For Immediate Release: April 18, 2022
Brookfield, Wis. – After hitting the pause button during the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Funeral Directors Association’s (NFDA) popular Meet the Mentors program will make its return in 2022.
The program, presented by the Funeral Service Foundation, will take place August 14-16 at the Emory Conference Center Hotel, located on the campus of Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia. NFDA is now accepting entries for an opportunity to participate in Meet the Mentors, which has been wholly funded by the Funeral Service Foundation since its 2011 inception.
During Meet the Mentors, up to 50 funeral professionals who are age 40 or under or new to the profession (first licensed within the last five years) will have an opportunity to meet, learn from and talk with innovative and successful funeral professionals. It’s also an opportunity to network and form relationships with other new professionals.
Three highly esteemed funeral professionals have been selected as the 2022 mentors:
- Sam James is the owner of James Funeral Home and Northlake Memorial Gardens in Huntersville, North Carolina, and a 2013 alumni of the NFDA Meet the Mentors program. James is a first-generation funeral director who started working at a funeral home when he was 16. James has his bachelor’s degree from Erskine College and an associate’s degree from the South Carolina College of Funeral Service. He currently serves on NFDA’s Pursuit of Excellence Task Force and the board of the Southern Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association.
- Ginny Sanzo, CFSP, is the managing partner of the John E. Day Funeral Home in Red Bank, New Jersey. Receiving her calling to funeral service at the age of 16, Sanzo graduated from Mid-America College of Funeral Service in Jeffersonville, Indiana; she also graduated from Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts, with her degree in Funeral Home Management. Sanzo is a past president of the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association.
- Tom Sproles, CFSP, is the co-owner of Sproles Family Funeral Home in New Castle, Indiana, and has worked in funeral service for 32 years. He graduated from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science and earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. Sproles was appointed by then-Governor Mike Pence to the State Board of Funeral and Cemetery Service in 2014 and continues his service today.
During Meet the Mentors, the mentors will share career advice and lessons they have learned while building rewarding and fulfilling careers in funeral service. Attendees will be able to connect with the mentors and their fellow mentees during small group discussions, interactive exercises and meals.
The 2020 mentees had high praise for the program; one noted, “This program was an incredible experience, one that I will forever be grateful to be a part of! I walked away feeling inspired, refreshed and recharged – ready to come home and conquer the world!”
“I have told several people since my return that being a part of this program was refreshing and grounding,” another mentee from 2020 said. “I feel so isolated being the only young funeral director in my area that sometimes I forget there are others in my same situation – others going though the same problems, growing pains, learning experiences, and growth that I am experiencing. Having this foundation with others is reassuring and gives me others to reach out to.”
There is no cost to participate in the Meet the Mentors program itself. The Funeral Service Foundation’s generous grant provides exclusive, career-transforming access to three mentors, and covers attendees’ registration fees, two nights’ lodging and select meals (reception and dinner on August 14; breakfast, lunch and dinner on August 15; and breakfast and lunch on August 16). The individuals selected to attend only pay for their transportation to the program.
More than 600 young professionals and emerging leaders have benefited from the Meet the Mentors program, which underscores the Foundation’s mission of investing in people and programs to strengthen funeral service and lift up grieving communities.
The names of the 2022 Meet the Mentors participants will be randomly drawn from among all who enter via the NFDA website, www.nfda.org/mentors. Entrants must be NFDA members in good standing, licensed funeral directors and/or embalmers, and age 40 or under or new to the profession (first licensed within the last five years). In addition to providing basic information, entrants will be required to submit a letter of good standing from their funeral home owner or manager.
Entries will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. CST on May 16. The names of the 2022 Meet the Mentors participants will be announced by the end of May.
Complete details about the NFDA Meet the Mentors program, including all eligibility requirements and an event schedule, can be found on the NFDA website, www.nfda.org/mentors. Members can also call NFDA at 800-228-6332 with questions.
NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving more than 20,000 individual members who represent nearly 11,000 funeral homes in the United States and 49 countries around the world. NFDA is the trusted leader, beacon for ethics and the strongest advocate for the profession. NFDA is the association of choice because it offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., and has an office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.nfda.org.
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Media Contact: Jessica Koth, 262-814-1536, firstname.lastname@example.org