2022 IFDF Annual Conference Keynote Speaker - Lesley Witter, MPA, CAE
Lesley Witter, MPA, CAE
Senior Vice President, Advocacy
National Funeral Directors Association
will give the keynote presentation on
"How the Treatment of Deceased Bodies May Impact Funeral Service in Your State"
9:30 am EDT
Protecting Dignity, Offering Peace of Mind.
Families who choose to donate their loved one’s body for scientific research do so with the hope that their gift will make a difference for others. However, unscrupulous body brokers have been causing pain and anguish by abusing bodies entrusted to their care. From bodies being dismembered with chainsaws to families receiving sand instead of their loved one’s cremated remains – it’s one devastating story after another. There are no federal regulations governing this process. NFDA has been actively working to pass legislation that would help eliminate these tragic stories. Learn more about the history of this issue; the tragic stories of donor families; the solution provided by The Consensual Donation and Research Integrity Act of 2021; and how you can help pass this bill to protect funeral service and give peace of mind to the families entrusted to your care.
About the Presenter
Senior Vice President of Advocacy, Lesley Witter’s background encompasses more than 25 years of legislative, regulatory, political, and management experience. Since joining the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) in January 2007, Lesley has worked closely with the Nation’s legislators, regulators, and their staff to highlight the importance of the funeral profession and to advance NFDA’s legislative and regulatory initiatives on Capitol Hill and with federal agencies.
Lesley is NFDA’s chief lobbyist for legislative and regulatory issues, including directing the Association’s legislative agenda which has included successfully advocating for the passage of The Corey Shea Act [P.L. 111-275], which grants parents of deceased veterans the right to be buried with their children if the veteran has no living spouse or minor children. Lesley also led the charge in advocating for the passage of the BRAVE Act [P.L. 116-315], which updates veteran burial benefits to ensure veterans are not penalized for where they die and are treated equally based on their service, not the circumstances at their time of death. Lesley also directs the Association’s regulatory agenda including the industry-wide Formaldehyde Exposure Study in 2021 and provided comments and scientific data to the EPA.
Lesley serves as the primary funeral service liaison to Federal and State governments and offers technical information on final disposition, funeral customs, best practices, supply chain and logistics, stress management in mortuary operations, embalming, cremation, mobilizing volunteers, and coordinates the funeral service response to mass fatality. She provides expert guidance to the Administration, CDC, HHS, DHS, DoD, VA, State OCME, State EOC, the VA, DoD, USNORTHCOM, USNORAD, DHS, HHS, CDC, FEMA, EPA, OSHA, DoL, and DoT among many others. Throughout the COVID pandemic, Lesley provided funeral service expertise to both federal and state governments and was instrumental in providing content and review for official guidance including inclusion of funeral service professional as essential workers, PPE and vaccine priority, and the creation of the FEMA COVID funeral reimbursement.
Before joining NFDA, Lesley served as a lobbyist for the American Chiropractic Association where she successfully worked for the passage of two specific chiropractic bills into law, including successfully advocating to pass legislation that created the first permanent chiropractic benefit in the VA [P.L. 107-135] health care system. Lesley also worked in the Washington, D.C. office of Coors Brewing Company.
Lesley has a Bachelor’s in Government and International Relations and a Master’s in Public Administration from George Mason University and is a Certified Association Executive (CAE).
Presentation Experience: Lesley has rpresented funeral service by providing oral testimony before the United States Congress on three separate occasions. She frequently speaks at the highest level of the federal government including numerous high-level meetings at the White House and with federal agencies. She was the highest rated speaker at the NFDA Professional Women’s Conference when she spoke on finding your voice, personal and political advocacy, and how what happens in Washington, D.C. relates to everyday life. She regularly presents at key NFDA events including the annual Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C., the Annual International Convention and Expo, and the Leadership Conference. She is a regular guest on several funeral service podcasts. In conjunction with FEMA, Lesley presented the first three webinars on the FEMA Funeral Assistance funding, including NFDA’s highest attended webinar ever.