New York State Funeral Directors Association

Introducing NYSFDA's 2020-2021 President

Get to know NYSFDA President-Elect, William J. Villanova, President of Frank E. Campbell - The Funeral Chapel located in New York City, who will be installed as NYSFDA President this month.

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Why did you choose a career in funeral service?

My earliest memories growing up in Port Chester, NY were the days and years spent at my Godfather’s Funeral Homes. As a young boy I would cut grass, trim the hedges and help maintain the funeral homes. Eventually I found myself working visitations and assisting on funeral services. I originally was going to pursue a career in law enforcement and it was Ralph Mazzeo, Sr. who suggested a career in Funeral Service. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. It would have been great for him, my father and grandfather to be here today to share in my accomplishments.

 

How long have you been in the funeral services profession?

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t working around or in a funeral home. I began my career under the direction of Ralph Mazzeo, Jr. He shared with me the values and best practices needed to be a great Funeral Director. Ralph instilled in me the importance of accountability and providing service to our community. I am forever grateful to him for mentoring me. Looking back on these years it is easy to say that I have been in funeral service over 3 decades and licensed for 25 years.

 

What funeral home are you currently with, and what role do you currently serve?

I am President of Frank E. Campbell – The Funeral Chapel located in New York City.

 

What part of the job gives you the most satisfaction?

My profession has afforded me the opportunity to experience an amazing career and growth as a licensed funeral director in two states. During that time I have had the privilege to manage 8 funeral homes, including my current position as President of Frank E. Campbell – The Funeral Chapel. Everything I do is customer service centric, including providing excellent service to my client families. When I meet and exceed the expectations for a family during the most difficult time in their life, I know I have completed something very special. My ability as a funeral director to celebrate the life of a loved one and capture the essence of how each person lived their life, is a very unique task. Not everyone can accomplish this. It takes a funeral director who is dedicated to their profession, to use all of their skills and knowledge to masterfully choreograph and personalize each service and ensure it is meaningful and appropriate for each family. My ability to create, develop and lead a team of dedicated funeral professionals that delivers a premium level of customer service is one of the measures of my career that provides gratification.

Throughout my career I have completed many funeral home renovations and projects. Creating a funeral home that is state-of-the-art and also warm and inviting is very satisfying and supports my focus on customer service. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the amazing opportunities I have been afforded since beginning my time with Service Corporation International. When reflecting on my career I often share the following sentiment, “We should provide funeral services that honor our grandparent’s traditions while using today’s technology to better serve our families”.

 

Why did you first join NYSFDA and what prompted you to seek a leadership position?

While being a member of the Orange, Rockland and Sullivan FDA I submitted my request to serve on NYSFDA Boards and Committees. I extend a heartfelt thank you to Past President Dick Hazzard for appointing me to my first committee. He gave me the opportunity to participate in our great Association and I look forward to providing the opportunity I was given to other dedicated members throughout the state. Of course, none of this happens without the support of my company and my family. My company has always been supportive of my desire to be active and pursue a leadership position within NYSFDA. My wife Sandra has always supported my endeavors and ensured our home and our 3 children (Gianna, William, Jr. and Nicholas) are supported when I am away on Association business.

 

Please describe your leadership style.

When appropriate, I believe in collaborating with stakeholders to ensure the best possible outcomes. I also know that not every decision needs to be made by a team. Being responsive and proactive in some cases call for swift actions and timely decisions. As a leader, I have always been an advocate for creating and implementing Best Business Practices. Over the next year I will identify opportunities for our boards, our members and professional staff to realize their full potential. If you had to describe me as a leader, you could easily use the words, dynamic and high energy.   

 

What do you hope to accomplish as President of NYSFDA?

I am honored to become President of the NYSFDA and represent funeral directors and funeral homes throughout our state. Assuming the mantle of leadership for our Association, during a time when our profession, our communities and our nation are being challenged like never before is not what I was expecting, but I am fully prepared and ready to rise to the occasion and meet all challenges head on. I will remain focused on protecting our licenses and our profession with vigor. I will continue to champion the eradication of interlopers into our profession and ensure that what we hold sacred is elevated and not diluted or marginalized. I am excited to continue our advocacy and supporting a robust and meaningful legislative agenda that benefits our profession from Clinton to New York City and from Chataugua to Suffolk. I hope to look back on my Presidency and know without a doubt that we were able to continue the progress of our Association that was started by all the Presidents that came before and encourage funeral service throughout our State to be proactive to meet the future needs of our families for generations to come.