135th VFDA Annual Convention

Marriott Oceanfront Virginia Beach

135th VFDA Annual Convention

The VFDA 2023 Annual Convention will be June 11-14, 2023 in Virginia Beach, VA at the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront!

Start Date: Sunday, June 11, 2023

End Date: Wednesday, June 14, 2023


Important Links

  • More information to come soon


Please see below for the Convention Keynote Speakers

Monica Torres

Monica H. Torres, Monica is a LE, LFD, LC, Postmortem Reconstructive Specialist, Desairologist and internationally recognized public speaker, technical trainer and author. Monica is also the owner and founder of startup company NXT Generation Mortuary Support, LLC (est. 2011). NXTgen is a trail blazing trade service company which not only offers traditional embalming services and staff support, but also develops untraditional modern online death education programs for professionals and families. Community outreach, death education and accredited technical training programs are at the core of NXTgen’s management and consulting service department. Monica believes that, “nurturing a path toward success serving families begins with professional development, focused strategies in the prep room, and educating the public.” NXTgen works with your firm to host an opportunity for growth while increasing profits, modernizing antiquated service models and guiding your staff towards a fulfilling career.

Monica is deeply committed to the future of funeral service and has worked in all aspects of the ministry from working in the trenches of the prep room to working as the General Manager for one of Arizona’s largest and fastest growing funeral home and cemetery combos.  Monica is a first-generation Funeral Director and Embalmer and has worked in the beautification of human bodies since the age of 16.  After becoming licensed by the Arizona State Board of Cosmetology, Monica opened her first salon and spa business at the age of 18.  Having an affinity for art and being able to see the rare beauty in death, her compassionate nature led her into funeral service and restorative artistry and postmortem reconstructive surgery on the deceased.  After her completion of the Mortuary Science Program at Mesa Community College, and while still an Embalming Intern, Monica had her first course; Airbrush Artistry for cosmetic use in the Prep Room accredited in 2010. Monica concentrated her efforts and focused on the fantastic art and science of post mortem reconstructive surgery at the world-renowned Fountain National Academy of Professional Embalming Skills. During her attendance at FNA Monica developed the “No Wax Torres Technique,” coined by other professionals in the field this surgical hair implantation technique has proved to be an alternative to traditional wax hair restoration and the modern embalmers choice for hard cases. Monica was honored in 2016 by Vernie Fountain with the FNA Distinguished Professional Service Medallion for her contribution to funeral service.  Monica’s mortuary support company was featured on the cover of American Funeral Director Magazine in 2018 and recognized as one of the funeral industries most innovative companies helping to shape the future of funeral service. Monica’s passion lies in the prep room but she also receives gratification from helping funeral service professionals and funeral homes modernize their own services, products and procedures.

NXTgen hopes to be able to continue to develop and offer accredited education and progressive service models for funeral homes such as the “Family Assisted Dress Experience” (as featured in Mortuary Management 2015). Monica’s experience in event planning stems from her education at Arizona State University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management with Emphasis in Tourism and Event Planning.

NXT Generation Mortuary Support gives back to our community by supporting the next generation of funeral service by raising money for aspiring female and transgender embalmers though sales of her ebook “Embalming Tips Revealed Volume 1” which helps to raise funds for her “Hi Precious Scholarship” which was instituted to help break down social and political barriers for women and transgender individuals in funeral service.  Monica is a lifetime learner and is currently a junior at ICCFA University. Monica lives in Phoenix, AZ with her beloved Doberman Pinschers, Cash and Fancy where she enjoys dog training/handling and city life.


-David C. Baue Scholarship for Women in Funeral Service, NFDA 2022

-Award of Excellence, 100 Black Women in Funeral Service 2019-2020

-Scholarship recipient ICCFAU College of Sales 2019

-Scholarship recipient ICCFAU College of Cremation 2018

-Honoree, 2016 FNA Distinguished Professional Service Medallion

-Honoree, 2016 St. Joseph of Arimathea Award of Excellence, Diocese of Phoenix Catholic Cemeteries

-The Fountain National Academy of Professional Embalming Skills, 2012-2013 Scholarship

-100 Black Women in Funeral Service, Mortuary Educational Stipend, 2011

-Association of Women Funeral Professionals, The Rosemary C. Stacy Memorial Scholarship 2010


Valerie J. Wages

Valerie has worked with Tom M. Wages Funeral Service, served as a National Training and Development Specialist and as a Commencement Speaker. Her career has included consulting with and developing funeral home personnel throughout the United States, as well as in Europe. She is recognized as a sought-after public speaker in the death care profession for her passion for serving families and being able to communicate to funeral service professionals the important role they play in the lives of people when a loved one has died. Valerie graduated from Georgia College & State University, Milledgeville, Georgia, in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in education and was an honor graduate from Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service in Atlanta, Georgia on August 19, 1977. She is a licensed Embalmer & Funeral Director in the State of Georgia and holds the designation of Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP) through the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice (APFSP). Valerie has received numerous awards and recognitions in her career, such as, serving as the first woman President of the Georgia Funeral Directors Association (1988-89) and first licensed woman Embalmer and Funeral Director to serve on the Georgia State Board of Funeral Service. Valerie was a recipient of the Initiative Award given through the National Funeral Directors Association Professional Women’s Conference in recognition of outstanding leadership and commitment to funeral service. Valerie’s commitment to provide exceptional customer service, provide each family with meticulous attention to detail and help family members and friends begin the next journey of their lives without their loved one physically with them on this earth has been her most rewarding work in her life. She received her 40 years Achievement Award from the Georgia Funeral Directors Association on June 6, 2018. Valerie resides in Lawrenceville, Georgia where she still sees families that ask for her at Tom M. Wages Funeral Service in Lawrenceville and Snellville, Georgia, as well as speaking at various seminars and conventions.

Dr. Rick Snow

Dr. Rick Snow is President of Forensic Anthropology Consulting Services, Inc.  Prior to forming his consulting company, Dr. Snow was the forensic anthropologist with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation from 2002 to 2009.

He worked in Kosovo excavating mass graves as an agent of the United Nations and spent eight months in Bosnia excavating mass graves for the International Commission on Missing Persons.

Shortly after returning from Bosnia, Dr. Snow was called to Noble, Georgia to work the Tri-State Crematory incident, in which a crematory operator left 334 bodies to decompose in the woods rather than cremating them.

In 2005 Dr. Snow spent three weeks in Thailand as a Coordinator in the Thailand Tsunami Victim Identification Information Management Center.

In 2014 and 2015 Dr. Snow traveled to Germany to recover the remains of American aviators who were shot down in World War II.  Dr. Snow also worked with History Flight, Inc. on the South Pacific island of Tarawa recovering the remains of Marines who were killed there in 1943.

Since forming his consulting company in 2009, Dr. Snow has worked with medical examiners and law enforcement to identify the dead.  He also works as a consultant for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

He worked for seven years as a patrolman with the Dekalb County Police Department in Decatur, Georgia.  Dr. Snow received his Master’s and Ph.D. in Anthropology from The University of Tennessee.


Please see below for the schedule of events for the 135th Annual Convention that is taking place June 11, 2023 to June 14, 2023 in Virginia Beach, Viringina.

Sunday June 11, 2023
Monday June 12, 2023
Tuesday June 13, 2023
Wednesday June 14, 2023