WFDA held our the First Annual Professional Women's Conference on April 19, 2022. Hosting this event has been a goal of our Immediate Past President, Jenna Krenz, CFSP, for a few years. The past two years threw a wrench into everyone's plans, including ours, so we were thrilled for this opportunity to come together to kick off the first of many Professional Women's Conferences. The conference is focused on women in the funeral service industry, networking, continuing education, and relaxation.
The year's event was held at Destination Kohler, a five star resort in Kohler, Wisconsin. We kicked off our day with a lovely brunch full of fruit, quiche, smoothies and more. The first session was a roundtable moderated by Jenna Krenz, CFSP of Pflanz Mantey Mendrala Funeral Home in Portage and Fawn Schaefer, of Ballhorn and Zimmer Westview Funeral Homes in Sheboygan. Both funeral directors are members of the WFDA Board of Directors and led the efforts to plan this event. They came up with a few topics and questions to start conversations. Attendees quickly began engaging and sharing their stories and lessons learned through their careers. We had attendees from all stages in their career and it was fascinating to hear from and learn from each other.
Following our group discussions, we were treated to a presentation from Ruthann Disotell titled "No Time to Cry - Tales of a Grieving Mortician". Ruthann is a Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer, Life Celebrant, and Director of www.celebrationofalifetime.com and www.oaktags.com. This presentation focused on how funeral directors often put aside their own grief to care for others. Ruthann helped provide attendees with awareness of grief triggers, a fresh look at caring for grieving staff, and tools for emergency planning for absentee staff.
We continued our day with a session from Jessica Koth, Director of Public Relations at the National Funeral Directors Association, and Kelly Manion, Director of Community Engagement with the Funeral Service Foundation. The session, "It's Not a Competition", focused on one of the most challenging things for female and nonbinary individuals in funeral service (and other industries) - the conflicts they experience with other females and nonbinary persons. Sometimes, a “competition mentality” overshadows opportunities to support and collaborate with one another. Attendees were able to hold a constructive dialogue and learn why this competition mentality exists and how they can break the cycle to improve communication and working relationships with other female and nonbinary colleagues.
After these engaging and educational sessions, attendees were able to meet for a private yoga class at Yoga on the Lake. They focused on relaxation and self-care. Other attendees chose to partake in spa sessions and rest in their hotel rooms. We were able to secure a 20% off discount on all spa services for our attendees. Attendees were encouraged to stay overnight to enjoy the spa services offered. We gathered again for happy hour and dinner at the Horse & Plow. It was wonderful to spend quality time with both the people we've known for years and those we just met.
This conference was a huge success and WFDA is proud of our diverse and dynamic membership. We hope to offer more opportunities for our members to connect in different ways and learn from each other. We have already begun planning for next year's Professional Women's Conference and are excited to continue this valuable opportunity. Do you have ideas you'd like to share for the next conference or another event? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.