Read on to get the rundown on all the fantastic guests attending Women of Wonder Con 2020. Not only are they all talented and amazing, you can meet most of them in our Creative Corner throughout the day and find them on panels or hosting workshops!
Lisa Umbarger looks at the world a little differently than most people. She scans the horizon for the next challenge and follows that path to new solutions. This call to adventure has allowed her to explore the connection between various roles and learn from some incredible mentors along the way. With the guidance of these teachers, she has learned that it is not what you do, but how you do it, that matters.
As a founding member of platinum recording artist the Toadies she connected with a new voice to her artistry. Fun Fact: Lisa did not know how to play the bass when she joined the band. The “not knowing” drove her to find a way to courageously move through fear, while ignoring the critics. The Toadies started playing live shows only three months later.
When the Toadies ended, Lisa went out into the world to discover what she wanted to do when she grew up, now that literally being a rock star was checked off the list. She got her irrigators license, managed international marketing for a juice company and invented some cool stuff using nanotechnology. The common thread here, is that she always looked for opportunities to help people and leave spaces better than when she found them.
Being in the music industry helped Lisa realize that there is a huge slant, like a large kid on a see-saw, when it comes to equality and inclusion in the workplace. There will be a day, although it may take some consciousness hacking, when the balance is set right. Now, she is on to her next mission…reuniting with her old Toadies band mates to form SolShifter. Don’t die with the music in you.
Melissa N. Unfred is a dual licensed funeral professional undertaking progressive death care exploration for people and pets. As The Modern Mortician, her goal is education on alternative options in end of life, like Water Cremation (Aquamation), Shades of Green or Natural Burial, and guidance on Body Donation in the honor of Science! She also provides a unique insight into the Funeral Service Industry with a lens of over 20 years observation and participation, and advocates for those desiring a more hands on approach for their own.
She is shadowed by her sidekick, Kermit the Dog, who in March of 2017 became the first certified therapy dog working in funeral service in the State of Texas. Melissa and Kermit serve their community and present often to Non-Profit Organizations and Educators across the country both in person and via online.
Melissa entered funeral service at 17 yrs old. She attended DIFS in 2001 and later in 2012 graduated the top of her class from Amarillo College w/ an Associates of Applied Science, as a decorated member of Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society. She earned her CFSP designation from the APFSP in 2015, March 2016 she was one of 40 selected few to attend the NFDA Meet the Mentors program and later that year selected as a judge on the NFDA Innovation Award panel. She was featured on the Nat Geo Explorer Channel’s Faces of Death documentary, filmed assisting a family in natural shrouded burial. Melissa was nominated for the Rose Professional Spirit Award in 2016, and was selected as the 2015, 2016 & 2017 Reader’s Choice Award recipient for Austin’s Senior Resource Guide Best Funeral Provider. She earned her certification as a Licensed Crematory Operator in the state of Texas in early 2017 and spring, she was awarded SCTFDA Young Professional of the Year by her peers.
Kermit has been featured on Yahoo News, The Dodo, Austin Chronicle, and on the covers of Southwest Airlines Magazine and The Director. Their Instagram, @mod_mortician, has over 35k followers and grows daily as people seek transparency and more information on end of life care.
2018 saw publication in multiple applications, and in 2019 she resumed hands on interaction with families in need at end of life by co founding the first and only Carbon Neutral Funeral Home, Affinity Green Cremation Texas, providing Texans with Water Cremation, Natural Burial, and Greener forms of Flame Cremation.