Tom Buist has been a licensed funeral service practitioner and embalmer for 40 years and holds a certification in eye enucleation and corneal excisions. For 25 years Tom was director and manager of a multi-location funeral home corporation. He then moved on to York Great Lakes as a sales representative, lecturer and trainer. Eventually, Tom found his niche with The Dodge Company as a sales representative in Michigan. More recently, in addition to his sales representative responsibilities, Tom has assumed more responsibility as one of Dodge's technical presenters with great success.
Tom currently serves as Chairman of the North American Division of the British Institute of Embalmers. Additionally, Tom serves on the Michigan Gift of Life Ethics Committee.
Dr. Jody Carrington
Dr. Jody Carrington is a renowned psychologist sought after for her expertise, energy and approach to helping people solve their most complex human-centered challenges. Jody focuses much of her work around reconnection – the key to healthy relationships and productive teams. Her approach is authentic, honest and often hilarious. She speaks passionately about resilience, mental health, leadership, burnout, grief and trauma.
A speaker, author, and leader of Carrington & Company, she uses all she has been taught in her twenty-year career as a psychologist to empower everyone she connects with. Jody has worked with kids, families, business leaders, first responders, teachers, farmers and has spoken in church basements and world-class stages; the message remains the same – our power lies in our ability to acknowledge each other first. With a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, work with major institutions and thriving clinical practice, she brings a depth of experience and insight that is unmatched in the industry.
Sherrie Dunlevy is a former radio talk host and TV news anchor, and a bereaved mom. Following the death of her son, she has dedicated her life to helping others. Sherrie is the author of the #1 best-selling book "How Can I Help?" and offers talks and workshops on grief. Sherrie is also the former host of the Grief Anonymous podcast and has now started her own "Graduating Grief" podcast and online community, which is designed to help move people step out of the pain of grieving and into living with joy again.
Richard Kizer and Georganne Bender
Richard Kizer and Georganne Bender are consumer anthropologists, keynote speakers, authors, and consultants who have helped thousands of businesses in retail, restaurant, hospitality, travel, death care, and service industries since 1990. They are contributors to Your Business on MSNBC, have been named two of Retailing's Most Influential People, and are listed among the Top 40 Omnichannel Retail Influencers, Top 50 Retail Influencers, and the Top Retail Industry Experts to Follow on Social Media. Their award-winning Retail Adventures Blog is consistently listed among important retail and small business blogs. In addition to yearly focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and intensive on-site studies, their research includes posing as every kind of customer you can imagine; and maybe even a few that you can't. The result of their research is literally straight from the customers’ mouth: solid ground-level intelligence you can use to better serve your own customers.
Michael Nicodemus, NFDA vice president of cremation services, is a licensed funeral director and former vice-president of cremation operations at Hollomon-Brown Funeral Homes & Crematory (with 8 locations in Tidewater, Virginia) a position he held for more than 34 years. Mike is licensed to practice in the states of Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science and a member of the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science Board of Directors. He served as President of the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) from October 2011-August 2012, and was Chair of the CANA Operators Certification Program for 7 years. Mike is a sought after speaker and expert witness on a wide range of cremation topics and is the instructor for NFDA’s Cremation Certification Program.
Mark Panciera is an accomplished business owner, community leader, executive and entrepreneur. Applying his personal formula for professional success. Mark has distinguished himself as an advisor to a diversified group of clients in a variety of industries. As the CEO and Partner of The Pacific Institute, Mark focuses his efforts on driving the growth and performance of organizations, teams, and individuals, working with Fortune 1,000 companies, government agencies, healthcare systems, educational institutions, athletic teams and non-profit organizations.
Mark is also very proud of his funeral service tradition as the owner of Boyd-Panciera Family Funeral Homes, led by his wife Tiffany and son Mark Anthony, the fourth-generation caregiver in the business.
A well-recognized TED Talk presenter, speaker and author, Panciera is frequently asked to share his insights and experience.
Ms. Thayer received emeritus status in 2020 after a 25+ year career of teaching and administrating as the program chair in the Mortuary Science Department at Arapahoe Community College. She continues her passion for lifelong learning through her work as a presenter, trainer, and continuing education curriculum designer. Martha began her career in funeral service in 1988 and remains active as a practitioner at In Memoriam Funeral and Cremation Service in Broomfield, CO. She is a graduate of the Dallas Institute of Funeral Service and holds a BA and MS from Colorado Christian University in Organizational Management and Curriculum and Instruction, respectively.
As Head of Innovation and Creativity at Disney, Duncan and his team helped Imagineering, Lucasfilm, Marvel, Pixar, and Disney Parks to innovate, creating magical new storylines and experiences.
He now brings his extensive Disney expertise to audiences around the world using a unique approach to Design Thinking, helping people capture unlikely connections, leading to fresh thinking and disruptive ideas. Delivering a series of keynotes, workshops and ideation forums, his unique Innovation toolkit helps companies embed a culture of innovation into everyone’s DNA.
Duncan is a multiple TED speaker and contributor to Fast Company, Forbes & the Harvard Business Review. He teaches innovation Master Classes at Yale, Harvard, and Edinburgh University.