The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) International Convention & Expo, taking place October 27-30 in Chicago, IL, will offer funeral professionals an opportunity to get their future in focus, while reliving the past and exploring the present, through unequalled opportunities for learning, networking and discovering new products and services.
Seth Godin, bestselling author, teacher, entrepreneur and founder of altmba.com, will give the opening keynote address on Monday, October 28. Anyone with a smartphone knows how much the world has changed and how fast it continues to change. Attention is precious, yet the noise around us continues to increase. Godin will take attendees on a fast-moving tour of how the new economy offers each of us a priceless opportunity to tell stories that resonate and to ultimately earn the trust of those we seek to serve.
Closing out the convention on Wednesday, October 30 is keynote speaker Ethan Morse, a filmmaker, U.S. Army veteran and Tomb Guard Sentinel, who will give attendees a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the documentary series Honor Guard. Narrated by Academy Award-nominated actor Sam Elliot, the series showcases the inspiring dedication that members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (“The Old Guard”) unceasingly exhibit to pay their respects to those who gave all. Filmed throughout our nation’s scenic capital region, this documentary highlights the mission, training, history and impact of the soldiers in The Old Guard, the oldest and most prestigious active-duty infantry unit in the U.S. Army.
Following Wednesday’s General Session, attendees can enjoy a special pre-screening of Honor Guard, which is slated to be released in November.
Unrivaled Education Sessions Tackle Critical Issues
No matter what profession an individual works in, education doesn’t stop once school is over, and funeral service is no exception. Ongoing education and professional development can help funeral professionals better understand the evolving needs of families and deliver exceptional funerals and memorial services.
Forty engaging workshops will address technical skills; business management; the value of ceremony; marketing and community outreach; grief and bereavement; and more. Sessions include:
Preconvention Seminars (additional fee):
• NFDA Arranger Training Seminar
• NFDA Cremation Certification Program
• NFDA Certified Preplanning Consultant Seminar
• Certified Celebrant Training (hosted by NFDA and presented by InSight Institute)
• Embalming and Reconstructive Techniques for Trauma, Including Organ and Tissue Cases presented by Vernie Fountain
Reconstructive Techniques for Severe Trauma
presented by Jason Mishler
What Consumers Expect From You Right Now
presented by Georganne Bender and Richard Kizer
Traveling the World: Funerals, Past and Present
presented by Caitlin Doughty
Planning Your Exit Strategy
presented by Tim Hermann, Jake Johnson and Alan Creedy
Defusing Conflict in the Arrangement Room: Strategies from Family Therapists
presented by Jason Troyer
It’s Not “Just a Cremation!”
presented by Adam Sanden
Innovation Flourishes in the Expo Hall
The NFDA Convention features the world’s largest funeral service trade show, offering the newest and most exciting products, services and innovations from around the world. Many exhibitors plan to introduce inventive products and services during the convention. The Expo Hall will be open October 28 and 29 from noon to 5 p.m.; and October 30 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Experience intimate, 20-minute speaker-led sessions in a relaxed atmosphere in the NFDA Tailgate Exchange area. NFDA Tailgate Exchange sessions will take place during Expo Hall hours.
In the new Salute to Service Pavilion, attendees can meet with representatives dedicated to serving and honoring the nation’s veterans and fallen heroes, including representatives from each branch of the U.S. military, who will share a variety of information about the funeral benefits to which service members are entitled (and how families can access them), burials at sea and more.
Attendees won’t want to miss special NFDA booths in the Expo Hall where they can learn about the association’s advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C.; the Pursuit of Excellence Award Program; Endorsed Providers that can save members time and money; and how they can stay informed with NFDA Publications.
NFDA is giving attendees a chance to win phenomenal prizes during the Great Big Giveaway on October 30. On Wednesday morning during Expo Hall hours, NFDA’s valued sponsors will hand out tickets for a chance to win a variety of fabulous prizes, including the grand prize of a 2020 NFDA Convention Experience in New Orleans. Winners will be announced during the Wednesday General Session (attendees must be present to win).
Creating Memories in Chicago
A lot of networking happens during workshops and in the Expo Hall, but NFDA’s distinctive social events will give attendees an opportunity to develop new relationships and renew old ones. Special events, planned exclusively for NFDA Convention attendees, will showcase Chicago as one of America’s (and the world’s) favorite cities.
Attendees won’t want to miss their chance to say thank you to Chicago by participating in NFDA’s annual service project with Habitat for Humanity. On Saturday, October 26, attendees will help make the dream of home ownership a reality for a Chicago family by volunteering at a Habitat for Humanity build site. There is no fee to participate but attendees must sign up in advance. Those who cannot participate at the build site can support volunteers’ efforts by signing on as a donor or sponsor.
Since its 2001 inception, the Funeral Service Foundation’s golf outing has raised more than $1 million to advance its mission to support funeral service in building meaningful relationships with the families and communities it serves. On Sunday, October 27, experience all the perks of the Foundation’s annual Golf Classic in a social, casual and exciting atmosphere at Topgolf in Naperville, Ill. New this year, attendees who don’t golf but still want to support the Foundation can attend as a spectator and experience the networking and excitement of the day without the pressure of swinging a club. Visit www.FuneralServiceFoundation.org/golf to register and learn about sponsorship opportunities.
Attendees can channel their inner Jake or Elwood during the Blues Brothers-inspired Welcome Party on Sunday, October 27. Taking place in the Aon Ballroom at legendary Navy Pier, guests will enjoy Chicago’s most requested tribute band, The Blooze Brothers; Chicago-inspired snacks; and a cash bar (included with registration).
Celebrate the shining stars of funeral service during the All-Star Recognition Ceremony on Monday, October 28. NFDA will recognize firms that earned the 2019 NFDA Pursuit of Excellence Award – including Best of the Best recipients and Hall of Excellence inductees – or NFDA’s Green Funeral Practice Certificate. NFDA will also honor this year’s NFDA Certified Crematory Operators, NFDA Certified Cremation Services Providers, NFDA Certified Preplanning Consultants, the Funeral Service Foundation’s award/scholarship recipients, and APFSP’s Certified Funeral Service Practitioners (included with registration). Attendees who have received one or more of these honors are invited to attend and be recognized with their peers.
Public-safety officials serve and protect their communities and put their lives on the line every day. When the time comes, their lives deserve to be remembered with the utmost honor and respect through a meaningful funeral service. Attendees should make time to attend the Service of Remembrance on Tuesday, October 29 as NFDA explores the customs associated with celebrating the lives of public servants, and honors the memory of funeral service family members who died this year (included with registration).
Attendees of the Funeral Directors Under 40 Party on Tuesday, October 29 will have to keep their eye on the ball. Whether they’re ping pong pros or just interested in a casual volley, they can channel their inner Forrest Gump and serve up some fun with their fellow funeral directors! Tickets for the event include ping-pong tournament (with prizes!), pizza, hors d’oeuvres and three drink tickets.
As the NFDA Convention comes to a close, attendees will gather for An Evening Under the Sea on Wednesday, October 30 at the renowned Shedd Aquarium. Guests can explore Shedd Aquarium like never before during this unforgettable evening. Soak up Abbott Oceanarium’s breathtaking recreation of a Pacific Northwest coastline and enjoy the Underwater Beauty Exhibit during cocktail hour. The evening continues with exclusive access to the Caribbean Reef and aquarium galleries, complete with dinner stations featuring a taste of Chicago, live music and a hosted bar (tickets required).
Sweet Home Chicago
When it’s time to relax after the Convention activities are done for the day, Chicago can’t be beat.
Chicago is more walkable than most global cities, and visitors of all ages enjoy the proximity of attractions like Navy Pier, Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago and other treasures. The city’s explosive performance art scene delivers audience-thrilling theatre, music and dance in historic venues. And, of course, an endless assortment of restaurants, high-end shopping and nightlife are all at visitors’ fingertips, ready to match every taste, budget and mood.
More information about all that Chicago has to offer can be found by visiting www.choosechicago.com.
Register Today! There is so much waiting for attendees to discover at the 2019 NFDA International Convention & Expo. The latest information, including information on how to register and make hotel reservations through the NFDA housing bureau, is available at www.nfda.org/chicago2019.