NextGen Professional of the Year

About the Award

The NextGen Professional of the Year Award is designed to recognize the career accomplishments and community/organization involvement of funeral professionals under the age of 50. For years, the members of Selected's NextGen Group have proven that there are many talented and engaged funeral professionals in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The NextGen Professional of the Year Award is offered to honor their efforts.

Now Accepting Nominations for the 2022 Professional of the Year Award!

The winner of the Award receives complimentary registration to the 2022 NextGen Seminar, taking place January 30 – February 3, 2022 in Grand Cayman, and a stunning crystal award, presented during a ceremony at the meeting. Nominate yourself or a fellow Selected member by October 1.

Congratulations to 2021 Award Winner Whitney Pegues-Beck!

In everything she does, Whitney Pegues-Beck, President of W. E. Pegues, Inc., demonstrates a pursuit of excellence and dedication to funeral service and the legacy of her family’s firm.

Career Excellence
Whitney Beck In 2020, Whitney successfully navigated the succession process and became the owner operator of her family’s firm. “Whitney has taken the reigns of the firm and brought it to new heights,” said fellow NextGen member Josh Blake. “She has overseen renovations and upgrades in equipment and software and seeks what’s most efficient while respecting her very traditional community.”

Whitney has taken the lead in the design, land acquisition and development of "Brookside Gardens," an innovative memorial park garden project in the Lee County community, which will include a non-funeral event venue. She also helped to develop the firm’s "Cremation Choices" program, which has helped her firm increase market share with families choosing cremation.

Committed to the Community
When Whitney joined her local Rotary in 2013, she was one of the few females and the only young adult member. With her guidance, the group began a special recruiting committee to focus on generating more female and young adult members. She suggested hosting recruiting happy hour and after-hours meetings to help the Rotary grow and continue to put service above self.

When Whitney became a member of the GumTree Museum Guild, they soon saw young leadership talent and asked Whitney to serve as the President of the Guild of Volunteers. Whitney worked to turn the museum’s only annual fundraiser into the “For the Love of Art Gala.” Thanks to Whitney and her team’s active community outreach and creative advertising, the attendance doubled, tripling the event’s revenue, and making it a yearly favorite in the community. “Her positive leadership and implementation of professional business practices to a nonprofit organization has increased the standing of the museum in the community,” said Museum Board Member Kathy Corban. “As a result of her leadership and money management skills, the museum is unequivocally in the best financial shape in recent memory.”

Of the many organizations Whitney volunteers her time to, one of her favorites is the Tupelo Women’s Club. She’s become a vital member of the Holiday Tree Festival Committee, recruiting local businesses to contribute so the Club may donate when local charities have low donation seasons.

Selected Involvement
Whitney has participated in numerous Selected programs, meetings and work groups over the years, including every NextGen Seminar since 2014. She served as the NextGen Seminar Co-Chair in 2017 and is a graduate of the Selected Leadership Academy. “Since meeting Whitney at my first NextGen Seminar in 2015, I have found myself continuously impressed with her,” said Josh Blake. “When she was the co-chair for NextGen, we all knew we could trust her to lead our group. She did an incredible job organizing events and making sure everyone had a pleasant experience. But truth be told, she continues to lead the NextGen group. I would say she is an unofficial leader of our group.”

Together with her husband, Jason, Whitney is a committed and loving parent to her young son, Harrison.

Past Award Winners

Learn about past winners of the NextGen Professional of the Year Award.