May 132019

VFDA Traveling Caravans are coming to 3 locations in 2020; there is probably one happening near you. This is your opportunity to receive all of your continuing education in one day!

Register online or if you prefer to complete your order by mail, you can print a hard copy of the Registration Form.

2019-2020 Traveling Continuing Education Caravans
January 26-27, 2020 Virginia Funeral Directors Association Winter Conference, The Quirk Hotel, Richmond, Virginia ** You MUST register for the VFDA Winter Conference**
March 24, 2020 Holiday Inn Tanglewood, 4468 Starkey Road, Roanoke, Virginia
March 26, 2020 Hampton Inn, 705 England Street, Ashland, Virginia

Schedule of Events

8:30 a.m. – Registration
9:00-10:00 a.m. – Preneed Updates, James Ruggerio, Lakeland Preneed Planning, LLC (1.0)
10:00-11:00 a.m. – 2020 General Assembly Session and VFDA Legislative Update, Angie Bezik, VFDA Lobbyist (1.0)
11:00 a.m.-Noon – Including People with Autism and Intellectual Disabilities in the Funeral and Grieving Process, Theodore A. Hoch, Ed.D., B.C.B.A.-D., L.B.A, Northern Virginia Applied Behavior Analysis, LLC, Virginia Autism Project (1.0)
Noon-12:45 p.m. – Lunch
12:45 -2:45 p.m. – Decoding the Generations, Mary Andres Russell Professional Development Director – East, Matthews Aurora Funeral Solutions (2.0)


James Ruggerio, Lakeland Preneed Planning LLC
James earned his degree in Funeral Service from John Tyler Community College and joined an independent funeral home in Virginia as a Licensed Funeral Director in 1998. His motivation to serve families honestly and ethically, while keeping their financial well being in mind led him to pursue a specialization in advance planning in 2002 when the funeral home joined the Keystone Group. Following several years as a counselor, James was promoted to Area Sales Manager and then Regional Sales Director. When the Keystone Group joined Service Corporation International, James spent 18 months as a Sales Manager in the Virginia and Pennsylvania Main Street Market, then in 2012 joined Forethought
Life Insurance Co. as Director of Business Development focusing on VA, NC, SC, TN, FL, GA & AL. In August of 2016 and following 4 years with Forethought (GAFG), James launched Lakeland Preneed Planning LLC, an Independent Marketing Organization and marketing partner with Homesteaders Life Co. offering preneed services designed to support the funeral homes preneed programs.

Angie Bezik
As a lobbyist and government affairs specialist, Angie Bezik works with clients across a broad range of industries. She develops successful strategies for legislation, budget items and project coordination with an array of clients at the state and local level, including clients within the alternative/renewable and traditional energy, health, technology, transportation sectors, and local government. She also works on numerous grassroots and grass tops efforts, and coordinates coalitions, messaging, delivery and tracking content and deliverables.

She has worked on issues and advocacy spanning academia and industry since 2006, providing public outreach and government affairs services to organizations s such as SAIC Marine Renewables, the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition (VOW), Gamesa, James Madison University, MDV-SEIA and Virginia Tech ARI. She has also successfully represented Autism Speaks, Verified Voting, Dun and Bradstreet as well as Lyft, the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies, the City of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake Public Schools, and of course, the Virginia Funeral Directors Association.
Angie heads Principle Advantage Government Relations Group, LLC, a Hampton Roads-based consulting and government relations firm. She has also served as the managing director for the Hampton Roads office of a highly regarded government affairs/lobbying firm and worked for seven years as the Legislative Director for a Virginia State Delegate, where she supervised and managed legislative and public relations strategies.

She has strong relationships with the General Assembly, including leadership in both the House and the Senate, as well as with the Administration and its agencies and departments. She feels that relationships with other lobbyists is an important part of advocating for clients and has led and participated in numerous coalition activities for clients.

Dr. Theodore Hoch
Dr. Theodore Hoch is a doctoral level board certified behavior analyst (BCBA-D), licensed behavior analyst (Virginia), licensed professional counselor (Virginia), and licensed applied psychologist (Virginia). He has held faculty positions in a number of universities and medical schools, and has trained behavior analysts for more than three decades. Dr. Hoch has provided behavior analysis, psychological, and counseling services in inpatient hospital, outpatient hospital and clinic, residential, and home-based settings, working with people ranging in age from infancy through the elderly years, with psychiatric diagnoses, intellectual disabilities, autism, and struggles with everyday life.

In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Hoch has provided training and consultation around the United States, and in China, Russia, Pakistan, Jordan, and Nevis. Dr. Hoch greatly enjoys teaching psychologists, teachers, social workers, nurses, and others to help people with and without disabilities be more successful in everyday life. He has fielded the same types of questions and requests for assistance around the world – “Why does my child behave this way?” “What can I do to help my child learn better?” “How can I help my child learn to speak?” “How can I get my students to behave?” “How can I get my students to keep working?” “Where do I begin?” Despite differences in languages and cultures, children (with and without disabilities), parents, teachers, and others have a tremendous amount in common – all over the world. Dr. Hoch enjoys helping all of them.

Mary Andres Russel, Professional Development Director – East, Matthews Aurora Funeral Solutions
“Our goal for each seminar is simple – to delight, inspire and transform. We challenge funeral directors to adapt to the changing marketplace; we share best practices rooted in professional excellence and high standards; and it absolutely has to be fun!”

Mary is a highly regarded professional with 30+ years of experience in training and marketing in funeral service and non-profit organizations. As Professional Development Director for Matthews Aurora, she leads funeral directors through innovative seminars and creates learning through engaging discussion.

Mary joined Matthews Aurora in 2016 after a decade-long dedication to character-building in the Cincinnati area. She also helped establish a charitable foundation to support hospice care for children. Her first exposure to funeral service began early in her career where she produced grief support resources, helped roll out cremation products and became a sought-after speaker, delivering hundreds of presentations in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.
Mary is a graduate of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and serves on the Board of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati. She resides in Cleves, Ohio with her husband Mike.

 May 13, 2019