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Green Funeral Conference
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Green Funeral Conference

 Export to Your Calendar 10/2/2019 to 10/4/2019
Where: Santa Ana Star Casino
54 Jemez Canyon Dam Road
Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico  87004
United States
Contact: CANA Staff

Online registration is available until: 10/2/2019
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As a death care professional, you know it is essential to be prepared to meet family needs and provide expert guidance. Consumers want their funerals to reflect their lives, and that often includes incorporating green values. Though there are widely varying definitions of “green,” the requests for green funerals, or even just greener options, will continue to increase.

Over 200 U.S. cemeteries—nearly every state has at least one—offer some type of green burial option. Whether in natural burial grounds, conservation preserves, or hybrid cemeteries, it is becoming easier for those who want a green burial to have one.

Not sure how to serve families who want a greener option? Or do you already offer these options but want to network and gain ideas for promoting them within your community? Join Passages International and the Cremation Association of North America October 2-4, 2019 in Albuquerque, NM as we come together to explore the shades of green when it comes to funeral practices. Then plan to stay through the weekend for the International Balloon Fiesta!

This program has been approved for 9.0 Continuing Education hours by the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice. 

Download our Advance Program to see everything we have planned for the first-ever Green Funeral Conference.


Program Schedule

Wednesday, October 2             

5:00p – 7:00p          Welcome gathering in the hotel bar

Thursday, October 3                

7:30a                        Continental breakfast

8:00a                        Welcome remarks

8:15a – 12:00p        Green fundamentals, marketing & selling green, legal and cultural trends

12:00p – 1:00p        Lunch

1:00p – 4:00p          Practitioner panel, shrouding best practices

4:45p                        Bus departs for Passages International, Inc

5:00p – 7:00p          Reception at Passages International, Inc

Friday, October 4

8:30a                        Continental breakfast

9:00a – 12:30p        Consumer preferences, manufacturer panel, roundtables




Ed Bixby
President, Green Burial Council

Ed Bixby is the owner and operator of Steelmantown Green Burial Preserve in Steelmantown, NJ, as well as Purissima Natural Burial Ground in Half Moon Bay, CA. Ed’s extensive background in land use and development includes being a licensed New Jersey real estate broker and the owner of Fox and Fox Builders, LLC. Ed’s experience in the development industry has provided keen insight into better land use practices and drives his passion for the natural burial movement and the benefits it provides to the present and future generations. Ed has led presentations on natural burial for numerous organizations and has provided educational training for both funeral directors and cemeterians alike. Ed resides in southern New Jersey with his two daughters Ava and Mina.

Darren Crouch
President and founder, Passages International, Inc

Darren grew up in South Africa and England before moving to the USA. He co-founded Passages International, Inc. twenty years ago in Taos, New Mexico, when the demand for green and non-traditional funeral options was in its infancy. The orignal concept was to provide funeral directors with a more dignified, eco-friendly temporary container in which to return cremated remains when a family declined an urn. Today, Passages Internatioal is a global leader in biodegradable urns, eco-firendly caskets, shrouds and more, giving funeral homes everywhere new and unique options to meet the rapily changing demands of families.

Darren has presented at the NFDA and ICCFA conventions, as well as participated in green festivals around the country. He also serves on the board of the Green Burial Council. "It has been very rewarding to help funeral homes remain relevant and profitable amid the changing and less-traditional funeral landscape," says Crouch.


Linda Canyon and Donal Key
Natural Burial New Mexico

Donal and Linda, having worked for decades in end of life care participating intimately with the dying and their families, saw the need for an environmentally sound, respectful, low cost, kind, gentle burial and this became their mission. Donal and Linda are founders of Natural Burial New Mexico and La Puerta Natural Burial Ground, a 40-acre cemetery dedicated to green burial, certified by the national Green Burial Council, adjacent to 14,000 acres of conservation land.

Dr. Donal W. Key’s formal education is human development and counseling. He worked for decades in mental health in-patient psychiatric care and private practice, healthcare management, and consulting. He has been a hospice director, educating staff and assisting the dying and their families in obtaining a peaceful death. Dr. Key also hosted The Journey radio show, chronicling people’s end of life stories, and is a national speaker for healthcare providers on Hospice and Palliative Care End of Life Rights and Choices.

Linda Jo Canyon, OTR/L, is a registered, licensed occupational therapist with a dual degree in psychology and specialties in the rehabilitation of cancer patients and hospice and end of life care. She educates and empowers families and friends of the dying in end of life care and assists with burials. Linda is also a long-time national speaker for healthcare providers on the topics of rehabilitation after cancer treatment and Hospice and Palliative Care End of Life Rights and Choices.

Gracie Griffin
Vice President Customer Relations, Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum

Gracie is the VP of Customer Relations for Bellefontaine Cemetery, a licensed funeral director, and the cemetery's green burial specialist. As a former educator, she enjoys providing information and resources to the public regarding death care, and regularly presents on green burial at the cemetery and throughout the community.  Gracie has been involved in the development of the cemetery's marketing materials, social media presence, contracts, sales database, events, and property offerings. Gracie is most passionate about her work with the families she serves.

Esmerelda Kent
CEO, Kinkaraco

Native Californian Esmerelda Kent left a career in show business as a costume designer with the George Lucas company Industrial Light and Magic in 2004 to work  at Fernwood Cemetery pioneering green burial, California's first cemetery to offer this option. Anticipating the trend, she redesigned the ancient burial shroud into a secular 21st Century funeral product for the funeral industry and the public. In 2005 her prototype was purchased by HBO 's "SIX FEET UNDER" and that year she launched KINKARACO® Green Funeral Products selling directly online to the public. In 2008 she was recognized as one of the "Entrepreneurs Re-Inventing the Funeral Industry" in BusinessWeek Magazine. She has spoken at the ICCFA conventions, written articles for American Funeral Director magazine, American cemetery magazine, Nomis publications and Funeral Business Advisor. She lives and manufactures locally in the heart of innovation - San Francisco.

Luis Llorens
President and Chief Engineer, US Cremation Equipment

Tanya Marsh
Professor, Wake Forest University School of Law

Tanya Marsh teaches Property, Real Estate Transactions, a Seminar on Law, Business, and the Economy, Funeral and Cemetery Law, and Professional Development. Her scholarship addresses commercial real estate, the regulation of community banks, and the laws regarding the status, treatment, and disposition of human remains. A graduate of Indiana University and Harvard Law School, before joining the Wake Forest faculty in 2010, Marsh clerked for the Indiana Supreme Court, practiced commercial real estate and corporate law with two large Indianapolis law firms, and spent five years as in-house counsel with a public shopping center REIT. Marsh is involved in the leadership of the American Bar Association's Real Property Trust & Estate Law Section and is a frequent contributor to that section's CLE offerings.

Nicki Mikolai
Sales Manager, Resomation America LLC

Nicki graduated from the University of Minnesota and has been a licensed funeral director for over twenty years. She joined Resomation America in November 2018.

Kilian Rempen
Marketing Manager, Passages International, Inc

Kilian was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he fostered a love of nature and the outdoors while being introduced from a young age to the world of commerce and advertising. After a brief stint touring with a rock band, he studied Marketing and Advertising at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and moved to Colorado where the “green bug” was cemented. After a short time living in Thailand, he returned to Albuquerque to pursue his career, finding the perfect match at Passages International, a company pushing for greener practices in an industry that touches everyone’s life at some point. 

Today, Kilian enjoys being able to spread the word of an environmentally-friendly company, and is delighted to see that the general population of the world is moving towards minimizing their environmental impact.

Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death®

Gail Rubin, CT, is a pioneering death educator who uses humor and funny films to teach about end-of-life topics. An award-winning speaker, she “knocked ‘em dead” at TedxABQ in 2015. She’s the author of three books on end-of-life issues, one of the first people to hold a Death Café in the United States, and the coordinator of the Before I Die New Mexico Festival.

Paul Seyler
Division Manager - Marketing, Matthews Environmental

Since 2017, Paul has been managing marketing, technology and product development activities for Matthews Environmental Solutions. Prior to that he headed Competitive Resources, a consulting firm that has worked with companies in a wide range of industries, including all parts of the death care business.

Sam Sieber
VP of Research, Bio-Response Solutions

Sam is a biologist by degree. She joined her family's Indiana business to advance the use of non-burn technologies in the biosafety field, but quickly fell in love the funeral profession. Since 2009, she has worked alongside funeral professionals to make alkaline hydrolysis an option for families. As a former biology teacher, Sam has a great passion for providing education to the profession, regulators, and consumers. She helped found her city's local Go Greener Commission, which promotes environmental health in the community. She also leads a Young Entrepreneurs group at her alma mater, Purdue University.

Glenda Stansbury
Marketing & Development Director, InSight Institute

Glenda Stansbury joined InSight in 1996 as Marketing & Development Director. She has worked as an educator, teacher trainer, and seminar developer. She is a practicing Celebrant, adjunct professor at the University of Central Oklahoma Funeral Department and is a licensed funeral director/embalmer.



Registration is $495 and includes two continental breakfasts, lunch and the reception at Passages International. Register online at the button above or by calling the CANA offices.



A block of rooms has been reserved at the Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel for $155/night plus taxes. To reserve, call 844-466-2378, and provide code 906 (or mention the Cremation Association of North American block) to receive the discounted rate. This rate is good the evenings of October 2 and 3, as well as two days prior based on availability. For those wishing to stay over for the International Balloon Fiesta, we have a rate of $209/night for the nights of October 4 and 5.



Passages International, Inc, lead sponsor for this event, invites all attendees to a reception featuring hors d’oeuvres and drinks and a tour of the Passages facility. Bus transportation to and from Passages and the hotel will be provided.


International Balloon Fiesta

The International Balloon Fiesta kicks off on October 5. If you plan to stay over for the weekend, we have a rate of $209 at the Santa Ana for the nights of October 4th and 5th. Space is limited.

Looking for a place to watch the launch Saturday morning? Head over to the parking lot at Passages International and have a mimosa while you enjoy the view from this prime location!