The National Funeral Directors Association will bring together leaders from state and national funeral service associations – and future leaders in the profession – to explore where funeral service has been and where it is going during the 2023 Leadership Conference, taking place June 25-28 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona.

During the 2023 Leadership Conference, attendees will hear from a variety of experts and leaders – both from outside of and within funeral service – who will help them explore how leaders can learn from the past to pave the way for a bright future. These experts include Cassie Chandler, a leadership expert and former FBI special agent assistant director, and Bob Harris, one of the country’s foremost association management experts. Attendees will also hear from Tim Purves, whose funeral home was entrusted with looking after the Scottish element of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral arrangements, and Lynda Cheldelin Fell (pictured at top), an expert on compassion fatigue and burnout.

NFDA will lay the groundwork for its future with the election of at-large representatives. For those interested in leadership opportunities with NFDA, Immediate Past President Randy Anderson and President-elect Dutch Nie will lead a special discussion about what it takes to serve on the board of directors and the process for becoming a candidate.

State and national funeral service association leaders will have an opportunity to celebrate the graduation of the 2022-23 class of NFDA’s National Emerging Leaders Program. This year-long program, which begins and ends at the NFDA Leadership Conference, helps funeral directors develop leadership skills that will serve them well in any setting they may find themselves – their funeral home, their state or national association, their community, and beyond. More information about this program is available at

The Leadership Conference wouldn’t be complete without the popular “Breakouts? by Office” discussions during which association officers and executives break into peer groups to talk about challenges they are facing in their roles and share strategies for success.

Meet and Mingle in Arizona

Attendees can kick off their Leadership Conference experience on June 25 by hitting the links at Grayhawk Golf Club. Established in 1994, Grayhawk Golf Club offers high quality play and spectacular views of the Sonoran Desert. It has hosted competitive tournaments at the highest levels of professional and amateur golf but is an entertaining course for the weekend golfer (optional event; registration required).

Also on June 25, attendees are invited to reconnect with old friends and make new ones during the complimentary Welcome Reception.

On the evening of June 27, attendees will gather for A Southwest Soiree at the renowned Heard Museum of American Indian Art. The Heard Museum sets the standard for collaborating with American Indian artists and tribal communities to provide visitors with a distinctive perspective about the art of Native people, especially those from the Southwest. Attendees can explore this internationally recognized museum while enjoying delectable southwestern cuisine and refreshing beverages. To round out their experience at The Heard Museum, attendees will take in performances by Native American musicians and dancers (optional event; registration required).

After attending education sessions in the morning, Leadership Conference attendees have the afternoon to relax, network and enjoy Phoenix. Whether they want to explore nature, indulge in a shopping excursion, tour art museums or savor Phoenix’s unique cuisine, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Attendees can begin planning their adventure by visiting

Registration Information

Attendees can register online or by calling NFDA at 800-228-6332. Registration includes presentations, handouts, continental breakfasts and the Welcome Reception.

·         NFDA Member – includes CE

o    On or Before May 26: $495; After May 26: $545

·         Nonmember – includes CE

o    On or Before May 26: $735; After May 26: $785

·         Non-licensed Family Member/Guest – no CE

o    On or Before May 26: $225; After May 26: $275

·         Golf at Grayhawk Golf Club

o    On or Before May 26: $150; After May 26: $170

·         A Southwest Soiree at the Heard Museum of American Indian Art

o    Adult: On or Before May 26: $139; After May 26: $149

o    Child (16 and under): On or Before May 26: $50; After May 26: $60

Advance registration closes June 16. For complete details about the 2022 NFDA Leadership Conference, visit or call 800-228-6332.

Comments (1)

  • I recall an excellent conference that NFDA held one weekend back in 2000. They brought in speakers from the Wharton School of Business and each of them were excellent. Talk about food for thought, the speakers’ insights were memorable and I still recall many of those discussions. After 40 years of working for a national trade association in funeral service (ICCFA), I can’t help but have some takeaways concerning the future of funeral service in the US. To cut to the chase, for me the key challenge is the same one that is common in every business that provides consumer services. But being a common challenge doesn’t make it any less difficult. The problem is this: what can an industry do when the public, or a large segment of it, no longer needs the services offered? Quality is no longer an issue nor is price. The public simply no longer feels it needs the services/products offered. They may be wrong but that’s the reality of the situation. We have all seen this happen in other businesses. What happened to the milk men or the typewriter repairmen who visited thousands of offices? Does anybody remember the iceman who made daily calls for everybody’s iceboxes before electric refrigerators came in? Realistically, there will always be funeral services, interments in dedicated cemeteries, and memorialization. Also, the great wave of immigration, whether legal or not, is bringing thousands if not millions of funeral consumers to this country. The question is how to access these markets knowing that the tried and true approaches won’t work very well now? THAT is worth exploring.

    Bob Fells | April 29, 2023 at 3:27 pm

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