2017 Conference Presenters

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Our 2017 Conference Presenters

The NHFA Conference wouldn’t be possible without the expert voices that drive our movement forward. Learn more about the speakers, presenters, and educators that will be leading our sessions at this year’s event. Presenters are listed alphabetically by presentations.

The Unbroken Circle — Jubilee Room Friday 7:30 – 9:00

Lucinda Herring

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, Lucinda HerringLucinda has worked in the home funeral/ green burial movement since the early 1990’s, as interfaith minister/celebrant, home funeral guide, and green licensed funeral director.  Her business, Thresholds Consulting and Ministry (Limina LLC) provides end of life planning and educational and consultation services dedicated to empowering families and communities to care for their own dead in nourishing, creative, healing and sustainable ways. She has been a Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhist practitioner for 24 years and has had the great honor of supporting Tibetan families and a high Tibetan lama with vigils, spiritual care and practices after death.

NoorudDean Abu Ibraheem

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, Ibraheem

Brother NoorudDean Abu Ibraheem Rabah is a founder and director of the Janazah Project, a Tri-State Brooklyn-based group that provides qualifying with proper Janazah according to the Qur’aan and Sunnah, without the expensive costs of funeral homes and cemeteries. The Janazah Project also provides workshops, group reminders, hospital visits, grief counseling and opportunities for other brothers and sisters to learn and participate in real washing and shrouding cases.

David Zinner

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, Zinner

David Zinner is the founder and Executive Director of Kavod v’Nichum working to restore traditions and values of honoring the dead and comforting the bereaved. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Gamliel Institute, a center for leadership training and advocacy of traditional Jewish practice supporting care at the end of life.


Everybody Can Be an Advocate: Here’s HowJubilee Room Saturday 9:00 – 10:15a

Renée Flaherty

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, FlahertyRenée D. Flaherty is an attorney with the Institute for Justice. She joined the Institute in 2013 and litigates cases to secure property rights and economic liberty in federal and state courts. In 2016, Renée represented Shelia Champion, the owner of a green cemetery in Huntsville, Alabama, who successfully challenged a state law giving funeral homes a monopoly on casket sales. Renée’s views have been published in USA Today and The Wall Street Journal among many other state and local media outlets. Prior to joining the Institute for Justice, Renée worked in private practice as a tax controversy associate at the Washington, D.C., office of Bingham McCutchen, LLP. She received her law degree from Harvard Law School in 2011.

Tanya Marsh

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, MarshTanya D. Marsh is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Law. A graduate of Indiana University and Harvard Law School, she is a licensed attorney in the State of Indiana and a licensed funeral director in the State of California. Tanya created and teaches the only course on funeral and cemetery law in a U.S. law school. She is the author of The Law of Human Remains (2015), the first treatise on the subject in 70 years, and the co-author (with Daniel Gibson) of Cemetery Law: The Common Law of Burying Grounds in the United States (2015), the first casebook in the subject. She is the founder and primary author of The Funeral Law Blog.

Josh Slocum


Slocum is the voice of funeral consumer rights and expert commentator to the media, including spots on 60 Minutes and National Public Radio, and interviews carried by every major outlet. Along with Lisa Carlson, Slocum authored the book Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death.


Building Bridges: Advocating to Hospices & Hospitals

Jubilee Room Saturday 10:45 – 12p

Fabio Lomelino

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, LomelinoFabio Lomelino is the Bereavement Support and Outreach Coordinator for Gilchrist Services, where he offers individual grief counseling, specialized support groups, community workshops, and training for professionals. Fabio holds a masters in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola University Maryland and uses narrative therapy to facilitate the process of making meaning after a loss so as to turn the pain of loss into purpose for living. Before joining Gilchrist, Fabio led national community outreach projects for an immigrant services non-profit and worked in public television.

Sarah Quinn

Sarah QuinnSarah Quinn has over 17 years of healthcare experience and over a decade of death care service in the hospital setting of a large Virginia health system. She attended mortuary school but did not license, choosing to use her skills and interests in serving grieving families of patients who have passed away in the hospital.

Lee Webster

Lee WebsterA career researcher, writer and editor, Lee Webster is also Director of New Hampshire Funeral Resources, Education & Advocacy, and Education Coordinator for the Green Burial Council Board of Directors. Along with 30 years’ experience as hospice volunteer and spiritual care coordinator, she is a frequent speaker on home funerals, green burial, and funeral reform on the local and national front. Her career and volunteer service spans years in public relations and development for nonprofits, conservation groups, health agencies, private secondary schools, colleges and universities.



Everybody Wins: Working With AuthoritiesJubilee Room Saturday 1:00 – 2:15p

 Ruth Ann Arty

2017 NHFA Biennial ConferenceRuth Ann Arty has been the Executive Director of the Maryland Board of Morticians since 2011, previously having been the Board’s investigator and inspector. Ruth Ann holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Mental Health and has been a longtime advocate for, “those that cannot speak for themselves”.  She prides herself in being supportive to consumers and licensees alike. Previous to being employed by the Boards in 2004, she was a criminal investigator with the Child Abuse and Sexual Assault unit out of the Maryland State Police, a social worker at DSS, an alcohol counselor and a Mental Health Professional with the chronically mentally ill.

Char Barrett

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference-Char Barrett, A Sacred MomentFounder of A Sacred Moment Funeral Services, Char specializes in assisting families with directing funerals in their own homes and green burial services.  Beyond her degree in Mortuary Science and formal training as a licensed funeral director, Char has been trained and is an experienced home funeral guide and funeral celebrant. Char has lectured to local, national and international audiences. She was the first president of the National Home Funeral Alliance, Advisory Board Member of the Lake Washington Institute of Technology Funeral Service program, and Steering Committee member of the Washington End of Life Coalition – an affiliate organization to the Washington State Medical Association.

Bruce Goldfarb

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, GoldfarbBruce Goldfarb is executive assistant and public information officer for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, (OCME), the statewide agency designated by law to investigate deaths from injury, homicide, suicide, under unusual or suspicious circumstances, or when a person is not attended by a physician. He received his B.S. degree in emergency health services from University of Maryland, Baltimore County.


Saturday Film Screenings

Heidi Boucher, In the Parlor: The Final Goodbye

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference-Heidi BoucherHeidi Boucher has been involved with independent film, television and theater for over 20 years, starting as a PBS set designer and art director. She has written, produced and directed several award-winning feature films, shorts, music videos, commercials, broadcast TV and stage productions. Her latest documentary is In the Parlor: The Final Goodbye, a film that draws on over 3 decades of home funeral death care guide experience. Heidi will join us on Skype.


Zenith Virago, Zen and the Art of Dying

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, Zenith ViragoZenith Virago has spent the past 20 years working with death and dying supporting individuals and their family and friends in the preparation and integration of the dying process including giving practical, legal and spiritual care and holding funeral ceremonies. With a legal background she also assists people to have a holistic, meaningful, sustainable experience, including the DIY process for care of the body and rites of passage.  Zen is the founder of the Natural Death Centre, and co-author of The Intimacy of Death & Dying, (Allen & Unwin 2009).  She is also the subject of the 2015 documentary Zen and the Art of Dying, by Broderick Fox, USA.


Sunday Skills Sessions

Amy Cunningham

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, Amy CunninghamAmy Cunningham is a New York funeral director and home funeral guide trained by Jerrigrace Lyons and Olivia Bareham. She was a magazine journalist for 35 years prior to her decision to go to mortuary school in 2009. She founded Fitting Tribute Funeral Services in 2016, and sustains the blog The Inspired Funeral. She feels that legacy work and storytelling are an integral part of the hospice period and everyone’s funeral planning.

Lee Hoyt

Lee HoytAfter many years as a classroom biology and English teacher, Lee Hoyt became involved in Tibetan Buddhism and hospice work. As a natural outgrowth of both, she joined the grassroots movement that supports families caring for their own at death. In 2009, she co-founded Threshold Support Circle which provides a forum for exploring end of life issues and after death care through guest speakers, workshops, and film series. She is a hospice volunteer and end-of-life doula with Gilchrist Hospice Care in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition, she is a Home Funeral Guide and a graduate of The Metta Institute for End of Life Professionals.

Jerrigrace Lyons

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, Jerrigrace LyonsJerrigrace Lyons, minister, death educator and midwife, founded the non-profit Final Passages in 1995 to inform people about little known funeral options, conscious dying, natural death care rights and practicalities, green burial and the benefits of bringing funerals back into the home and family care. Her pioneering work in guiding hundreds of family-directed home funerals has been featured in worldwide publications and in the PBS documentary, “A Family Undertaking”. She has also created and developed a 3-tiered certificate program in the field of conscious dying, spiritual midwifery, home funeral guidance and green burial called, “Honoring Life’s Final Passage”. She is a board member emeritus of the National Home Funeral Alliance.

Merilynne Rush

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, Merilynne RushMerilynne Rush, RN, BSN, former home birth midwife and hospice nurse, is an End-of-Life Doula Trainer, Respecting Choices® Facilitator and Instructor, home funeral guide, and green burial educator. She holds a graduate certificate in Hospice and Palliative Studies, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree. Rush owns two end-of-life related businesses, Lifespan Doula Association, and After Death Home Care, and founded and facilitates the Ann Arbor Death Café, the longest standing Death Café in the world, meeting monthly since 2012. She is a community activist, frequent speaker on natural death care, and past board member of the Green Burial Council and the National Home Funeral Alliance.

Claire Turnham

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, Claire TurnhamClaire is the UK-based Founder of Only with Love and Chair of the Home Funeral Network. She is dedicated to empowering and guiding families to tenderly take care of their own and can undertake all aspects of a home and family led funeral. She is recognised internationally as a leading home funeral guide, advocate, independent celebrant and natural deathcare educator. She was awarded Runner Up Green Funeral Director of the Year and Commended for her OWL funeral services at the 2016 Good Funeral Awards. Claire regularly facilitates Death Cafes within Oxfordshire and is Gatehouse volunteer.

Steve Waldman

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, WaldmanSteve Waldman founded the multi-faith religion and spirituality website Beliefnet.com in 1999, and has enjoyed a long career in journalism. He has written for Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal and the New Republic. He wrote the book “Founding Faith,” a history of America’s religious liberty in 2009. He created the life milestone and memorial platform LifePosts.com in 2016, which now boasts thousands of creative life tributes and obituaries.


Kim Adams

Photo of Kim AdamsKim Adams, CPC, LMT is a certified, professional End of Life Coach and hospice volunteer. Her work with death/dying began in the late 1980’s with people with HIV/AIDS. In addition, she is a Reiki practitioner and massage therapist. Kim’s business Powerful U: End of Life and Advance Care Planning/Coaching  focuses on supporting people to ‘create the roadmap NOW for the final chapter of their life.’  Along with working with individuals, families, and community groups, Kim is a speaker and conference presenter on death and dying, grief, loss, and Advance Care Planning. She is also a trained home funeral guide and Advisory Board Member of Threshold Support Circle in Baltimore, MD.


Kateyanne Unullisi

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, Kateyanne UnullisiKateyanne is a Seattle, WA Funeral Celebrant and Home Funeral Guide. Through her company, The Emerge Foundation,  She works to educate and empower people to have the kind of positive death experiences she knows are possible. As a board member of the National Home Funeral Alliance, she wants folks to care for their own as much as they are able. As a funeral celebrant, she is known for creating memorials and celebrations of life that help bring healing and connection. She co-authored Home Funeral Ceremonies: A primer to honor the dying and the dead with reverence, light-heartedness and grace with Donna Belk.



Nina Thompson will facilitate ‘The Unbroken Circle’ on Friday, and ‘Everybody Can Be An Advocate,’ ‘Building Bridges,’ and ‘Everybody Wins’ on Saturday.

Nina Thompson, facilitator

2017 NHFA Biennial Conference, Nina ThompsonNina Thompson founded the Wake Up to Dying Project in 2013 and is currently consulting with organizations working in the death awareness movement. She brings 20+ years of entrepreneurial and business-consulting experience to the industry. She is experienced in community organizing, project management, event production, political campaigns, and organizational development. Nina draws her passion and capacity for this work from her experience founding and managing the Wake Up to Dying Project over five years, hospice and chaplaincy volunteer work and Zen meditation practice.

Sharon Moore, Threshold Celebrant, will invite us to explore the idea of home through ritual and ceremony throughout the weekend.

Sharon Moore, Threshold Celebrant

Sharon believes that by honoring life’s divine moments, love can grow and flourish. She has been creating and performing threshold rituals for over a decade.  An ordained minister, spiritual counselor, Reiki Master, and end of life guide, she believes that conscious action aligns us with our divine path and that we must intentionally and boldly claim our purpose.  She utilizes sacred ritual and ceremony as a beautiful and expressive way to acknowledge our blessings and intentions. Learn more about Sharon’s practice, Alchemical Touch.