Board of Directors
Green Burial Council – Certification
Ed Bixby, Director (President), is the owner and operator of Steelmantown Green Burial Preserve in Steelmantown, NJ. Ed’s extensive background in land use and development includes being a licensed New Jersey real estate broker and the owner of Fox and Fox Builders L.L.C. Ed’s experience in the development industry has provided keen insight into better land use practices and drives his passion for the natural burial movement and the benefits it provides to the present and future generations. Ed has led presentations on natural burial for numerous organizations and has provided educational training for both funeral directors and cemeterians alike. Ed resides in southern New Jersey with his wife Kristen and two daughters Ava and Mina.
Candace Currie, Director (Secretary), is the director of planning and sustainability at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge and Watertown, MA. She began her cemetery experience as a volunteer in the horticulture department mapping some of the 5000+ trees throughout the 175 acres. Today, she locates new graves within the historic core of Mount Auburn to be sold for natural burials and promotes the vision of one of Mount Auburn’s founders, Dr. Jacob Bigelow, who wrote in 1831: “The elements which have once moved and circulated in living frames do not become extinct nor useless after death: they offer themselves as the materials from which other living frames are to be constructed.” In addition to her work with Mount Auburn, Candace volunteers with Green Burial Massachusetts. She holds LEED Green Associate credential and a Master of Arts in Landscape Design from the Conway School of Landscape Design of western Massachusetts.
Dyanne Miller Matzkevich, Director (Treasurer), has been a cemeterian for the past 11+ years at Pine Forest and Gethsemane Memorial Gardens. She is a graduate of the ICCFA University, a certified celebrant, and has served as President of the NC Cemetery Association. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Southern Cemetery (SCCFA). Dyanne conceived and developed the Garden of Renewal at Pine Forest Memorial Gardens. This development has been recorded in the multi-award winning documentary, A Will for the Woods, which is being shown around the world and across the United States. Dyanne resides in Wake Forest, NC with her husband, Bill. She has three grown sons, Brett, Brad and Billy.
Rob Caughlan, Director, has been a political professional and environmental activist for 40 years. In the political world he served as Administrative Assistant to the late Congressman Leo Ryan. He served President Jimmy Carter in the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency. As an environmental activist in 1974 he co-founded a wild river advocacy group called Friends of the River. They have been an important force ever since. As a life long surfer, he wrote articles about ocean ecology for Surfer Magazine and also served as President of the Surfrider Foundation. Professionally he was a partner in The Roanoke Company, a social issues advertising agency. He also worked for the Skylawn Cemetery in San Mateo as an environmental consultant and helped obtain all the approvals for their 200 year plan. He has been and continues to be an outspoken advocate for natural burial.
Joseph R. Smolenski III, Director, is the owner / funeral director / manager, of Renaissance Funeral Home (Raleigh, NC). He is a public speaker to the community on various topics concerning funeral planning and death and an advocate of earth-friendly options, choices and ceremony. Joe is a 4th generation funeral director serving people of all faiths, denominations, creeds, and cultures. He was privileged to assist Dr. Clark Wang with his green burial shown in the documentary, A Will For The Woods.
Sara Brink, Director, is the manager of the Foxfield Preserve, a certified GBC provider and the first nature preserve cemetery in the nation to be operated by a conservation organization. She has been an active participant with her state’s Cemetery Task Force, striving to adapt legislation to protect and define green burial in the state of Ohio. She has also worked as a consultant, helping to guide other conservation organizations to follow this model for land preservation. Sara and her husband live on a small farm with their two young children.
Bob Fertig, Director, became a licensed funeral director at age thirty-six; it was the culmination of a calling he felt early in life, following the loss of his father and brother. For several years, he worked with a number of funeral homes, gaining experience and practical knowledge; in 2004, he established Fertig Funeral Home in Mullica Hill, New Jersey. In 2008, Bob began offering green burial and home funerals, in response to the burgeoning interest in green funerals. He discovered an amazing resource in Ed Bixby and Steelmantown Cemetery, then joined and was certified by the GBC. With their help, Fertig Funeral Home then strode to the forefront of a small cadre of funeral providers offering green and natural funeral options. Bob with his wife Denise present informative talks about green burial to community groups and healthcare professionals in their area. The Fertig family makes their home in Mullica Hill, New Jersey.
Green Burial Council – Education
Matthew Alcide, Director (President), has a diverse background with significant experience in fundraising within the nonprofit sector. He is currently the Development Director for Inscape Publico, a nonprofit architecture firm in Washington, DC. Prior to joining the firm, Matt worked in development for the Landscape Architecture Foundation and the Alice Ferguson Foundation. He is currently the president of the Sigma Nu Alumni Chapter at James Madison University. In addition to many nonprofit leadership and volunteer activities, Matt consults small businesses and nonprofits in enhancing their operations through web design, marketing, and development. He is also the managing partner for Land8, the online social network for landscape architects. A native of Long Island, Matt is a graduate of James Madison University and holds a degree in Political Science and History.
Ed Bixby, Director (Vice-President), is the owner and operator of Steelmantown Green Burial Preserve in Steelmantown, NJ. Ed’s extensive background in land use and development includes being a licensed New Jersey real estate broker and the owner of Fox and Fox Builders L.L.C. Ed’s experience in the development industry has provided keen insight into better land use practices and drives his passion for the natural burial movement and the benefits it provides to the present and future generations. Ed has led presentations on natural burial for numerous organizations and has provided educational training for both funeral directors and cemeterians alike. Ed resides in southern New Jersey with his wife Kristen and two daughters Ava and Mina.
Lee Webster, Director (Treasurer), is a writer, hospice volunteer, home funeral guide and a public speaker on the benefits and how-to’s of home funerals and green burials. She is also the Director of New Hampshire Funeral Resources and the current President of the National Home Funeral Alliance. Her career spans over 30 years in the areas of public relations and development, including writing grants, case statements and easements for several conservation groups and health agencies in the non-profit sector.
Merilynne Rush, Director (Secretary), is a former home birth midwife and hospice nurse, is a Natural Death Care Educator who teaches individuals, families and groups about how to care for their deceased loved ones at home (home funeral). She is also a trained Advance Care Planning Facilitator through the Gunderson Health System. She was secretary of the National Home Funeral Alliance and founded and co-facilitates a monthly Death Café in Ann Arbor, Michigan.