Where Funeral Service is Our Only Major
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Faculty & Staff

Commonwealth Faculty and Staff

Raising the Bar of Educational Excellence

Cody L. Lopasky, CFSP

Cody L. Lopasky

Cody L. Lopasky

Cody Lopasky has an M.A. in Psychology and History from the University of Houston-Victoria, a B.A. in Psychology from Texas State University-San Marcos, and he is an A.A.S. graduate with honors and distinction from Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service. As a student at Commonwealth, Lopasky was a member of the National Funeral Service Honor Society. He is a Texas-licensed funeral director and embalmer, a certified crematory operator, and chairs the Curriculum Study Committee and the College and University Council for the American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE).

Starting in high school, and continuing after licensure, Lopasky worked at Schmidt Funeral Home in Katy, TX. He was employed there as a funeral director and embalmer for several years before joining the education side of funeral service in 2016 when he accepted a full-time faculty position.

After serving as the Associate Dean of Academics and the Distance Education Coordinator, Lopasky became President of Commonwealth Institute in July of 2021.  He has published professional articles and is a contributing author for several funeral service textbooks.

James W. Robinson, CFSP

Dean of Academics
James W. Robinson

James W. Robinson

James Robinson holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Houston and is currently finishing his M.S in Management and Leadership from the University of Houston – C.T. Bauer College of Business.  He is also an A.A.S. graduate with honors and distinction from Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service.  As a student at Commonwealth, Robinson was a member of the National Funeral Service Honor Society and President of his graduating class.  He is a Texas-licensed funeral director and embalmer and a certified crematory operator. 

Upon graduation from Commonwealth Institute, Robinson worked at Clayton Funeral Home in Pearland, Texas as a funeral director and embalmer for over ten years before joining the staff of Commonwealth in 2021.  Robinson is currently the Dean of Academics and teaches face-to-face and online courses. 

Christopher C. Layton

Dean of Students, Title IX Coordinator
Christopher C. Layton

Christopher C. Layton

Christopher Layton has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and a master’s degree from the University of Houston. Layton graduated from the mortuary science program at Cypress College in Cypress, Calif., and is a licensed funeral director and embalmer in Arizona, California and Texas.

Layton  began working, as a teenager, for his cousin’s funeral home in Safford, Ariz. While attending Arizona State University, he served his apprenticeship at Messinger Mortuary in Scottsdale, Ariz. After graduation, he relocated to Los Angeles, where he taught school and continued working in the funeral profession on the weekends. In 1988, he joined the training department of Pierce Brothers Mortuaries, one of the largest and oldest funeral firms in Los Angeles. In 1991, he accepted a position with the training department of Service Corporation International in Houston, the world’s largest provider of funeral and cemetery services. At that time, he began teaching part-time at Commonwealth Institute and full-time in 1992, he accepted it. He is currently Dean of Students and teaches mainly in the funeral service arts.

In Los Angeles, Layton was a board member of the Los Angeles County Funeral Directors Association. He currently serves on the board of the Houston Metropolitan Funeral Directors Association and is a past chair of the Programs and Education Committee of the Texas Funeral Directors Association.


Jessika Jenkins, CFSP

Director of Operations
Jessika Jenkins

Jessika Jenkins

Jessika has been a proud Houstonian since 2005. Originally from Waxahachie, Texas she moved to College Station, Texas after graduating high school where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Sociology from Texas A&M University. Shortly after graduation she attended Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service and became a licensed funeral director and embalmer in the state of Texas. Later, she became the Student Services Coordinator at Commonwealth Institute. This began her passion for helping people reach their dreams and goals with effective education.

In pursuit of becoming a better educator, Jessika went on to earn a Master’s in Education for Instructional Technology from Texas Tech University. After years in higher education, Jessika decided to take her talents to the K-12 classroom where she taught 6th grade science. Having a love for education and the funeral industry she was excited to return to Commonwealth Institute as the Director of Operations.

Patricia Moreno

Email: p.moreno@commonwealth.edu
Patricia Moreno

Patricia Moreno

Patricia Ann Tamayo Moreno graduated from Commonwealth College of Sciences in 1980 and began her apprenticeship with Darling Mouser Funeral Home in her hometown of Brownsville, Texas. She completed her apprenticeship at Heights Funeral Home in Houston and came to work for the Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service in 1981. She married another graduate of Commonwealth College of Sciences, well-known funeral director Jesse B. Moreno.  Before his death, Jesse served as the marshal during Commonwealth Institute commencement ceremonies for several years.

Moreno is a member of the National Funeral Service Honor Society; president of Commonwealth Institute Alumni Association; member of Texas Funeral Directors Association; and past-president of the Houston Metropolitan Funeral Directors Association.

Rene’ Altheimer

Admissions Counselor, Title IX Coordinator
Email: r.altheimer@commonwealth.edu
Rene' Altheimer

Rene’ Altheimer

René Altheimer began her funeral service education career with Commonwealth Institute in October, 2012, as a member of the Admissions Team.  René came to Commonwealth with over 25 years’ executive administrative experience in the private sector, having worked for a multi-million dollar ethnic hair care company in Arkansas.

René became the Admissions Specialist in 2015 and then Admissions Counselor in 2021. She currently processes new applications, provides detailed information about the two programs we offer, provides admissions counseling, and coordinates various other duties as they relate to the admissions and graduation processes. René also currently serves as Title IX Coordinator for Commonwealth Institute.

Shantelle D. Holts, CFSP

Distance Education Coordinator
Email: s.holts@commonwealth.edu


Shantelle D. Holts

Shantelle D. Holts

Shantelle is a graduate of Commonwealth Institute and a licensed funeral director and embalmer.  After several years of serving as an adjunct faculty member, she joined the staff as the Distance Education Coordinator in 2021.

Marlene Perry

Financial Aid Advisor
Email: m.perry@commonwealth.edu
Marlene Perry

Marlene Perry

Marlene joined Commonwealth Institute after spending over twenty years managing a doctor’s medical practice.  Marlene coordinates all financial aid activities and assists students with finding the funding to pursue their educational careers.

Marlene was born in Cartagena, Colombia, and moved to the United States as a child with her parents and siblings.  After finishing high school, Marlene earned her undergraduate degree from Saint Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.

Marlene is married and has four children ranging in age from sixteen to twenty-two.  When not at the office helping students, Marlene enjoys the outdoors, is an avid runner, loves to cook, and volunteers at local charities.

David Taylor

Clinical Coordinator
Email: d.taylor@commonwealth.edu
David E. Taylor

David E. Taylor

David E. Taylor, Jr. is a 1994 graduate of Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service. He served and completed his apprenticeship in 1995, with Huntsville Funeral Home in Huntsville, Texas. He spent 20 years, both in staff and management, serving many families and communities in the states of Texas, Missouri, and New Mexico. He joined Commonwealth Institute in 2014, where he loves teaching and being a mentor to those entering the funeral profession. In his spare time, David enjoys being out on the lake where he is licensed as a boat captain.

David is a member of the Commonwealth Institute Alumni Association, Texas Funeral Directors Association, and Southeast Texas Funeral Directors Association.

Melissa B. Davis

Email: library@commonwealth.edu
Melissa B. Davis

Melissa B. Davis

Melissa Brady Davis received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in 1972. She completed her Master of Library Science degree in 1980 at Sam Houston State University. For 34 years she served an area school district as campus Librarian, Technology Coordinator, and District Library Coordinator. She joined Commonwealth Institute in 2013.

Mrs. Davis is a member of the Texas Library Association, the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, and the Texas Retired Teachers Association. She and her husband are “The Invented Wheel Education Consultants”. In her spare time Mrs. Davis enjoys reading, woodworking, and flying.

Sylvia Sanchez

Receptionist & Admissions Assistant
Email: s.sanchez@commonwealth.edu
Sylvia Sanchez

Sylvia Sanchez

Sylvia Sanchez began her funeral service education career with Commonwealth Institute in March 2021, after spending well over 16 years in Admissions with F.W.I.S.D., Tarrant County College, and Texas A&M College of Dentistry.

After finishing high school in her hometown of Monahans, TX, Sylvia attended Odessa College in Odessa, TX and Tarrant County College in Ft. Worth, TX.

Sylvia has three sons ranging in age from twenty-four to thirty.  She also has two grandchildren, ages 7 and 8.  When not at the office helping students, Sylvia enjoys shopping, fishing, cooking, traveling, and spending time with family.

Stuart E. Moen, CFSP

Professor Emeritus

Stuart E. Moen

Stuart Moen, a native of Rapid City, SD, graduated in 1978 with an M.A. degree in Adult and Higher Education from the University of South Dakota at Vermillion. In 1980, he graduated with a B.S. degree with distinction from the University of Minnesota—Dept. of Mortuary Science.

Dean Moen began his career in funeral service education in February, 1984. He taught Anatomy I & II, Embalming I, II & III, Forensic Pathology, Microbiology and Thanatochemistry.

In May 1988, Moen became Dean of Academics at Commonwealth Institute.

After almost 38 years of training the next generation of funeral service professionals, he retired as Interim President in June of 2021.  In honor of his years of service, Commonwealth Institute awarded Moen the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.  Stuart Moen now resides in Las Vegas, NV with his beloved Raiders.


Madeleine Crespo


M.Ed. University of Arizona

B.S. University of Arizona

A.A.S. Institute of Funeral Service

Professional Licensure: Texas

Jenine D. Fastuca


M.L.A. Houston Baptist University

B.S. Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Catharine Flanner


Ph.D. Capella University

M.C.J. University of Colorado

B.S. Metropolitan University

A.A.S. Arapahoe Community College

Professional Licensure: Texas

Louise Gohmann, CFSP


M.Ed. Concordia University

B.A. Indiana University

Diploma, Pittsburgh Institute

Professional Licensure: Florida, Indiana, Kentucky

Jane Hemberger


M.Ed. Boston College

B.F.A. University of California Berkeley

A.A.S. Commonwealth Institute

Professional Licensure: Texas

Dr. Stephen Henry


Ph.D. University of Texas

M.S. University of Texas

B.A. Washington University

Donald Kessler


M.S. Texas A & M University

B.S. Wright University

Calvin Lewis, CFSP


M.I.S. Indiana University

B.A. Indiana University

A.A.S. Mid-America College of Funeral Service

Professional Licensure: Indiana, Kentucky

Gustave Milburn, Jr.


M.A. University of Texas at San Antonio

B.S. Texas A&M University

Remo Portelli


M.S.W. Fordham University

B.A. Upsala College

Certificate of Proficiency, Funeral Directing – St. Louis Community College

Professional Licensure: Texas

Jennafer Schnautz


M.S. Texas A & M University

B.S. Rice University

Dr. Michael Wicker


Ed.D. Stephen F. Austin State University

M.I.S. Stephen F. Austin State University

B.A. Stephen F. Austin State University

Main Campus

Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Service
415 Barren Springs Drive
Houston, Texas 77090
Office Telephone: (281) 873-0262
Toll Free: (800) 628-1580
Fax: (281) 873-5232