Funeral service experts with unique experiences will help you take your skills to the next level!
Sales Representative, The Dodge Company
Ken Collins has been the TN Sales Representative for The Dodge Company, Inc., since 1996. Ken attended Celina High School in Celina, TN. He also attended Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, TN where he majored in biology. Upon the completion of his studies at Mid-America College of Funeral Service, he became dually licensed in the state of Tennessee as a funeral director and embalmer. He is past president of the Upper Cumberland Funeral Directors Association, Tennessee Funeral Supply and Sales Club, and is a member of the Tennessee Funeral Directors Association. Ken is also a veteran of the U.S. Army, having served with the 3rd Infantry Division, and the 2nd Armored Division.
NFDA Legal Counsel
T. Scott Gilligan is an attorney at Gilligan Law Offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, and general counsel for NFDA. In addition to serving as general counsel, Gilligan has represented NFDA interests before the Federal Trade Commission since the inception of the FTC Funeral Rule in 1984.
Gilligan graduated in 1976 from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C., and obtained his law degree from Georgetown University Law School in 1979. His family has been in funeral service for more than 120 years in Cincinnati. He is the author of the latest update of Mortuary Law, a textbook widely used in mortuary colleges.
Owner, Worcester Funeral Inc.
Barbara A. Kazmierczak is a licensed funeral director in Massachusetts and a certified funeral service practitioner. She graduated from the New England Institute at Mount Ida College, Newton, MA. A lifelong Worcester resident, she worked as a Registered Nurse graduating from Worcester Hahnemann Hospital School of Nursing, received her Bachelors in Science from Assumption College and Masters in Business Administration from Anna Maria College. Before joining her husband Jack Kazlauskas on a part-time basis she worked in hospital administration, nursing education and pharmaceutical regulation throughout the country. In addition to community service groups, she is a Board member of the Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association as well as a member of the Arts Committee of the International Conference of Funeral Service Examining Boards.
Amanda “Mandi” Marlin, is a third generation funeral director in historic Franklin, TN. The community where she serves is truly one of diversity, with families that range from rural to famous entertainers in the music and the sports industry. The ability to think “outside the box” comes into play while meeting with those families that are not looking for the typical traditional funeral. Being an NFDA Certified Crematory Operator gives her the insight on how to create a meaningful service to knowing the legalities and complications involved in cremation. Mandi has served on the Tennessee Funeral Directors Association, the Southern Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Service conventions by assisting in organizing various events. In 2014, she was active in assisting with the meaningful NFDA Memorial Service.
Author and Business Strategist
Meridith Elliott Powell is an internationally certified coach, award-winning author, keynote speaker and business strategist. In her highly engaging keynote sessions, Meridith shows her audiences how to attract more business, retain top talent, and win in this new economy. No walking on coals, no breaking boards, just real-life strategies you can put into place first thing Monday morning. Her unique background includes high-level leadership and executive positions in sales, marketing and finance. Her highly interactive style and ability to rapidly connect with people make her a sought after speaker, coach and strategist. She is the host of the podcast “Secrets to Success,” and the BrightTalk series “The Client Connection,” both programs showcase leaders in the areas of business connections, development and growth.
Director, Member Development, NFDA
Lacy Robinson, CFSP, develops and presents continuing education training programs for NFDA members, establishing NFDA as the leading provider of training and development for funeral professionals. Previously, Robinson served as director of professional development for Aurora Casket Company. She is a licensed funeral director and embalmer, a certified funeral celebrant and a certified member of the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice (APFSP). She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Georgetown College and is a graduate of Mid-America College of Funeral Service. As an active member of the Bluegrass Toastmasters Group, Robinson has achieved the designation Competent Communicator. She also serves on the APFSP Board of Trustees and is vice-chairperson of the Mid-America College of Funeral Service Advisory Board.
VP of Sales & Marketing, Thacker Caskets
Danielle Thacker graduated from Villanova University in 2007, having double majored in Marketing and Management Information Systems. She serves as VP of Sales & Marketing at Thacker Caskets, and is responsible for Thacker’s group of sales consultants and their management team. Visiting hundreds of family-owned and operated funeral homes annually, she works to gain an understanding of their day to day challenges and bring the funeral home applicable solutions. Danielle is married to Tyler Moyer who works in his own family business. Together they have two daughters, Rilee and Layton, with whom they enjoy outdoor activities of all sorts including running, wakeboarding, fishing, golfing, snowboarding as well as spending time with their families at Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland.
Program Director, Arapahoe Community College
Martha Thayer has been involved in the Colorado Funeral Service Industry since 1988. She has been the Department Chair of the Mortuary Science Program at Arapahoe Community College since 1996. Her advocacy for issues affecting end of life issues has led to appearances in the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and MSNBC to share her expertise in the field.
Technology Expert and Author
Beth Ziesenis. Author. Speaker. Nerd. Meet your new nerdy best friend… Although the only real trophy she ever won was for making perfect French fries at McDonald’s in high school, Beth Z has been featured on Best Speaker lists by Meetings & Conventions magazine and MeetingsNet. Since her first Commodore 64 computer, Beth has made a verb out of the word nerd. She helps computer users all over the country filter through thousands of apps, gadgets, widgets and doodads to find the perfect free and bargain technology tools for business and personal use through presentations and her books, including the latest title, Nerd Know-How: The 27+ Best Apps for Work and How to Use ‘Em.