Selected Independent Funeral Homes held its 2023 NextGen Seminar from Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 in Grand Cayman. NextGen members had plenty of opportunities to connect and collaborate in this pristine setting.

The seminar began with the announcement of the 2023 NextGen Professional of the Year Award, which was presented to Josh Blake, chief operating officer of Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home in Waco, Texas. This award highlights career achievements and community involvement of funeral professionals under the age of 50.

“Selected as an association fosters an environment that breeds meaningful relationships that can turn into lifelong friendships,” Blake said. “For me personally, Selected’s NextGen Community has been a huge source of encouragement.”

Participants enjoyed excellent educational sessions during the seminar. Marguerite Ham, dean of the Selected Leadership Academy and founder of Igniting Success, led the session, “Tools for Navigating Today’s Workplace.” This session provided essential tips for building strong teams, effective communication, developing a healthy team culture and navigating critical conversations.

Jonathan Lewis, president of McKee-Wallwork + Co., led the session, “Crabs vs. Ants: Building Cultures to Improve Recruitment and Retention.” He demonstrated the influence of team culture on key HR functions.

“The learning opportunities that Marguerite Ham and Jonathan Lewis presented have allowed me to come back to work with a fresh perspective and positive mindset,” said Mackenzie Rediske, NextGen Advisory Group co-chair and a funeral director at Uht Funeral Home in Westland, Mich.

Rediske and fellow co-chair Jonathan Kepner; of Raymer-Kepner Funeral Home in Huntersville, North Carolina, facilitated the “Next” Practices Exchange to round out the meeting’s agenda. This fast-paced session gave participants an opportunity to share ideas and lessons learned in funeral service.

“The value I get from these meetings and the long-lasting relationships are game changers,” Kepner said. “I always come back home with new ideas and different ways to better my business and serve my community.”

The 2023 NextGen Seminar was sponsored in part by Kelco Supply Co. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the NextGen Community first and foremost because of the profound friendships we’ve gained with the members,” said Alicia Carr, Kelco’s president and CEO. “Being an integral part of the dialog and listening to the challenges that younger generations of funeral directors are facing gets our minds revolving around how we can adapt our business practices and technologies to meet the needs of all generations in funeral service.”

Selected Independent Funeral Homes created the NextGen Community to develop young funeral professionals as well as assist those new to the profession. The NextGen Seminar, held annually, offers educational and networking sessions for participants.

Visit the Selected website for information on the NextGen Seminar, including available continuing education credits, as well as all of Selected’s meetings, programs and resources.


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