New York State Funeral Directors Association

Jeff Jennings CFSPDear NYSFDA Membership,

Please join me in Congratulating President Richard J. Sullivan on a successful year as our Association President. Rich began his term with a very successful 2019 Convention and was a hands-on and active leader since day one. As our State began to feel the effects and impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Rich quickly adjusted and redirected our focus and resources to respond to the needs of funeral directors throughout our State. He, along with our Executive Director Mike Lanotte, worked closely with our professional staff to ensure that everyone remained safe. As safety protocols were established at our Association offices, lines of communication were created throughout our State to support the needs of funeral homes throughout New York that were severely impacted. They, along with our professional staff worked as a team to assist us all through our time of greatest need. Mike Lanotte provided us daily updates, advocated for us in Albany and ensured that our needs were heard and addressed. Our sincerest gratitude is extended to Rich, Mike and all our Association Staff for their hard work and dedication.

While the mortality rate in NY has reduced and the pandemic is managed, the impacts we have all experienced have continued.

In the near term we have all needed to adjust the way we live and make decisions to ensure the health and safety of our families, our funeral homes, our communities and ourselves.

In keeping with our desire to keep everyone safe, and with an abundance of caution, the Executive Board made a decision to cancel the NYSFDA 2020 Annual Convention. It was our sincere hope that by moving the Convention from August to October we would have been able to host the Convention with no adverse impacts and ensure 100% participation without any risks. It became clear we could not provide those guarantees. The health, safety and welfare of our Association Members, Funeral Service Partners, Association Staff and our Families remains paramount. That being said, we anticipate an amazing Convention in 2021 and look forward to seeing everyone there!

As we prepared for the 2020 Convention we discussed a theme and messaging. Given the unprecedented times and the challenges we are experiencing, I decided on, OUR VISION, OUR STRENGTH, OUR FUTURE. Even though I was not able to present this message to our Association Membership at our convention, I hope to share it with all of you throughout my term as President.

We also selected Keynote Speakers that embodied what it takes to survive and lead during adverse and challenging conditions. Their message and stories are timely, poignant and meaningful for funeral directors and all funeral service professionals. I encourage you to read the stories of; US Naval Commander Kirk Lippold, Commanding Officer of the USS Cole and Kris “Tanto” Paranto, US Army Ranger and CIA Contractor whose story was featured in the movie 13 Hours, The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi. 

It is my sincere hope that all of our membership and their families stay safe and our Nation can quickly heal and return to a normalcy we enjoyed prior to the pandemic, riots, protests and civil unrest.

Thank you again to President Richard J. Sullivan for his continued friendship and leadership during these uncertain times.

Please remember that #NYSFDAstrong is not just a hashtag, it is who we are.

With Respect,

William J. Villanova, Sr.