Certified Life Celebrant & Interfaith Minister
Jeannie has over 20 years of experience in funeral service. She has held a variety of positions including Administrative Assistant, Certified Preplanner, Aftercare Representative, Community Speaker and Liaison, as well as Event Coordinator. Jeannie has been a Certified Life Celebrant since January of 2016 and an Interfaith Minister since 2017. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business and Marketing from Alverno College in Milwaukee. She is a Licensed Insurance Intermediary, Certified Pre-planner, and Certified Paralegal.
NFDA General Counsel
Chris has been serving funeral service for almost 20 years. He was in-house counsel for SCI from 2003-2008 before he started in private practice representing funeral homes, cemeteries, and crematories of all sizes across North America. Chris was General Counsel for the Texas Funeral Directors Association and General Counsel and on the Board of Directors for the Cremation Association of North America for over 7 years each. Chris founded The Farmer Firm eight years ago and served as outside general counsel to many successful businesses. As NFDA’s General Counsel, Chris provides counsel on litigation, regulatory matters, business matters, buying and selling, employment law, and any other legal matters our profession faces.
Owner and Licensed Funeral Director, Harris Funeral Home and Pets at Peace
Rick Harris was inspired to pursue a career in funeral service during his early years, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. Rick’s firm, Paul W. Harris Funeral Home has served the Rochester, NY community for 76 years. Rick received his A.A.S. in Mortuary Science from the State University of New York at Canton in 1999; and has been a NYS Licensed Funeral Director since 2000. In 2009, he founded Pets at Peace Memorial Cremation Services where he now serves as President and C.E.O.
Services Manager, Return Home
Katey Houston's responsibilities include meeting with families at their time of need to create an experience as unique as the loved one lost. She physically cares for the decedents ensuring their terramation journey is completed with love and care. She also leads Return Home’s educational outreach within the funeral industry. Katey is a licensed funeral director and embalmer in Washington state as well as her home country of England. She is a Certified Celebrant and serves on the board of the Washington Funeral Directors Association.
Melissa Posey Loose
NFDA Training and Development Manager
Melissa Posey Loose is a fourth-generation licensed funeral director. Melissa has a diverse background in meeting with families to develop, coordinate, and direct meaningful plans and ceremonies honoring the deceased. Melissa also led her family’s firm, Posey Funeral Directors, to earn the National Funeral Directors Association’s Pursuit of Excellence Award for the past four years. As a 2019 Pursuit of Excellence Award winner, Posey Funeral Directors was also designated as one of NFDA’s five 2019 “Best of the Best” award winners for their community relations initiatives.
Vice President of Industry and Government Relations for Foundation Partners Group
Mark Krause operates four funeral homes that serve over 1,800 families annually in Milwaukee, WI. He is a fourth-generation funeral director and has been in funeral service since 1976. Krause Funeral Homes and Cremation Services is nationally recognized for outstanding customer service and innovation. Krause graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, earning bachelor’s degrees in both political science and history. Mark attended Worsham College of Mortuary Science and graduated in 1982. He earned a Master of Business Administration in 1993.
Dr. Sara Murphy, PhD, CT
Death Educator, University of Rhode Island
Dr. Sara Murphy, PhD, CT is a death educator, certified thanatologist (Association for Death Education and Counseling), and suicidologist with fifteen years of scholarly, pedagogical, and professional experience in the field. She is a faculty member at the University of Rhode Island and an affiliate faculty member in the Thanatology Graduate Program at Marian University. Sara conducts professional development and educational workshops and seminars on many specialized topics of death, dying, and bereavement nationwide for professional organizations, businesses, and schools.
NFDA Vice President, Cremation Services
Mike is a licensed funeral director and former vice-president of cremation operations at Hollomon-Brown Funeral Homes & Crematory (with 8 locations in Tidewater, Virginia), where he worked for 34 years. Mike is a graduate of the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science and a member of the PIMS Board of Directors. He is a former president of the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) and was Chair of the CANA Operations Certification Program for 7 years. Mike writes articles for funeral industry trade publications and frequently presents cremation education programs at conferences across the country. Mike has served as the instructor for NFDA’s Cremation Certification Program since 2013.
Instructor, Milwaukee Area Technical College
NFDA Podcast Host, A Brush with Death
Gabe is a licensed funeral director in Wisconsin and Minnesota and is also a funeral service educator. Currently, he teaches embalming and restorative art and serves as the Funeral Service Program Coordinator at the Milwaukee Area Technical College. Gabe is also the host of the National Funeral Directors Association’s “A Brush with Death” podcast, host of NFDA Live, and a contributor to other NFDA projects and publications. He also owns a motorcycle urn company, EtURNal Ride, and creates custom engraved urns that serve as functioning motorcycle access covers. He is very passionate about serving families in their time of need and creating meaningful experiences for them and considers himself very blessed to be in a position to teach and inspire others to do the same. Gabriel has served his country as an Army Infantryman.
Chief Operating Officer, Return Home
Brienna Smith is responsible for overseeing all operations and services at Return Home, ensuring that every process throughout the facility is optimized and organized. She is also the “voice” of Return Home, delivering the message of sustainable death care to both traditional media and social media alike. Brienna graduated with honors from Mesa Community College and has been a licensed funeral director and embalmer in Washington state since 2014.