Young Funeral Directors



"Creating opportunities for professional and social development while encouraging communication and collaboration between young funeral professionals."

Bailey R. Byrd, Columbus
Jenn M. Schlosser, Wapakoneta

Lauren M. Buzzard, Gahanna
Holly R. Colwell, Columbus
Jacob Eldridge, Troy
Megan J. Estep, New Carlisle
Kyle A. Eveland, CFSP, Crooksville
Alexys Gribble-Manning, Cincinnati
Myles S. Kalina-Hammond, Strongsville
Joshua L. Majors, Springfield
Elizabeth "Liz" A. Mencke, Parma
Maryanna Pappas, Batavia
Lindsey E. Rathje, Dayton
Kurt A. Seeley, West Liberty
Brittany Waits, Hillsboro

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YFD Events

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Growing Trends in Funeral Service: Alternatives to Tradition

Hosted by the OFDA Young Funeral Directors Group

February 22, 2024


Registration: IS NOW CLOSED 

Please call Marilyn Evans at (614) 486-5339 for last minute availability. 

  • Members: $25.00
  • Non-Members: $40.00
  • Mortuary Students: Students are welcome to attend at OFDA Member Rate/Discount

By registering for this event, you consent that photos and videos of you at the event may be published in print, online or in online photo albums; on photo/video-sharing sites such as YouTube; on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+; and in other web-based media at the sole discretion of OFDA.

Continuing Education:

  • 2 CE Hours, General, approved with the State of Ohio Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors
  • This is a Public, In-person Only CE Event and open to all licensees.


  • 5:30 PM: Welcome
  • 6:00 - 7:00 PM: What Is Green Burial, and How Can You Add It to What You Offer?
  • 7:00 - 8:00 PM: The Role of a Death Doula at the End of Life
  • 8:00 - 9:00 PM: Social

Program Summary:

What Is Green Burial, and How Can You Add It to What You Offer?
Mr. Bill Gupton, Founder, former President, and current Cemetery Manager of Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary will provide an overview of natural burial, what is allowed and what is not, the benefits thereof both for families and for the environment. Mr. Gupton will also walk through the steps involved for funeral directors and funeral homes in working with a green burial cemetery for a burial, then answer any questions and be available for discussion.

The Role of a Death Doula at the End of Life
Death Doulas are a new and emerging specialty in end-of-life care. Where hospice provides clinical care, death doulas provide non-clinical services related to planning, legacy, meaning making, and providing emotional support helping to reduce the fear and anxiety associated with death. A death doula can also provide bedside support to the dying person and the family and perform rituals to mark the sacred transition. Given the death phobic state in our culture, it is important for death doulas to provide public education about death awareness. If one can cultivate a relationship to death, it enhances living and there is no age limit on enhancing living. This knowledge will be beneficial to funeral directors because it will allow them to have understanding about this new technique should they have a family they are working with that utilizes the services of a doula; this will provide further insight on what the family has been privy to leading up to the funeral arrangements and/or services. It is extremely important that funeral service professionals understand the role death doulas play and the relationship they too have with the families they serve.


Bill GuptonBill Gupton
Cemetery Manager
Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary

Bill Gupton is the Founder, former President, and current Cemetery Manager of Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary (, a non-profit 501(c)3 cemetery that is the only completely natural or “green” burial ground in the Cincinnati and Tri-State region. He is certified in Green Burial Cemetery Operation by the Green Burial Council ( Heritage Acres is located on 40 acres of former farmland in Pierce Township, on the east side of Cincinnati, just outside I-275.

Jen BlalockJen Blalock
Death Doula, End-of-Life Guide
Death Doula Cincinnati

Jen Blalock is the founder of Death Doula Cincinnati providing death doula services to the Southwest Ohio region. Along with providing planning, legacy, bedside and emotional support to people and families at the end of life, Jen also dedicates herself to providing public education on the topic of death awareness.


Venue generously sponsored by the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science (CCMS)
645 W. North Bend Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45224



Annual Distinguished Service Award 


  • Nominee must be an OFDA member in good standing and under 40 years of age in the year nominated.
  • Nominee may not have previously received this award.
  • Self-nominations will not be accepted.
  • It is the nominator’s responsibility to summarize the nominee’s achievements, accomplishments and impact on others in sufficient detail to document why this nominee should be recognized for outstanding service in the funeral service profession.


This annual award is to be presented to the Ohio Funeral Directors Association Young Funeral Director who meets the following qualifications:

  • Exhibits outstanding citizenship in the community; serving the community by assisting with activities or organizations that strengthen and improve the community.
  • Exhibits a level of professionalism that exemplifies the attributes of a professional funeral director and maintains the confidence of the personal and business relationships with those served.
  • Supports professional organizations in their efforts to improve the standards of funeral service and to lend a voice in censure against those who would deter these efforts.

Submission Instructions:

  • All nominations must be received by OFDA prior to March 1, 2024, during the period November 30, 2023 through February 29, 2024 for consideration.
  • Nominations must be submitted through our online form.
  • Only one candidate nomination per submission form.

We suggest you draft your answers in a Word document before submitting your nomination online. For your convenience, the nomination questions are listed below and we ask that each response is 150 words or less:

  • Describe how the nominee has demonstrated outstanding citizenship in the community. This answer should reflect previous or ongoing contributions of service to their residential community and provide examples of involvement within activities or organizations that strengthen and improve the community.
  • Describe how the nominee has displayed an exceptional level of professionalism and leadership qualities within funeral service and has maintained the confidence of the personal and business relationships with those served.
  • Describe how the nominee supports professional organizations in their efforts to improve the standards of funeral service and lends a voice in censure against those who deter these efforts, citing specific examples and/or situations.
  • Describe any additional supporting information that you believe important when reviewing this nominee for consideration for this award.

Should you have questions or prefer an alternate submission method, please contact Marilyn Evans at

For examples of ideal submission content, please  CLICK HERE.

Rules of Procedure and Operation

Nominations for the Distinguished Service Award can be made to OFDA by colleagues, mentors, managers or supervisors of nominees. Award winner is selected by members of the following: 

  • OFDA Young Funeral Directors Committee
  • The OFDA Board of Directors 
  • Executive Director of OFDA

*If nominated, members of the YFD Committee and OFDA Board of Directors must recuse themselves from group that selects award winner. 

  • The top three (3) scored candidates will receive a complimentary OFDA convention single-day registration in the year selected and will be recognized during the Awards Ceremony.
  • Award will be presented and announced at the OFDA Convention and Exhibition during the Awards Ceremony each year at the annual convention to the selected recipient, and the recipient’s name will be added to the permanent Distinguished Service Award Plaque on display at the OFDA office.
  • The selected recipient will receive $500 towards an OFDA continuing education course or funeral industry convention in hopes of encouraging their continued growth as a funeral professional.
  • A press release will be prepared and made available to award recipient and will be shared within OFDA media network.


Awards are provided at the discretion of the Ohio Funeral Directors Association. OFDA has the right to deny applicant an award if qualification standards are not met.

The Ohio Funeral Directors Association treats all distinguished service award applicants without regard to race, sex, color, national origin or ancestry, religion, political affiliation, veteran status, disability or handicap, affectional or sexual orientation, or marital status.

Nominations will be accepted November 30, 2023 - February 29, 2024.



Award Recipients

Roger D. Carson Jr.

2023: Roger D. Carson, Jr. of The House of Day Funeral Services, Toledo

Katie Mackoway

2022: Katie V. Mackoway of Stubbs-Conner Funeral Home, Waynesville

Elizabeth J. Woodward

2021: Elizabeth J. Woodward of Hoskins Funeral Home, Lebanon

Jay J. Foster 

2020Jay J. Foster of J.E. Foster Funeral Home, Toronto

Stephanie R. Dyer

2019: Stephanie R. Dyer of Cahall Funeral Home, Mt. Orab