors Division of Emergency Management Committee as the voice of the funeral industries disaster response through the State of Texas Department of Public Health Preparedness Council as well as the steering committee on mass fatalities in Texas. David has been appointed to the Centers for Disease Control steering committee on Ebola representing the funeral profession.

David is an instructor for the mass fatalities class offered by the state and federal governments, and has written many articles on disaster response and the funeral industry as a whole. He has held seminars at many state and local conventions and works with many counties and states as a mass fatalities expert on recovery and morgue operations.

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W. Scott Smith

W. Scott Smith President of Heritage Cremation Service and Cremation Alliance of Texas, both based in Dallas, Texas. Scott is past president of Dallas County Funeral Director Association, North Texas Funeral Director Association and Texas Funeral Director Association. Scott is a licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer in the state of Texas for over 20 years and currently services on the Texas Disaster Response Team and as a Commissioner for Texas Funeral Service Commission.

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Deborah S. Skillman

Mrs. Deborah S. Skillman was selected as the Program Director for Casualty, Mortuary Affairs and Military Funeral Honors, for the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (Military Community and Family Policy) on November 5, 2012. She is the senior advisor to the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Military Community and Family Policy) on all matters related to casualty, mortuary affairs, military funeral honors across the Services.

Mrs. Skillman retired as a Colonel from the United States Army on 1 November 2012. Her distinguished 31 years of military service culminated in her final assignment as the Chief, Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Branch, where she was responsible for directing and providing regulatory guidance regarding the Army's Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Programs worldwide. In this position Mrs. Skillman monitored and managed casualty notification, disposition of remains, and the movement of personal effects from home station and the theater of operations. She served as the liaison with other agencies including sister Service casualty and mortuary affairs offices, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, USTRANSCOM, Dover Port Mortuary, Office of the Chief of Legislative Liaison, General Officer Management Office, the White House Military Office, and Casualty Assistance Centers. She managed the implementation of the Army's Fatal Accident Program and served as the final approval authority for the Army's Line of Duty Program.

Mrs. Skillman began her military career in the Simultaneous Membership Program in the Virginia National Guard while attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, VA. After graduating in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, she received her commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Ordnance Corps. She held a variety of command and staff positions during her 31 years of service. She served as a platoon leader and shop officer in the 4th Main Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Division, Fort Hood, TX; Maintenance Officer for the Assistance Chief of Staff, Logistics, 21st Theater Army Area Command, Kaiserslautern, Germany; Commander of Equipment Support Center – Mannheim, 51st Maintenance Battalion, Mannheim, Germany; Maintenance Officer, G-4 Army Central Command, Fort McPherson, GA; S-4, Army Training and Security - Kuwait; Headquarters Commandant, Joint Task Force - Kuwait; Mortuary Affairs Officer, Army Central Command, Fort McPherson, GA; Deputy Chief, Mortuary Affairs and Casualty Support, US Army Human Resources Command, Alexandria, VA; Commander, Joint Personal Effects Depot, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD; and Chief, Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Branch, US Army Human Resources Command, Fort Knox, KY.

Mrs. Skillman's military education includes the Ordnance Officer Basic and Advance Courses; US Army Combined Arms and Services Staff School; the US Army Command and General Staff College; and the Associates Logistics Executive Development Course.

Her awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with five oak leaf clusters, the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Mrs. Skillman is married to Richard Skillman; they have three children, Patrisha, Joshua, and Matthew.

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Kimberly M. Wright

Kimberly M. Wright was named Director, Office of Field Programs on July 30, 2011. She has policy and program oversight for VA's 131 national cemeteries and the National Cemetery Scheduling Office in St. Louis, Mo.

Prior to her current position, Ms. Wright served as acting associate director of Field Programs from April to July 2011. As director of Memorial Service Programs (MPS) from July 2010 to April 2011, Ms. Wright was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the headstone, marker and medallion program in Washington, D.C., with satellite offices in Nashville, Tenn.; Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; and Lebanon, Pa. She was also responsible for the Presidential Memorial Certificate Program, located in Washington, D.C., and the First Notice of Death office in St. Louis, Mo.

Ms. Wright served as director of the NCA's Memorial Service Network I in Philadelphia, Pa., from April 2005 to March 2010. As MSN director, she managed the operation of 33 national cemetery facilities in eight states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Ms. Wright served as a Supervisory Program Analyst at the Memorial Service Network II office in Decatur, Ga., from December 2002 to April 2005. She also served as a system coordinator at VA Central Office in Washington, D.C., from April 2000 until December 2002 and as a Program Analyst at the Atlanta National Cemetery Area Office from 1994 until April 2000.

Ms. Wright also served as director of Camp Nelson National Cemetery in Nicholasville, Ky., from January 1993 to March 1994. She was the assistant to the director at Florida National Cemetery from August 1991 to January 1993 and director of Alexandria National Cemetery in Pineville, La., from December 1987 to August 1991. She joined the National Cemetery Administration as a director trainee at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minn., on Jan. 5, 1987 and completed her training at Rock Island National Cemetery in Rock Island, Ill.

Ms. Wright received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota. She completed the VA Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program in 2011 and received her SES appointment in July 2011. Under her leadership, Memorial Service Network I participated in the VA Robert W. Carey Performance Excellence Program and received the Achievement Award in 2005 and the Performance Excellence Award in 2006. She is an alumna of Leadership VA (2001) and the Federal Executive Institute (2006).

December 2014

 

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