Session Descriptions

Keynote Presentation: A Medical Examiner’s Case Study: The Jeffrey Epstein Case

Dr. Michael M. Baden

During his keynote presentation, Dr. Baden will walk us through his observation of the autopsy on Jeffrey Epstein. In October 2019, Baden was hired by Epstein's brother and disputed New York City chief medical examiner's conclusion that Epstein's death was a suicide, asserting that three fractures in Epstein's neck were more consistent with homicide by strangulation and rarely seen in suicide by hanging. His opinion on the case has been disputed.

Michael M. Baden is an American physician and board-certified forensic pathologist known for his work investigating high-profile deaths and as the host of HBO's Autopsy. He is considered controversial, and has on a number of occasions been on the opposite side of many experts in his line of work. Baden was the chief medical examiner of the City of New York from 1978 to 1979. He was chairman of the House Select Committee on Assassinations' Forensic Pathology Panel that investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Baden maintains a private forensic pathology consulting practice. He has been a consulting or lead pathologist and an expert witness on a number of other high-profile cases and investigations and has been hired to conduct private autopsies in a number of cases. He is the Chief Forensic Pathologist for the New York State Police. 


In order of appearance Convention Schedule

Families Gone Wild: Defusing Conflict in the Arrangement Room

Dr. Jason Troyer 

Increasingly, families fight among themselves and clash with funeral directors regarding service options, the cost of services and products, and many other topics. In this presentation, Dr. Troyer discusses specific examples of conflict, examines the psychological roots of specific behaviors, and proposes tactics for defusing and resolving the conflict. The strategies are drawn from clinical psychology and family therapy, where therapists must quickly decipher challenging family dynamics and work toward positive outcomes. You'll leave with practical strategies you can use immediately to defuse conflict in the arrangement conference.

What to Say and What Not to Say to a Grieving Family

David Roberts

This training is designed to create awareness with those present on what not to say to grieving families and empower funeral directors to work more effectively with them. Time will also be reserved for questions.

What About the Kids?

Megan Lopex & Vicki Jay, National Alliance for Children’s Grief 

Funeral professionals often have the first opportunity to impact a child’s grief experience.

Our behaviors and practices must create a safe space for the grieving child to have their personal journeys validated. From the initial point of contact through navigating the planning process and memorialization, funeral professionals have an opportunity to impact the grief journey and foster resilience in children and teens who are the adults of our future.

We will present practices that are utilized within the childhood bereavement community that provide supportive environments and opportunities for participation, promote healing conversations around grief, and elevate the voices of bereaved children and teens.

Join us as we build skills to walk alongside a child or teen that is grieving in our mission of ensuring that No Child Has to Grieve Alone.

Custom Approaches to Building a Better Residency

Leili McMurrough

Learn practical tools and best practices to develop, manage and maintain an effective internship program. This course will cover: Hiring-managing expectations and setting achievable goals. Onboarding-reviewing relevant law and outlining policies and procedures. Mentoring-developing a leadership style. Building culture-how to create a strategy that benefits both the business and the apprentice.

Understanding the Importance of Nonverbal Communication

Jan Hargrave 

Jan Hargrave teaches you the ways in which your body communicates to the world around you. Her information could help you to “read” your customers, your family, your students, your associates, in fact, everyone around you. Author of Let Me See Your Body Talk, Freeway of Love, Judge The Jury and Strictly Business Body Language, this popular speaker, distinguished educator, talk-show guest, describes for you all “hidden messages” you use in your everyday life and shows you how to stop the lies and uncover the truth—in any conversation or situation.

Check out Jan's teaser video to learn what makes her session unique.

The Relevance of Restorative Art & Practical Restorative Art

Dominick Astorino 

The most important question that a grieving family asks when traumatic or unexpected death occurs is “Can we see her?” All too often the funeral profession tells the families we serve that they can not have an open casket viewing in these circumstances. Why? The early part of the last century regularly saw trauma cases restored for open casket viewing. What changed? We’ll examine the basic history of restorative art, and how it is relevant to embalmers today. Discover how the cultural shift in the United States affected restorative art education and practices, and how its continued relevance is important to our society and profession.

Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive: A Critical Marketing Tool

Allison Gilbert 

After O, the Oprah Magazine published author Allison Gilbert’s provocative essay, “The Reflection Effect,” a national conversation began anew about opportunities for using loss as a driver of happiness and healing. The funeral profession is uniquely positioned to create experiences to help entire communities honor and celebrate loved ones who have died. This presentation will focus on practical and innovative opportunities to increase community engagement around commemoration. It will also reveal strategies for developing successful local and regional partnerships.

NYS Law (offered twice)

Thomas Fuller 

Reading Between the Lines: Industry Bias, Facts & Fallacies & Color Theory & Soft Tissue Repair

Dominick Astorino 

In a world of busy funeral service careers, YouTube and Instagram morticians and biased news sources where do we get our information about formaldehyde and how do we know what is true? Is it possible that our information is presented or viewed through the lens of bias? Soft tissue repair and color correction are one of the most frustrating aspects of restorative art for embalmers of all skill levels.

Marketing Bootcamp: You Must Start With The Basics

Joe Weigel 

This hands-on seminar offers a great way to acquire the core skills you need as a marketer –whether you are a novice or in need of a quick refresher. The session covers the fundamental concepts of marketing and marketing communications.

Yes You: How to Serve Families Better by Being Selfish

Ryan Thogmartin

“I can never go on or enjoy a vacation. I always think that if I leave, it will be the time when the mayor passes away and I would never feel right if I weren’t there for his family.” - A funeral director on the verge of burnout. This is a real conversation Ryan Thogmartin had with a coaching client of his. At that moment he knew that he had to create some change. This presentation goes through the process he developed to help funeral professionals find clarity and freedom in a profession that requires so much attention, time, and effort.

Cremation is _______: Understanding Cremation Motivations

Barbara Kemmis

In this session, Barbara Kemmis, Executive Director of CANA, will share information on CANA statistics that have tracked the growth in cremation and reported the reasons why cremation is the new tradition. The question remains: What happens after the decision to cremate? This session will present groundbreaking research on consumer behavior and attitudes toward cremation. Often a disconnect exists between the motivations of cremation consumers and perceptions of funeral professionals.

* As of June 14, 2022; subject to change.