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2023 Professional Women's Conference Recap

April 25, 2023 1:03 PM | WFDA (Administrator)


I am still reeling from the excitement and energy generated from last week’s 2nd Annual WFDA Professional Women’s Conference! The goal of this event is to offer tools, education, and support to increase social, emotional, and professional empowerment for women in the funeral business. This year we saw a 42 percent increase in attendance from our first Professional Women’s Conference in 2022. After our first annual conference, several attendees volunteered to join the planning committee for the 2023 event. I want to give a special thanks to that group: Jenna M. Krenz, CFSP (Pflanz Mantey Mendrala Funeral Homes), Fawn Schaefer (Ballhorn Chapels), Dawn Nelson (Zacherl Funeral Home), Michelle Reppert (Westgor Funeral Home), Alexandra Shadof (Heritage Funeral Homes), and Carolyn Katz (Cooperative Funeral Fund). I am certain their time and efforts account for the increase in attendance this year. Another huge thank you to the WFDA Leadership Development Foundation and the WFDA Past President Club for proving FIVE scholarships to worthy female and non-binary funeral professionals and students to attend the conference!

The event this year took place April 18-19 at The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake. We gathered on Tuesday evening for a Welcome Reception and roundtable session. It was wonderful to meet other women in the funeral industry and share our experiences with each other. We had some great swag bags that included EOS lip balm, chocolates, and a custom candle from Fox & Ivy (Wautoma). We were also lucky to have several gift baskets that were given throughout the event to encourage participation and bring a little extra joy. 

We had a full day of education on Wednesday starting with a session from Morgan Schlender (NFDA). Morgan helped us refocus on self-care and tuning in with ourselves more regularly. She shared resources provided by NFDA that encourage acknowledging our own well-being. She even got the group up and dancing, which, I think we all can agree, really helped loosen everyone up and added a bit of silliness.

Former 911 operator, Billi Jo Baneck shared her personal experience about grief and the path forward. Her session was powerful and inspiring. We enjoyed Yvonne Slonaker’s engaging presentation about advocating for yourself and defining yourself outside of your profession. Cassandra Steinhaus-Shiner (Pekin Insurance) gave the group some valuable background about women in the funeral industry and trends within funeral service.

After these engaging and educational sessions, attendees were able to participate in the optional activities – Yoga and Jeopardy. 

Some attendees took this time to enjoy spa services at a 20% discount. We gathered again for happy hour and appetizers. It was wonderful to spend quality time with both the people we've known for years and those we just met. 

After the event, we surveyed the attendees to find out how this event can evolve and improve moving forward. We are listening and beginning to plan for 2024! Here are some quotes from attendees:

“It was so nice to be around like-minded women in Funeral Service to connect with.”

“The speaker sessions were incredibly powerful.”

“I loved Jeopardy! It was such a fun ice breaker/ team building experience where we had the opportunity to interact more as friends than simply professionals.”

“My number one takeaway was that we need to reflect on our own time and personal life while we manage the many stressors of being funeral directors.”

We hope to see everyone again next year- and see some new faces too!

Caroline Bowers, Executive Director

Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association

April 25, 2023

Thank you to our 2023 Sponsors!


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