IFDF Funeral Profession 2022 Series - Interview with Monica Torres

Posted By: Ruth Bedell, PhD, QAS Funeral Profession Blog,

IFDF Blog Series
Funeral Profession 2022 ~ Perspectives and Influencers

The Independent Funeral Directors of Florida's mission is to promote, enhance and perpetuate independently owned and operated funeral homes, crematory, and cemetery firms in the state of Florida.

Each month for our blog, Colette Kemp, IFDF Communications Committee Co-Chair, interviews people from our profession's best of the best.

For this month's blog, Ms. Kemp shares her experience at the NFDA Professional Women’s Conference in Miami, where she caught up with Monica Torres, who is speaking at our IFDF annual conference in June.

NFDA Professional Women's Conference
April 29 – May 1, 2022
The Confidante Hotel | Miami Beach, FL

Last month the NFDA Women Making Waves Miami conference was a three-day event that brought together female leaders in the industry to discuss how they can make their impact on the world.

This event was an excellent opportunity for women in the industry to come together and connect with other female professionals. Many speakers provided a different perspective on their career paths and how they got to where they are today.

One hundred twenty women attendees consisted of Funeral Directors and embalmers, suppliers, educators, and business professionals. This was a sold-out event and a huge success!


The event kicked off with an opening reception and a 2-hour dinner cruise along the beautiful Miami coastline sponsored by the Funeral Service Foundation. https://www.funeralservicefoundation.org/



Following a fun night of socializing, getting to know each other, and what was for many “catching up” after a difficult two years, we were up bright and early on Saturday, ready to hear the speakers.  Our day was hosted by  Melissa Posey Loose, MA, LFD Training and Development Manager at NFDA.


An inspiring speaker lineup is key to any successful event, and NFDA did not disappoint.  The speakers provided valuable content combined with personal stories and experiences that inspired and motivated attendees.

The opening speaker Dr. Jody Carrington is a psychologist. She spoke to us about mental health issues that have occurred during the pandemic and when a loss is experienced. According to her bio, Dr. Carrington focuses much of her work around reconnection – the key to healthy relationships and productive teams.

Annette R. March-Grier, RN, CFSP, is the co-founder and president of Roberta‘s house. She spoke with us about her family business March Funeral Homes, in Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia. She shared her journey from being a nurse and a mortician to becoming the visionary of Roberta’s house. Ms. March-Grier built a beautiful facility that supports people through grief education with particular attention to grieving children and families in Baltimore.


The Vice President of marketing and technology at Batesville, Jenn Parvin, gave a motivational speech about goal setting. She shared a heartwarming story of determination in honor of a friend lost. She gave us tools to set goals and ensure we achieve them.

Jenny McClanahan and Kelly Kohut, both from Precoa gave a unique presentation. Have you ever noticed when you are at events that, after a while, people tend to get their phones out even though they keep them tucked below the table?

These ladies told everybody to get their cell phones out, and they had us interact with a collaborative and fun presentation. It made the presentation engaging and kept everyone's attention.

As they presented on the topic of marketing, they asked questions, and the answers were surveyed on the presentation screen.

One of the questions they asked us was, what’s your biggest challenge at the moment in funeral service? And here, you can see the results as a real live survey was taken as people punched their answers into their cell phones.


Over the weekend in Miami, I met many women at this event who were in their second career and had previously been in a different industry. They had been on a different career path and decided to join funeral service to do more meaningful work.

We also got to meet the recipients of the Funeral Service Foundation scholarships, and that was a wonderful thing to see. Lisa Baue introduced us to the recipients over lunch, and one of those recipients was Monica Torres, who is speaking at the IFDF annual conference coming up this month (June 8-10, 2022).

Monica and I got to catch up, and here’s what she had to say about her experience while in Miami.

Colette Kemp: Monica, I know you usually speak at events you attend. How was this event for you as an attendee and a scholarship recipient?

Monica Torres: The whole program was run flawlessly. All the little details were what made it really an awesome experience. We were provided with networking opportunities like a sunset bay cruise and time at lunch (which was an amazing healthy Cuban-inspired menu). The speakers were all of high caliber, and the event was multicultural, which I find so important for a mentoring program.


Colette Kemp: What advice would you give other female professionals considering attending the event next year who would like to participate in the scholarship program?

Monica Torres: My advice would be to apply for the scholarship. Many times scholarships go unawarded because people simply do not apply. Give yourself about a week to compile the application, as the video submission can take some time.

Colette Kemp: What was your biggest takeaway from the weekend at this conference?

Monica Torres: My biggest takeaway was just how important it is for women in funeral service to network and create community.

Colette Kemp: Thank you, Monica, for sharing your thoughts, and we are excited to see you at the IFDF annual conference in Orlando in June, where you will be back on stage as a presenter!

Monica Torres: I am so excited to be there in Florida to share my ideas, and I invite all participants, even those who are not embalmers, to come explore the future of Embalming with me! Can’t wait to meet you all face to face!


20 ALL-INCLUSIVE SCHOLARSHIPS were available to female and non-binary funeral professionals and students. Monica Torres was one of them pictured here with Lisa Baue at the Funeral Service Foundation Scholarship Recognition Lunch. To learn more about the DAVID C. BAUE NFDA PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S CONFERENCE SCHOLARSHIPS, visit: https://www.funeralservicefoundation.org/scholarship-opportunities/nfda-professional-womens-conference-scholarships/


In closing, I would highly recommend attending this event in the future if you are a female funeral professional. One of the many things that NFDA did well was to schedule this event over a weekend. It ran on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, making it easier to attend even if you have a busy work schedule. Attendees also brought their significant others and children, which is an excellent idea if you need a family getaway or some R&R.

Thank you to the NFDA for such a well-put-together and inspiring event, and I look forward to seeing everyone next year and I may even have made some lifelong friends!