Our Valued Staff 2020-03-19T22:49:54-04:00

Our Valued Staff

Matthew J. Fiorillo, CFSP : President/Owner

Matthew J. Fiorillo, CFSP

President/Owner

Matthew J. Fiorillo, the owner of Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services, is a licensed funeral director in New York State and Connecticut. He has earned the Certified Funeral Service Practitioner from the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice, Inc. This is noted by the CFSP acronym. Matt has committed to a program of lifelong learning to serve you and families in your community with the level of excellence expected of a CFSP. He is a lifetime member of the White Plains Historical Society, a member of the Knollwood Country Club, and was formally a board member with Hospice and Palliative Care of Westchester. In his spare time, he participates with the Westchester Amateur Astronomers. He is a graduate of Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL, and is originally from West Nyack, NY. He is a long-time resident of Westchester County, where he currently resides.

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Mark Press : Funeral Director

Mark Press

Funeral Director

Mark Press is a New York licensed funeral director and embalmer for Ballard Durand Funeral & Cremation Services. Mark graduated from American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Services in New York, N.Y. and has been in the profession since 2014. Mark is originally from Orange County, N.Y. and after obtaining his license he moved to Florida to be closer to his family. After 2 years he decided to move back home and now resides in Rockland County. Mark has always enjoyed helping others and considers serving each and every family in their greatest time of need a tremendous honor and privilege.

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Melissa Gudiño : Funeral Director

Melissa Gudiño

Funeral Director

Melissa Gudiño is a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer at Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services. Melissa Graduated and received her degree in mortuary science at Cypress College in 2013. After graduating she took some time to travel and have new experiences and moved from Southern California, where she was born and raised, to New Orleans. She moved back to California and completed her apprenticeship for licensure in 2017 and currently holds an embalming license and Funeral Directors license in the state of California. She is a resident of the Bronx and now a licensed Funeral Director in the state of New York.

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Joseph Schuka : Funeral Director

Joseph Schuka

Funeral Director

Joseph Schuka is a licensed funeral director and embalmer for Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services. He has worked in funeral service for the past 15 years, and has been a licensed funeral director for 12 years. Formerly a native of Peekskill, NY, where he was well-established in the community and his church. Joe currently manages our Dutchess County location at Libby Funeral & Cremation Services in Beacon, NY. He is an active communicant of St. Joachim-St. John Parish in Beacon, NY; where he thoroughly enjoys assisting when needed as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, and whatever else is needed by the parish Priests and Deacons.

Joe is a Fourth Degree Member and Past-Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus Msgr. Ansbro Council 462 of Peekskill and is also a Past-President and currently Vice-President of the Peekskill Lions Club. Joe is a member of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, with membership in the Peekskill Lodge 744, and again sincerely appreciates the friendly welcome from the local Beacon Lodge 1493, to partake in their civic and fraternal affairs.

As you can notice Joe has a deep love for community and giving back of himself, recently Joe has become the newest member of the Exchange Club of Southern Dutchess. Also very dear to his heart are the Veterans, he has a great sense of Patriotism which was instilled in him at an early age by his paternal grandmother. He can be seen assisting the local VFW with veteran affairs.

Joe truly enjoys his life’s calling as funeral director; assisting families at that most difficult time in their lives, easing the moments, and providing a lasting tribute for generations to remember that loved one forever.

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Heidie Garcia : Family Care Coordinator

Heidie Garcia

Family Care Coordinator

Heidie is often the first voice you'll hear when calling our funeral homes. Through the years, Heidie has always had a passion for helping families through life's most difficult times, which lead to beginning a career as a healthcare major. Heidie earned her Associates in Medical Assistant from ASA College in New York, NY. After graduating, she worked in the healthcare field for about ten years in Maria Fareri Children's Hospital. She decided to further her education and received a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Monroe College in the Bronx. Throughout her healthcare career, she always found interest in Funeral Service and eventually gained the opportunity to work for Ballard-Durand Funeral Home & Cremation Services. She is using this opportunity to embrace her passion for helping families through all stages of life. Heidie is a Bronx native who is very proud to be a part of her community and hometown.

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Staci Kerdesky : Family Care Coordinator

Staci Kerdesky

Family Care Coordinator

Staci is a recent graduate of the Mortuary Science Program at Nassau Community College on Long Island, NY. Staci joined our team while still a student to gain experience in the funeral service industry. Originally a linguistics major, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Japanese Language Studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. After living and working in Yokohama Japan as an English Language Teacher for some time, she returned to the states to pursue a career in the funeral service industry. Her goal now is to acquire her Funeral Director’s license in the State of New York. She now resides in her hometown of New Windsor, New York in Orange County; where she enjoys the natural beauty of the historic Hudson Valley.

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Rocco Botta : Apprentice Funeral Director

Rocco Botta

Apprentice Funeral Director

Rocco is life-long Orange County resident, currently resides in Highland, NY. He began work at Ballard-Durand in March of 2020. He has worked in funeral service for three-years. Rocco developed a passion for funeral service at the age of 17 and began work at his local funeral home in Cornwall-on-Hudson, Orange County, NY. After graduating from high school, he enrolled into the mortuary science program at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY where he has one-more semester left.

Rocco discovered Ballard-Durand through a school project and enjoyed the experience so much he was interested in joining the team. Caring for families in times of crisis and pain is what inspired Rocco to enter funeral service and is what fuels his passion today. Aside from his love for the profession, his second passion is music which in his spare time he enjoys perfecting his guitar skills.

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Roy Watkins : Funeral Assistant

Roy Watkins

Funeral Assistant

Roy Watkins was born and raised in London, England, where he received a degree in Electronic Engineering. He has lived in the Westchester/Putnam area since moving to the United States in 1972. He started working on a part time basis with the funeral industry in 1977 leading to a full time position with Ballard-Durand in 2006. Families appreciate Roy’s courtesy and professionalism during calling hours and services.

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Elizabeth Phaire : Celebrant

Elizabeth Phaire

Celebrant
Elizabeth Phaire, Master Life-Cycle Celebrant® and Non-denominational Minister, with certifications from the Celebrant Foundation and Institute.

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Laura Hanlon, LCSW : Grief and Bereavement Counselor

Laura Hanlon, LCSW

Grief and Bereavement Counselor

Laura Hanlon is a New York State masters level licensed clinical social worker who specializes in grief and bereavement counseling.  Laura has worked with Veterans and survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

For the past 12 years Laura has done end of life work with a local Westchester hospice. She is a graduate of Fordham University.  Laura lives in Northern Westchester with her family. She likes going for long walks, reading, gardening and meditating. She finds meditation is greatly relaxing.

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Lulu : Comfort Companion

Lulu

Comfort Companion

Lulu, a golden doodle, our newest staff member came to our Westchester County funeral home organization by way of Florida and has been trained for duty as our official Therapy Dog. Affectionately called the firm’s “Comfort Companion,” Lulu follows the lead of service dogs often used in health care settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes, and provides families with unconditional love and support, as well as a subtle distraction from their grief.

A fixture at both funeral homes, Lulu is often seen lounging around the office and is only introduced to families upon their request. Although extremely friendly and very outgoing, the staff of Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services is quick to offer treats to any visitor who may want to play with her. Lulu will gladly take up her post in the main hallway of the home and welcome visitors in.

Always known for thinking “outside of the box,” Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services is the only firm in Westchester County to have a “Comfort Dog” on staff. Lulu found a special niche at the funeral home where she soothes grieving families with her calming presence. The funeral home does everything within its capabilities to make its facilities warm and comforting – we’re not your typical funeral home. Outside of her duties, Lulu is a cheerful family dog, and loves cuddling with her family at home, going for walks, and playing in the yard.

Would you like Lulu to come and visit your organization or school? Our comfort companion is eager inform our community about her job and help those in need. Lulu is an expert in caring for those in Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Facilities and Elementary & Middle Schools.
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