May 5-7, 2023 | San Antonio, TX
142 women and gathered to build empathy, trust, confidence and resilience at The Westin Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas. Special thanks to The Funeral Service Foundation for making the conference even more accessible by offering 20 all-inclusive David C. Baue NFDA Professional Women's Conference Scholarships.
Thanks to all who attended the 2023 Professional Women’s Conference (May 5-7, 2023) in San Antonio, TX.
Speaker · Author · Coach
Vera Jones is a Motivational Speaker, Communication Coach, Author, and Syracuse University Hall of Fame scholar-athlete. Women’s basketball fans may know Vera from her 30-year broadcasting career for networks such as ESPN, Fox Sports, MSG, NBA-TV, and the Big Ten Network. She has also coached women’s college basketball, worked with prominent Fortune 500 companies, acted with the Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company, and has even entertained audiences as a stand-up comedienne! An MTI Certified Mediator and Trainer in Workplace Conflict Resolution, Vera applies her varied experiences by engaging and empowering audiences across the country in various public speaking, communication, and leadership training forums. Vera founded the Perseverance Speakers Academy in 2020, where she helps ordinary people develop and confidently share their extraordinary stories and expertise.
Creator, The Live Through Love Project
Ruben Rojas traded in his suit for a paintbrush. He began transforming blank walls into unique, empowering messages. Today, the messages provided by these murals are uplifting communities and challenging the public to create new dialogues. As an artist, muralist, and designer, Ruben's mission is to inspire others to live through love. Using the urban landscape as his canvas, Ruben encourages communities, across the country and worldwide from Paris to New York and Florida to Mississippi, to change for the better through optimism and collaboration. Ruben's portfolio of work extends beyond murals. He is also a TED speaker, a designer, and a corporate consultant. Ruben is also co-founder of Beautify Earth.
Sales Representative, The Dodge Co
Autumn is a Michigan native who currently resides in Rhode Island. She serves as sales representative with The Dodge Company, covering Connecticut and Western Massachusetts alongside her role as part time chemist for the company, a position she has held since 2020. Autumn holds both a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mortuary Science, as well as a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biomedical Sciences. She also serves as an Instructional Assistant for the Mortuary Science Program at Wayne State University. She is a licensed funeral director and embalmer in the State of Michigan and Rhode Island. When she’s not on the road visiting funeral homes or spending time in the lab, she enjoys collecting house plants, playing volleyball, practicing yoga, and cooking.
President & Owner, Coyle Funeral Home and Cremation Services
Megan Coyle is president and fifth-generation owner of Coyle Funeral Home and Cremation Services, where she continues a 134-year tradition of serving the families of Northwest Ohio. Megan is an Ohio Licensed Funeral Director and Funeral Insurance Agent, and she is the recipient of numerous national awards and accolades for her work in preneed and her professional leadership. She is an active board member of organizations dedicated to supporting and empowering women, as well as those focused on improving her local community. Driven by purpose and positivity, she strives to stay balanced while putting service first.
Chief Sales Officer with Envision Strategic Partners
Erin joined the Funeral Profession nearly a decade ago after a personal experience with her grandmother helped her discover her passion for helping families pre-arrange. Previously, she worked as an award-winning sales leader for 20+ years. She excelled as a Sales Counselor and Manager at Larkin Mortuaries & Cemeteries. She earned the Homesteaders Life ‘Rookie of the Year Award’ and maintained being a “Million Dollar Producer” along with multiple sales awards. Erin now recruits, trains, supports and motivates some of the most successful and compassionate pre-planning sales counselors in the country. In 2022, she co-founded the Death Care Collective. She enjoys traveling with her husband and teenage son.
Regional Sales Manager at Coldspring USA
With a family background in funeral services and extensive experience in the death care industry, Honnalora currently serves as a Regional Sales Manager for Coldspring. Throughout her career, she has earned several prestigious sales awards and has 25 years of professional public speaking experience. Honnalora brings a strong sense of business acumen to her sales process including, business development, sales leadership and sales training. She drives world class value added solutions for permanent memorialization. In 2022, she co-founded the Death Care Collective. You can often find Honnalora in Las Vegas, enjoying her role as “PeaPa” aka Grandma.
Director of Account Operations, Precoa
Courtney Jackson is Director of Account Operations at Precoa. For over ten years, her managerial talent for empowering businesses, teams, and individuals to harness their strengths and realize their full potential has taken her around the world from Taiwan to Texas. She is skilled at leading cross-collaborative initiatives and setting company-wide priorities. These continually improve the preneed experience for funeral homes and make a meaningful impact on Precoa’s award-winning company culture. A compassionate mentor, Courtney’s genuine curiosity inspires her to understand what drives people so she can guide them to grow their careers and ignite excitement in others.
Director of Public Relations, National Funeral Directors Association
As the Director of Public Relations for NFDA, Jessica Koth is responsible for developing and delivering comprehensive and creative media and public relations plans to enhance the reputation of the association and its members and educate consumers about the value of meaningful memorialization. She also serves as the editor of the NFDA Bulletin, oversees the Pursuit of Excellence Award program, manages the association’s presence on social media, and writes a monthly column for The Director magazine. Prior to joining NFDA, Jessica worked at several public relations agencies where her clients included local, regional, and national companies and non-profit organizations.
May 5, 2023
4:30 - 5:15 p.m.
5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
"Fiesta with Friends"
In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo and the vibrant Hispanic culture infused in the city of San Antonio, attendees can kick off their Professional Women’s Conference experience with a complimentary fiesta celebration at Casa Rio on the famed San Antonio Riverwalk. While enjoying delectable Tex-Mex heavy hors d'oeuvres and refreshing beverages, guests will experience a fun-filled opening event complete with music by an all-female mariachi band and a photobooth to capture memories with friends old and new.
May 6, 2023
8 – 8:30 a.m.
Registration & Breakfast
Welcome & Opening Remarks
8:45 – 9:45 a.m.
"Girls Don't Whistle"
Vera believes stimulating greater empathy and building trust are major keys for opening doors bolted by biases, fear, and ignorance. She examines the stages of distrust and how to communicate truth to dismantle it. This session is particularly relevant and empowering for women looking to overcome imposter syndrome and other limitations in leadership and in life.
9:45 – 10 a.m.
10 – 11:30 a.m.
“The Meaning of Success”
Special Guests from the Funeral Service Industry
In this world of shifting paradigms, the definition of success is an ever-evolving notion. So, what does “success” mean in 2023 in Funeral Service and Deathcare? How are women and non-binary industry professionals finding it while incorporating the daily challenges “real life” throws at them? Join us as we recognize examples of “success” in our industry, including NFDA’s inaugural Inspiration Award winner, and learn from a special guest panel, moderated by Vera Jones, how to better define how to achieve “wins” amidst the sacrifices and challenges present in today’s changing marketplace.
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.
“Owning Your History. Cultivating Your Future.”
Erin Creger & Honnalora Hubbard
“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience” ~Paulo Coelho
Your life has been full of experiences, some good, and some bad. What if we told you that you can weave them all together allowing you to own your history, and use it as a foundation to drive your life forward? Not just to move forward but to move upward towards the life and career that all of your experiences have been preparing you for. You’ve already done the hard part, living your history. Now it’s time to do the fun part, creating your future!
2 - 2:15 p.m.
2:15 – 3:45 p.m.
“It’s Not a Competition!”
A “competition mentality” among colleagues inhibits opportunities to support and collaborate with one another. This is often the reality for female and nonbinary funeral service professionals. During this highly interactive session, with many opportunities for small group dialogue and sharing, attendees will uncover why this competition mentality exists and how they can break the cycle to improve communication and working relationships with fellow female and nonbinary colleagues.
3:45 - 4:00 p.m.
May 7, 2023
8 – 8:30 a.m.
8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
2023 Inspiration Award Winner
The 2023 NFDA Inspiration Award recipient is Ellen Wynn McBrayer from Jones-Wynn Funeral Homes and Crematory. NFDA extends a warm Congratulations to Ellen!
Thanks you to our generous Inspiration Award sponsor!