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2011 NFDA Convention Speakers Will Inspire, Fascinate

2011convlogoFor Immediate Release: February 24, 2011

Brookfield, Wis. – The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) announced the keynote speakers for its 2011 International Convention & Expo, being held in conjunction with the Cremation Association of North America (CANA), October 23-26, 2011, in Chicago, Ill.


Chris_Gardner_webOpening General Session: Chris Gardner, Gardner Rich LLC, Chicago, Ill.

Chris Gardner once said, "A slow walk to Wall Street is how others describe my life. But, when I look back at the journey from homelessness to prosperity, I hold one thing dearer than all else – my commitment to my son. This is our story."

Gardner's perseverance – rising from a childhood marked by poverty, domestic violence, alcoholism, sexual abuse and family illiteracy, to a successful career in finance and becoming the CEO of his own company – was told in his autobiography, The Pursuit of Happyness. The book, which topped both the New York Times and Washington Post best seller list, has been translated into more than thirty languages. Gardner's story and his autobiography were the inspiration for the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness," which starred Will Smith as Gardner.

CyrilWechtClosing General Session: Dr. Cyril Wecht, Clinical Professor, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Penn.

What do President John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley, JonBenet Ramsey, Laci Peterson, Chandra Levy, O.J. Simpson and Senator Robert F. Kennedy have in common? The watchful eye and sharp intellect of internationally renowned high-profile forensic pathologist and attorney, Dr. Cyril Wecht. Hear how he has been seeking social truth and justice by applying modern forensic pathology to the world's greatest mysteries.

Wecht is a clinical professor at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of Medicine, Dental Medicine and Graduate School of Public Health, and holds positions as an adjunct professor at the Duquesne University School of Law, School of Pharmacy and School of Health Sciences. He appears on nationally-syndicated television programs to discuss various medicolegal and forensic scientific issues, including medical malpractice, drug abuse and high-profile death investigations. His expertise has also been utilized in high-profile cases such as Mary Jo Kopechne, Sunny von Bülow, Jean Harris, the Branch Davidian fire in Waco, Texas, and Vincent Foster.

The most up-to-date information on the 2011 NFDA International Convention & Expo can be found at

NFDA is the world's leading funeral service association, serving 18,500 individual members who represent more than 9,900 funeral homes in the United States and internationally. From its headquarters in Brookfield, Wis., and its Advocacy Division office in Washington, D.C., NFDA is the worldwide source of expertise and professional resources for all facets of funeral service. Through education, information and advocacy, NFDA is dedicated to supporting members in their mission to provide families with meaningful end-of-life services at the highest levels of excellence and integrity. For more information, visit

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Media Contact: Jessica Koth, 262-814-1536