2015 NHFA Conference

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Join us at the 2015 NHFA Conference

Come to our conference to 

  • CONNECT with your peers and build regional dialogs 
  • build your CONFIDENCE to serve and uphold families rights to care for our own after death 
  • nourish COURAGE to continue the work of your practices and take care of yourself

Join us at the 5th NHFA Biennial Conference October 2-4, 2015! Every other year, the NHFA Conference presents a dynamic and enriching gathering for people from many fields who care about home funerals and natural death care: NHFA members, family caregivers, health care professionals in the death and dying fields, funeral directors, celebrants and clergy, and newcomers to the movement. 

Our theme: This year we celebrate “Courage, Confidence and Connections: Home Funerals Now!” We are excited for conference attendees’ to build their own capacities in each of these areas – so that together – we sustain and fortify the home funeral movement of today.

Why Attend?

The format will be dynamic and new, with more space and opportunities for us to meet and openly learn from each other. We will also directly seek the input of health care, legal, and funeral home experts in the field. 

Customize your conference experiences by choosing the sessions and topics that suit our own levels of experience and interests. 

So reserve your calendars for October 2-4th, start making travel plans and get ready to register. Join our conference mailing list here for updates. Cost and more details forthcoming. Web registration opens in early May.

The 2015 NHFA Conference promises to be a weekend packed with human connection and confidence building activities, all amidst the stunning natural environment of redwood groves and welcoming nature trails in the Santa Cruz Mountains perched above Los Gatos, Ca. This is an inclusive event where newcomers, people active in the Home Funeral movement, and allies from various fields gather to see old friends and meet new ones, plus seek wisdom from each other and our stellar guests: Frank Ostaseski, Caitlin Doughty, Kate Munger and Nancy Jewel Poer.


This year, we'll be gathering on the west coast at The Presentation Center in the Santa Cruz mountains near Los Gatos, California. This retreat center is tucked into redwood forests, with a natural setting that invites contemplation and rejuvenation while we work. The LEED Certified Dining Hall boasts a living roof with an organic garden, along with large expanses of windows and views that connect to the outdoors. A labyrinth calls for early morning meditations. Hiking paths beckon right outside your bedroom door. A large pond hosts many birds for bird watchers. The lodging hall has cozy community rooms and spaces, perfect for those late night conversations after a full day of learning and connecting with peers.


Keynote speaker: Frank Ostaseski

photo of Frank OstasekiWe are very excited to have Frank Ostaseski as our keynote speaker for the 2015 National Home Funeral Alliance conference. In 1987 Frank co-founded the Zen Hospice Project, the first Buddhist hospice in America. In 2004, he created the Metta Institute to provide broad based education on mindful and compassionate end of life care. His groundbreaking work has been widely featured in the media, including the Bill Moyers television series On Our Own Terms, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and in numerous print publications. In 2001, he was honored by H.H. Dalai Lama for his years of compassionate service to the dying and their families.

Frank is a dynamic and visionary Buddhist teacher and international lecturer. He is a frequent keynote speaker for many healthcare organizations. His public programs, writings and recordings have introduced thousands to the practices of contemplative care. More info at mettainstitute.org.

Honored guest speaker: Caitlin Doughty

Caitlin Doughty is a licensed mortician and the host and creator of the Ask a Mortician web series. She founded the death acceptance collective The Order of the Good Death and cofounded Death Salon. Her first book, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and Other Lessons From the Crematory" was a New York Times bestseller. Her website is orderofthegooddeath.com.

Watch Caitlin’s personal invitation to the conference

Honored guest speaker: Kate Munger

photo of Kate MungerKate Munger, international speaker, singer, song leader, composer, teacher and founder of the Threshold Choirs, has been passionate about community singing since she was 8 years old at Girl Scout Camp. She has taught and led community singing for over 35 years. She is a popular speaker at conferences of palliative care and prison reform professionals and is a gracious, skillful musical host and choral director whose joy lies in reminding us that we are singing beings, bringing “community singing” back to the community. 

In 2000 at age 50, she founded the first of 130 current Threshold Choirs around the world. Today at 65, she has retired from heading the Threshold Choirs and returned to her passion of singing at the bedsides of people who are dying or in coma, children in hospital, and with folks who are in prison. 

A composer of haunting and beautiful melodies and harmonies, Kate compiled and seeded the rich, widely sourced and immense Threshold Choir repertoire. She has produced all three of the Choir’s CDs: Listening at the Threshold (2003), Tenderly Rain (2006) and Walking Each Other Home (2014). Kate knows intimately that this work of service, of singing to the ill and dying, is deep and serious, and she offers a fresh, lively, sometimes irreverent, always relevant perspective. She makes her home on Tomales Bay in Marin County in California from which she travels the world in service and song.

Honored guest speaker: Nancy Jewel Poer

photo of Nancy Jewel PoerNancy Jewel Poer is considered a ‘grandmother of the home death movement’ with nearly 40 years experience. But she says its really about supporting real and beautiful “Life’‘, not only up to transition but in the spirit beyond! As a mother of six and grandmother of many, she wanted her family to know home death is natural and should be filled with loving warmth for the dying. This led her to her work and book, "Living Into Dying, Spiritual and Practical Deathcare For Family and Community," that is a classic in our field. An artist, she produced the award winning documentary film, The Most Excellent Dying of Theodore Jack Heckelmanhas, helped many people learn about the beauty of closure with a home vigil. She has lectured and started threshold groups across the nation. Nancy is a co-founder of Rudolf Steiner College where she has taught Waldorf teachers for over 35 years. Nancy is also food activist for many decades she works with leaders in California for GMO awareness to protect our children and environment from the chemical harm of industrial agriculture. She has started threshold groups across the nation. She and her husband live on White Feather ranch where she often gives retreats for death and dying, mothering and women’s issues. Nancy still works actively with giving support to families with dying and home deaths. Her website is nancyjewelpoer.com and her blog is whitefeather2014.wordpress.com.

Interested in volunteering?

Please contact our Volunteer Coordinator for more information.

Sponsor and Vendor Information

Interested in being a vendor at the conference? 

Become a Sponsor and then complete the application below.

Conference Vendor/Exhibitor Application

Interested in sponsoring the conference? Below is information and our application form.

Conference Sponsorship Application


(subject to change)

Friday October 2nd

3:30 Registration Opens
4:00 Vendor tables open
4:00-6:00 Jewish Candle-Lighting Ceremony honoring Sukkot - All are welcome
5:00-6:00 Discover the Presentation Center: Nature Walk, Labyrinth,; Movement; Meditation
6:00-6:45 Dinner
7:15-7:30 Welcome – Lee Webster, President, NHFA
7:30-9:00 Key Note Session - Frank Ostaseski, Director and Founder of The Metta Institute, Zen Hospice

Saturday October 3rd

7:00-8:00 Movement or meditation
7:00-8:45 Registration Open
8:00-6:00 Vendor tables open
8:00-5:00 Contemplation / Quiet Room Open
8:0- 8:45 Breakfast
8:45-9:00 Welcome to Old Friends & New
9:00-9:45 Speaker – Caitlin Doughty, Funeral Director, Founder of The Order of the Good Death 
9:45-10:00 Caitlin’s Book signing
10:00-10:50 Making Connections, Session 1A: “Let’s Talk about Death: How Boomers are Transforming the Last Taboo”, Suzette Sherman & Peter Sathis
10:50-11:00 Break
11:00-12:00 Session 1B: Regional Networking Breakouts
12:00-12:45 Lunch, Book signing
1:00-3:00 Gaining Confidence (CONCURRENT AFTERNOON SESSIONS)

Session 2A: Home Funerals 101 (with two breakouts)

Session 2B: Resource Roundtables
3:00-3:30 Break
3:30-4:15 A Conversation with Nancy Jewel Poer, luminary of the home funeral movement
4:30-5:30 Session 3A: TBD
4:30-5:30 Sharing our Wisdom – Open Sessions
5:30-6:00 Wine Tasting Reception - generously donated by Balo Vineyard
6:00-6:45 Dinner
7:30-9:00 Speaker – Kate Munger, founder of Threshold choir
8:00 Optional Movies

Sunday October 4th

7:00-8:00 Movement or Meditation
8:00-1:00 Vendor tables open
8:00-8:45 Breakfast
9:00-10:30 Moving Forward with Courage, NHFA Annual Meeting
10:30-11:00 Break
11:00-11:45 Speakers  –  The Fieri Family Home Funeral Story, Guy Feiri of The Food Channel 
12:00-12:45 Lunch
1:00-2:00 Home Funerals 201 – What Have we Learned?
2:00-2:30 Moving Forward, What’s Next?

Planning your trip

Costs Good news! This year general registration costs are ALL INCLUSIVE for one highly engaging conference program happening in a serene 67–acre natural setting with comfortable amenities, tucked among redwood forests. This means that costs include conference, meals and lodging from Friday 10/2 at 3:30PM to Sunday 10/4 at 2:30PM.$545 Non-Members of NHFA $495 NHFA Members and Early Birds (Register before 8.15.15)$300 Commuter rate (conference and meals, no lodging) $175 Saturday only (conference and breakfast, lunch, dinner)

Location The Presentation Center in the Santa Cruz Mountains,19480 Bear Creek Road, Los Gatos, CA 95033

We will be the only guests at The Presentation Center – it’s all ours for the weekend. It is a beautiful place on a peaceful 67-acres among the redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This site was once a theological college and is presently a non-profit, sponsored ministry of the Sisters of the Presentation, and is supported financially solely by their guests and donors.

Lodging on Friday and Saturday will be provided onsite for up to 125 attendees, in simple shared rooms with shared bathrooms. Healthy and delicious meals will be prepared and served in the newly constructed dining hall with a living roof.

Timing First Day Timing: Friday, October 2, 2015
3:30 pm - Onsite registration opens 
6:00 pm - Dinner
7:30 pm - Keynote Presentation 

Last Day Timing: Sunday, October 4, 2015
Last Session ends at 2:30 pm
Closest Airports Mineta San Jose International (SJC) – approx 20-30 minute drive to site via CA-17 N

San Francisco International (SFO) – approx 60-75 minute drive to site via I-280 N

Oakland International Airport (OAK) – approx 60-90 minute drive to site via I-880 N

Monterey Regional Airport (MRY) – approx 60-90 minute drive to site via CA-1 S

More Details Just in case you are wondering:
  • Nearby lodging and ground transportation options will be included upon conference registration confirmation.
  • Please note that if you arrive earlier than Friday, you will need to make lodging arrangements elsewhere; we can’t check into the site until Friday October 2nd at 3:30 pm.
  • Questions in the registration forms will be included about physical accessibility and food sensitivities, with attention given to these considerations throughout the planning and conference offering stages.

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