The National Funeral Directors Association is accepting applications for the 2024-25 National Emerging Leaders Program. This program, which has nurtured 38 funeral service professionals, helps talented individuals cultivate and enhance the skills, abilities and characteristics necessary to effectively lead in their business, their community, and state and national organizations.

“The National Emerging Leaders Program promotes the collaboration of like-minded funeral directors who desire to make a difference in a leadership role,” said Victoria Martin of Spadaccino & Leo P. Gallagher & Son Community Funeral Home in Monroe, Connecticut, a member of the 2021-22 National Emerging Leaders Program. “The camaraderie, problem-solving and teaching initiatives allows the synergy of our profession to strengthen at a national level.”

This year-long program for 20 select individuals will kick off with a retreat at NFDA headquarters in Brookfield, Wisconsin, June 23-25 and concluding during the 2025 NFDA Leadership Conference. Participants will meet virtually approximately seven times throughout the year to learn from experts, both from within the funeral service profession and from outside authorities.

The program will empower participants to lead with vision, integrity, and influence, equipping them with the tools and strategies to inspire and guide others toward shared goals. Participants will also have access to mentors and engage in high-level networking with leaders in the funeral service profession.

The NFDA National Emerging Leadership Program is open to all licensed funeral professionals, regardless of NFDA membership, from the United States and Canada who are still early in their careers (first-career funeral directors licensed at least five years or second-career funeral directors licensed at least three years).

“One of the greatest challenges in funeral service today to is identify and train our future leaders,” said Jay Dietz, vice president of Operations for the Vertin Group in Breckenridge, Minnesota, who has had members of his team attend the National Emerging Leaders Program. “Our recent attendees valued the fact that they feel more connected to other leaders of varying skill levels across the nation. Additionally, they left the program with a deeper understanding of the role and expectations of a leader, as well as having gained insight into the different ways to be a leader, regardless of position or title. Thank you, NFDA, for continuing to develop the National Emerging Leaders Program and other programs for the good of the profession!”

The National Emerging Leadership Program requires an investment of $1,500, which covers: retreat fees; registration fees for the 2025 NFDA Leadership Conference; approximately seven virtual sessions led by quality speakers and facilitator; printed educational materials; CE hours; high-level networking with leaders in the funeral profession; and much more. Participants will receive a travel reimbursement of up to $500 each for both the 2024 retreat and 2025 Leadership Conference to help offset the costs of airfare, hotel and meals.

Information about the NFDA National Emerging Leaders Program is available on the NFDA website, Applications are due by midnight CST on April 15. Selected participants will be announced in late-April.

NFDA thanks the Funeral Service Foundation and NorthStar Memorial Group for their generous sponsorship of the National Emerging Leaders Program.

“Empowering leaders through support of this dynamic professional development experience is not just an investment in individuals, it’s an investment in the future of funeral service and the communities we all serve,” said Mark Krause, chair of the Funeral Service Foundation Board of Trustees.

“Through strategic talent development initiatives, we are dedicated to cultivating a workforce that thrives. At NorthStar Memorial Group, our commitment to investing in people is unwavering, ensuring they reach their full potential and contribute meaningfully to our collective success,” said Rob Rens, National Director of Talent Strategy and Acquisition for NorthStar Memorial Group.

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

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