STERLING, VA (March 20, 2024) – The ICCFA University, a leading institution in deathcare education, proudly announces the incorporation of the School of Graduate Studies, led by Dean Robbie Pape, CCFE, into its esteemed roster of colleges. This significant expansion of ICCFA University’s educational offerings presents attendees with an unparalleled opportunity to deepen their expertise and advance their careers in the deathcare profession.

The School of Graduate Studies augments ICCFA University’s comprehensive array of nine specialized colleges, each overseen by experienced Deans committed to advancing knowledge and expertise in their respective fields. Classes are in session from July 19th to July 24th, 2024, at Emory University’s campus in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The best leaders are those who continue learning, and the School of Graduate Studies shows the ICCFA’s commitment to that mission. This college addresses the wide range of funeral and cemetery leadership and operational challenges we face. We will look inward at our own leadership style and gain exposure to operational areas where we may be less familiar,” stated Dean Pape. “Come join me as we learn where we can play a role in shaping the future of our profession.”

Distinguished experts who will share their knowledge and expertise include:

  • Lori Bolton, CSE, CXE: Heads Special Projects/People Development at the Park Lawn Corporation and is considered a thought leader with insights on national trends, studying how the customer experience impacts the bottom line.
  • Dave Brown: Founding Partner and executive-level Sales and Leadership Coach for Southwestern Consulting, specializing in servant leadership and effective team
  • Darin Drabing: President & CEO of Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks & Mortuaries in Southern California, brings over 30 years of comprehensive experience in the cemetery and funeral profession. With a diverse skill set and a distinguished leadership background, including serving as a past President of the ICCFA, he embodies expertise and excellence in the industry.
  • Poul Lemasters, Esq.: An attorney and ICCFA General Counsel and cremation programs coordinator, offering legal insights into navigating deathcare-related issues.
  • Bob Gordon, Jr., CCE: President and CEO of Cypress Lawn Cemetery Association, bringing over four decades of experience in funeral service and cemetery management.
  • Welton Hong: Founder and CEO of Ring Ring Marketing, a leading expert in digital marketing for funeral homes and cemeteries, focusing on leveraging technology and online platforms to enhance business visibility and engagement.
  • Gary Freytag, CCFE: President and CEO of Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, renowned for his finance and strategic planning expertise in the deathcare profession.

These experts, among others, will lead sessions covering various topics, including servant leadership, effective board management, strategic planning, digital marketing, financial analysis, and employee engagement.

Prospective students interested in learning more about the School of Graduate Studies and its programs are encouraged to visit ICCFA University’s website for additional information, including registration and the event schedule.


Founded in 1887, the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association is the only international trade association representing all segments of the cemetery, cremation, funeral and memorialization profession. The association is comprised of more than 10,000 members in the cemetery, funeral home and crematory industries, as well as supplier and related businesses worldwide.