SLIG 2019 Faculty


Deborah A. Abbott, PhD

Deborah Abbott PhDDeborah A. Abbott, PhD, is a professional genealogist, specializing in African American research, manuscript collections and genealogy methodology. She is a Trustee on the Board of the Ohio Genealogical Society (OGS), a member of the Cuyahoga County Archives Advisory Commission in Cleveland, and a member of the Board of Directors for FGS. She is an associate with the Kentucky-Tennessee Associates based in Springfield, TN, past president of the African American Genealogical Society, Cleveland, Ohio, and a retired professor of Counseling from Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. She holds both the BS and MEd degrees from Tuskegee University in Alabama and the PhD degree from Kent State University in Ohio.

Dr. Abbott is an instructor at IGHR, SLIG and the African American Genealogy Colloquium at Alabama State University in Montgomery, AL. She presents lectures and workshops at a variety of national, state, and local genealogy conferences across the country, as well as colleges, businesses, and libraries. She has had articles published in the Ohio Genealogy News and Family Tree Magazines. Dr. Abbott can also be seen teaching African American research entitled Needles & Threads on Ancestry Academy, an educational video course for

Dr. Abbott is a member of NGS, APG, GSG, as well as other state and local genealogical societies. She teaches monthly classes entitled “Using in Genealogy Research” at the Lakewood (Ohio) Public Library and coordinates/teaches the “Genealogy and Family History Clinic” for the Cleveland Public Library.

A Cleveland native, she is a life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the Tuskegee University National Alumni Association, and Antioch Baptist Church.

Barbara J. Ball, CG

Barbara Ball, CGBarbara Ball is a professional genealogist and former GIS analyst. She has 16 years experience in spatial analysis and cartography, and over 15 years experience as a genealogist. Personal research focuses on Ohio, Vermont, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. She currently serves on the Board of the APG and as genealogist for Clan Cunningham International. Barbara is pursuing her Ph.D. in History/Genealogy at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. She takes client for both general genealogical research and cartographic production. She was certified by the BCG in June of 2015 (Certified Genealogist) and by GISCI in December of 2008 (GIS Professional). Barbara lives in Arizona with her husband, has three children and two grandchildren.

Claire Mire Bettag, CG, FUGA

Claire BettagClaire Bettag, CG, FUGA, FNGS, is a professional genealogist in Washington D.C. focusing on Louisiana French and Acadian families. She has lectured nationally and was a contributing author to Professional Genealogy (ed. Elizabeth Shown Mills, 2001). She has published in the NGS Quarterly, APG Quarterly, and other publications. Currently she is writing a book about her paternal line for private publication. She has served as the director of NIGR (now Gen-Fed) a ProGen mentor, and on the boards of NGS, APG, and BCG. She is on the NGSQ editorial board and volunteers at the National Archives.

Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD

Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JDBlaine Bettinger, PhD, JD, is a professional genealogist specializing in DNA evidence. In 2007 he started The Genetic Genealogist (, one of the earliest blogs on the topic. Blaine is the author of The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy, and co-author with Debbie Parker Wayne of the award-winning Genetic Genealogy in Practice, the world’s first genetic genealogy workbook. He also co-authored “Genetics for Genealogy” with Judy Russell in 2018’s Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards (ProGen PPS) (Elizabeth Shown Mills, Author and Editor).

Blaine is or has been an instructor for genetic genealogy courses at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), and Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research. Blaine is a graduate of ProGen Study Group 21, a trustee for the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society’s Board of Trustees, and a board member for the Association of Professional Genealogists.

F. Warren Bittner, CG

Warren Bittner, CGWarren Bittner, CG, holds an MS (History), and works full-time in genealogical research, lecturing, consulting, and writing. He was assistant director of the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy in 2010. He is the former German Collection Manager for the Family History Library in Salt Lake where he planned microfilming, indexing, and internet publications. He made several appearances on the PBS television series, Ancestors 2. He has done extensive research in US, German, and Swiss records, and is an expert in late nineteenth-century New York City Research. He is a former member of the board of directors for the Utah Genealogical Association.

He is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, The Palatines to America Society, and the Mid-Atlantic German Society. He is married to Nancy Ruth Christensen and is the father of three children. Warren has been using Millennia Corporation's Legacy Family Tree genealogy software for both his personal and client research for over ten years. He has been actively involved in the beta test for Legacy 7.4 since it was initially released in January 2010.

Angie Bush, MS

Angie Bush, MSAngie Bush, MS (Biotechnology), BS (Molecular Biology), is the Director of Region 1 for the National Genealogical Society. She is a professional genetic genealogist and has been researching her own family since she was 8 years old. She regularly provides advice regarding genetic genealogy to other genealogists in the Salt Lake City area where she lives with her husband and two descendants. Prior to her involvement with genetic genealogy, she pursued a career in molecular and clinical genetics. Between obtaining her bachelor's and master's degrees, she spent several years working in the biotech industry where she gained an in-depth, working knowledge of the technologies used in DNA testing. Angie has helped many adoptees to find their biological family through autosomal DNA testing, and is particularly focused on using DNA as a genealogical record to reconstruct relationships and break down brick walls – whether they are recent or several hundred years old.

Angie is a member of the Association for Professional Genealogists, International Society of Genetic Genealogists and Utah Genealogical Association.

John Philip Colletta, PhD, FUGA

John Colletta John Philip Colletta is one of America’s most popular genealogical lecturers. Knowledgeable, experienced, and entertaining, he resides in Washington, DC. For twenty years, while laying the foundation for his career in genealogy, he worked half-time at the Library of Congress and taught workshops at the National Archives.

Today Dr. Colletta lectures nationally, teaches at local schools, and conducts programs for the Smithsonian Institution’s Resident Associate Program. He is a faculty member of the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (Athens, GA), the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, and Boston University’s Certificate in Family History program. He has also been an instructor and course coordinator for the National Institute on Genealogical Research (Washington, DC), the Genealogical Institute of Texas (Dallas), and the Genealogical Institute of Mid-America (Springfield, IL).

His publications include numerous articles, both scholarly and popular, two manuals — They Came in Ships: A Guide to Finding Your Immigrant Ancestor's Arrival Record and Finding Italian Roots: The Complete Guide for Americans — and one “murder-mystery-family-history,” Only a Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy and Its Aftermath. It tells the story of Colletta’s great great grandfather, Joe Ring, who moved his family from Buffalo, New York, to Rolling Fork, Mississippi, after the Civil War. When Joe Ring’s country store burned to the ground with five unfortunate victims sleeping upstairs, the incident was investigated as mass murder, robbery and arson.

Dr. Colletta appears frequently on podcasts and local and national radio and television. He is featured in Episode Four of Ancestors, the ten-part KBYU-TV series, as well as its sequel. He has received many professional honors, including fellowship in the Utah Genealogical Association and distinguished service awards from the Dallas Genealogical Society and the National Society, Daughters of Colonial Founders and Patriots.

Catherine B. W. Desmarais, CG

Catherine Desmarais, CGA full-time professional genealogist, author, and educator, Catherine is the owner of Stone House Historical Research. She is the immediate past Vice-President of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), and has previously served on the board of the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy. Board-certified since 2011, she specializes in forensic research for probate, real estate, and military repatriation cases. She has a broad range of experience in the US and internationally, with a particular focus on Vermont and Ireland.

Catherine has a Masters in Education from the University of Vermont, and has taught at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh, and the Forensic Genealogy Institute. Her research and writing has been published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Crossroads, and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly.

Victor S. Dunn, CG

Victor S. DunnVictor S. “Vic” Dunn, CG, is a full-time professional researcher. The coordinator for the Virginia track at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, he is a frequent contributor to major genealogical publications including feature articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, The Genealogist, BCG OnBoard, and Magazine of Virginia Genealogy. In 2014 he received the Mosher Award for Colonial Virginia Research and was named as the official genealogist of the Order of First Families of Virginia. He is a past trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, past treasurer of the National Genealogical Society and past governor of the Virginia Genealogical Society.

Billie Stone Fogarty, MEd

Billie FogartyBillie Stone Fogarty, a full time professional genealogist and Life member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, has served the genealogical community in several capacities. Currently she serves as President of this international organization. A frequent speaker at national conferences, she is former president of the Genealogical Speakers Guild. She is also active on the regional, state, and local level in advancing genealogical research and open records access as the state liaison for the Records Preservation and Access Committee. She has worked diligently for the Oklahoma Genealogical Society (seven terms as President) and the Oklahoma Historical Society (Board of Directors and Executive Committee, Research Committee, and Publications Committee). Her background as an educator shows through in her passion for leading others to find out about their own family history.

Rick Fogarty

Rick FogartyRick Fogarty is a professional genealogical researcher and lecturer in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He is a third-generation genealogist with deep Oklahoma roots and a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation. He specializes in Native American, adoption, and DNA and forensic genealogical research. He has attended the Boston University program on forensic genealogy, the Forensic Genealogy Institute course on genetic genealogy, and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy course on professional genealogy. He is a life member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. He is a member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild. He is an instructor on Native American genealogy for the Virtual Institute for Genealogical Research and lectures frequently on many genealogical topics. He currently serves on the board for the Oklahoma Genealogical Society. He is a member of the National Genealogical Society and the International Society of Genetic Genealogy.

LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, CGL

LaBrenda Garrett-NelsonLaBrenda Garrett-Nelson is an author and lecturer who focuses on African American families with roots in the South; she also serves as a facilitator on the faculty of the Boston University Online Genealogical Program. LaBrenda was approved as a board-certified genealogist in 2015, and elected as a trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists in 2016. She earned a BA in government from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, and both a Law degree and a Master of Laws degree from New York University School of Law. While practicing law, LaBrenda authored several editions of her family history as well as two church histories. She has been published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, among other genealogical publications. In 2016 LaBrenda published A Guide to Researching African American Ancestors in Laurens County, South Carolina and Selected Finding Aids, a book that was widely acclaimed as a model for research in South Carolina and other states. Other publications are listed on her website:

Paul K. Graham, AG, CG, CGL

Paul GrahamPaul K. Graham, AG, CG, CGL, is a Senior Genealogist at AncestryProGenealogists, where he conducts research for clients and for the television show Who Do You Think You Are?. He specializes in genealogical problem solving across the English-speaking world. Paul is BCG-certified and an ICAPGen Accredited Genealogist professional, and he holds a master’s degree in public history and a professional certificate in geographic information systems. He has authored or co-authored numerous books and articles, including Georgia Courthouse Disasters and Georgia Land Lottery Research. His publications have earned him the National Genealogical Society (NGS) Award for Excellence and the American Society of Genealogists (ASG) Scholar Award, and he is a winner of the NGS Family History Writing Contest. Paul grew up in North Carolina and Georgia and currently resides in Logan, Utah.

Michael G. Hait, CG, CGL

Michael HaitMichael Hait, CG, CGL, is a full-time professional genealogical researcher, writer, and lecturer. He has written case studies for several genealogical journals including the Maryland Genealogical Society Journal, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. In 2012 Michael won 1st prize in the National Genealogical Society Family History Writing Competition for his article ‘In the Shadow of Rebellions’, exploring descendants of an enslaved woman living in 19th-century Maryland. Michael currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (2016–2019), and formerly served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Genealogists (2012–2013). He is co-owner and co-administrator of the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research.

Patricia Hobbs, CG

Patricia HobbsPatti Lee Hobbs, CG, works as a part-time professional genealogist as well as occasionally in the Local History & Genealogy Department at the Springfield-Greene County Library in Springfield, Missouri. Patti has researched extensively in many courthouses and repositories. She volunteers as the webmaster and head of the Education Committee for the Ozarks Genealogical Society, as a trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, and a BCG Education Fund trustee. Patti is passionate about genealogical education and helping others understand the joys of seeking original records and learning more about their ancestors.

Melanie D. Holtz, CG

Melanie D. HoltzMelanie D. Holtz, CG, is a full-time professional genealogist, lecturer, and writer specializing in Italian genealogy and dual citizenship. She operates an international research firm that maintains offices in both the U.S. and Italy. Melanie is a board-certified genealogist who lectures and writes on Italian genealogy, professional development, and genealogical standards.

She is a former APG board member and chair of the Professional Development Committee, where she advocated for mentorship and expanded educational offerings within the organization. Melanie is also a co-administrator of the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research and published multiple Italian genealogy courses, as well as The Family Tree Italian Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Family Tree in Italy.

Baerbel Johnson, AG

Baerbel JohnsonBaerbel K. Johnson, AG, is a professional genealogist and works for FamilySearch as a European research specialist.

She holds degrees in Family and Local History Studies and Sociology from BYU, and has over thirty years of extensive experience in European family history research with emphasis on Germany. She has published a number of journal articles, contributed material for several books, and lectured at various conferences. Her personal interest is in “putting flesh on the genealogical skeleton” by placing each individual within a proper social and historical context.

Baerbel is a member of NGS, the German Professional Genealogists Association, and the German Society for Computer Genealogy.

Melissa Johnson, CG

Melissa Johnson Melissa Johnson, CG, is a professional genealogist, writer and editor. She has expertise in researching families with origins in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and England, and works on forensic cases, dual citizenship matters, and lineage society applications. She is also proficient in using DNA test results to break through ancestral brick walls. Melissa is the former Editor of NGS Monthly and frequently writes articles on methodology and sources. She is also Reviews Editor of the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (APGQ), and editor of the GSNJ Newsletter, a publication of the Genealogical Society of New Jersey.

Daniel R. Jones, MA, AG

Daniel R. Jones, MA, AGDaniel R. Jones, MA, AG, is an accredited genealogist specializing in Germanic and Slavic research. Awarded a BA in Family History/Genealogy from Brigham Young University and an MS in Early Modern European History from the University of Utah, Daniel has been working professionally since 2003. He has conducted on-site research in church and state archives in a dozen European countries, including Poland and Belarus. He is currently a research specialist for Germanic and Slavic research for the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS

Karen Maurer Jones Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS, of Monroe, New York, is an editor, author, lecturer, and professional genealogist, specializing in upstate New York, and currently employed as editor of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. She was named a fellow of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society in November 2012. She holds an MA in museum studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Museum Studies (State University of New York, Oneonta) and a BS (honors) in history (State University of New York, Oneonta). She has served on the Education Committee of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society since 2011. She has served APG as a Regional Vice President (1993-1994) and as Director (1993-1996 and again from 2009-2010). She has also served the genealogical community as Director and Vice President of Administration for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) from 1992 to 2002; National Conference Chair of the 1997 FGS conference in Dallas, Texas; Chair of the FGS Public Relations Committee, 1992-1998.

The owner of Frontier Press, a genealogical and historical bookstore, Karen is the author of articles in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, as well as the two-volume set of The Kentucky Gazette: Genealogical and Historical Abstracts, 1787-1820, the two-volume set of Pioneer Ohio Newspapers: Genealogical and Historical Abstracts, 1793-1818 (winner of the 1989 Salmon P. Chase Award, Council of Ohio Genealogists), and The Maryland Gazette: Genealogical and Historical Abstracts, 1727-1761 (winner of the 1991 Norris Harris Award, Maryland Historical Society).

Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS

Tom Jones Thomas W. Jones works and plays full-time as a genealogical editor, educator, researcher, and writer. He has lectured at national genealogy conferences since 1996, coedited the National Genealogical Society Quarterly since 2002, coordinated courses at genealogy institutes since 2006, and taught “Evidence Analysis and Documentation,” in Boston University’s genealogy certificate program. Tom also is the author of Mastering Genealogical Proof, a popular textbook on genealogical methods.

An active genealogist since his teens, Tom's research encompasses records of most American states and France, Germany, Ireland, and Italy. He specializes, however, in Georgia, the Midwest, Northern Ireland, Upstate New York, and Virginia. Tom writes and speaks frequently on genealogical methods applicable across geographic areas and time periods.

Michael D. Lacopo, DVM

Michael Lacopo Dr. Michael D. Lacopo was born and raised in northern Indiana surrounded by extended family always willing to tell tall tales. Intrigued by his maternal family’s claim to be kinfolk of Abraham Lincoln, and his paternal family’s stories of murder and mayhem, he took to genealogical research in 1980 to substantiate these family stories. Genealogical research as a hobby was in its infancy in the 1980s. Combing libraries, archives, cemeteries and courthouses as a teenager, Michael gained the skills needed to become a keen researcher. His first major challenge in the world of research was tackled by finding his adopted mother’s birthparents in 1982. You can read about this adventure at his blog at with some engaging story telling, plot twists and new findings!

Although a budding genealogist in the 1980s, Michael completed his doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1991, while still spending time honing his research skills. As befitting a doctor, Michael treats his genealogical research as he would medicine – carefully, methodically and completely. Several genealogical journal articles and publications appeared along the way. In 2013, Michael retired from his medical career to pursue genealogical research full-time as a profession. He has contributed to numerous periodicals and has helped numerous people in their quests to locate their relatives – living and dead. He appeared in USA Today in 2000 discussing genealogy and the proposed destruction of the federal census tabulated in that year. His national lecturing began in Sacramento, CA, at the National Genealogical Society’s national conference in 2004, and has continued with several local, state, national, and international conference speaking engagements to this present day.

Michael's interests and strengths include Mennonite research, German and Swiss research, especially as it pertains to the 18th century immigration to America, among many other topics. He makes many trips throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states chasing ancestors in primary repositories, and also devotes a considerable amount of time to European research, being proficient in reading German script. Having ancestors from many geographic locales as well as immigrants spanning the 17th century to the 20th century, Michael has a wide variety of proficiencies. He believes that as genealogists we should tell the tales or our ancestors and is a vocal proponent for learning the social history that interweaves our ancestors into the fabric of the past.

In addition to his story-telling and educational blog, Michael’s presence can be found online at, or for more up-to-date lecture and research information, at his Facebook page at

Marissa Louie Lee

Marissa Louie LeeMarisa Louie Lee is an avid researcher and genealogist passionate about connecting families with records that matter to them. A former archivist at the National Archives at San Francisco, Marisa is co-author of the article "The A-Files: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors", published in the Spring 2013 issue of Prologue magazine. She served as a research assistant for the book Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America(2010) and as a researcher for the documentary film The Chinese Exclusion Act (premiering on American Experience on PBS in May 2018.) Marisa is a proud alumna of the San Francisco-based "Roots" program (, which brought her to her grandfather's ancestral village in China in 2004, and continues to volunteer her research skills to assist program participants.

J. Mark Lowe, CG, FUGA

J. Mark LoweJ. Mark Lowe describes himself as a lifelong genealogist. He is a full-time professional genealogist, author, and lecturer who specializes in original records and manuscripts throughout the South. Mark lives in Robertson County, Tennessee just north of Nashville near the Kentucky border.

Mark enjoys opportunities to share what he has learned over the years. He serves as the Course Coordinator for ‘Research in the South’ at IGHR (Georgia Genealogical Society) and also directs Southern courses for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG). Mark has worked on several genealogical television series including Finding Your Past, African American Lives 2, Who Do You Think You Are? and UnXplained Events, and provided content for podcasts on Gimlet Media, including Twice Removed.

Mark has published in the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (APGQ), National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), the Genealogical Speakers’ Guild SPEAK!, The Longhunter (So. Ky. Genealogical Society), The Middle Tennessee Genealogical Society Quarterly and other local society publications. He formerly was President of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), President for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), and President of the Southern Kentucky Genealogical Society. Mark is a Certified Genealogist and a Fellow of the Utah Genealogical Society, and was awarded the Graham T. Smallwood award by the Association of Professional Genealogists.

Angela Packer McGhie, CG

Angela Packer McGhieAngela Packer McGhie, CG, is a professional researcher, lecturer and instructor. She coordinates the Intermediate Genealogy course at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, and the Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum course at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. Angela is an instructor at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, and the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records. She speaks at national and regional conferences, and is an instructor for the Boston University Genealogical Research Certificate program.

Angela served as the administrator of the ProGen Study Program for six years and is now on the board of directors. She is a past president of the National Capital Area Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists and has published in the APG Quarterly and the NGS Magazine. Angela currently serves a trustee for the Board for Certification of Genealogists Education Fund.

Kelvin L. Meyers

Kelvin L. MeyersA fifth generation Texan and professional genealogist since 1990 and an avid researcher-historian since 1979, Kelvin is a frequent speaker to many genealogical societies and family associations throughout the US. He was employed for ten years in the Genealogy Department of the Dallas Public Library. Now he works as a forensic genealogist, working with attorneys, banks, and energy companies, identifying missing or unknown heirs to estates and oil and gas leases. Kelvin worked for three years with the New England Historical and Genealogical Society as their southern research expert.

In 2016 Kelvin completed the Research in States Guide for Texas, published by the National Genealogical Society. Kelvin is the Director of the Texas Institute of Genealogical Research (TIGR). He is a founding member and has served on the board of the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy.

Anne Gillespie Mitchell

Anne Gillespie MitchellAnne is a Product Manager at Ancestry working on Ancestry Library, K12, and RootsWeb. She has been a faculty member at SLIG and TIGR. She has lectured for more than a decade on genealogy topics focusing on southern research, Civil War, cluster genealogy, and online search techniques. Anne has developed multiple courses for Ancestry Academy and written and produced many of the short videos on the site.

Before Ancestry, she worked in the internet industry in software development and was a product manager for companies including CNET, Webshots, and Excite@Home. She earned a master’s degree in Computer Science at Purdue University where she taught Computer Science for eight years. In 1989 she was awarded School of Science Teacher of the Year. While at Purdue, she published two textbooks for beginning Computer Science students.

Anne’s passion for history and computers have merged into a lifelong fascination for genealogy and developing methodologies to discover important clues and stories found in historical documents.

Linda Harms Okazaki

Linda Harms OkazakiLinda Harms Okazaki is a fourth-generation Californian with a background in education. She is a charter member of the Nikkei Genealogical Society, and currently serves as past President of the California Genealogical Society. She has presented at the Japanese American Citizens League National Conference, the National Japanese American Historical Society, the Northwest Genealogy Conference, and Jamboree. Her research interests include California, Upstate New York, England, Australia, Japan, and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Kimberly Powell

Kimberly PowellKimberly T. Powell is a professional genealogist, author, editor, educator, and volunteer. She is past president of the Association of Professional Genealogists and chairs its Professional Development Committee. She is a coordinator and instructor at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, and also teaches at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy.

Kimberly was the genealogy expert for from 2000–2016, and is the author of several books, including The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy, 3rd edition (Adams Media, 2014). She has had articles published in BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? magazine, Family Tree Magazine, and the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly. She is the proud recipient of IGHR’s Walter Lee Sheppard Jr. prize (2010), the Utah Genealogical Associations’ Silver Tray award for genealogical publishing (2012), and a Certificate of Appreciation from the Association of Professional Genealogists (2016) for her service and dedication to the association.

David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA

David E. RencherDavid E. Rencher, AG, CG, FUGA, FIGRS, is employed as the Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch. A professional genealogist since 1977, he is one of the rare few who have earned both credentials: Accredited Genealogist with ICAPGen in Ireland research and Certified Genealogist with the Board for Certification of Genealogists. He is the Irish course coordinator and instructor for the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) in Athens, Georgia. He graduated from Brigham Young University in 1980 with a BA in Family and Local History. He is a past-president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) 1997-2000, a national genealogical society umbrella organization, a past-president of the Utah Genealogical Association (UGA) 1993-1995 and a Fellow of that organization. He is a fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society, London, and is a vice-president of the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU). He is the past Chair of the joint Federation of Genealogical Societies, National Genealogical Society and International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies committee for Record Preservation and Access; serves on the board of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and as a trustee for the Umpstead, Jr. and Elizabeth Jemima Philpott Rencher and the Winslow Farr, Sr. Family Organizations. He is vice-president of the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History and an instructor for the British Institute.

Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL

Judy RussellJudy G. Russell, "The Legal Genealogist," is a genealogist with a law degree. She writes, teaches and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical topics, ranging from using court records in family history to understanding DNA testing. A Colorado native with roots deep in the American south on her mother’s side and entirely in Germany on her father’s side, she is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society and numerous state and regional genealogical societies. She has written for the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and National Genealogical Society Magazine, among other publications.

On the faculty of the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research in Alabama, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh and Boston University’s Center for Professional Education, she is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, from which she holds credentials as a Certified Genealogist and Certified Genealogical Lecturer. Her blog – chosen as one of the American Bar Association’s top 100 in 2013 and 2014 – appears at The Legal Genealogist website (

Stephanie Saylor

Stephanie SaylorStephanie Saylor is a presenter and organizer for the UGA DNA Special Interest Group. Stephanie has revitalized the group and is now recognized as the UGA DNA Special Interest Group Chair. She not only continues to present for the group herself but contacts, organizes, and moderates presentations by leaders in the field of genetic genealogy. Since 2016 Stephanie has given many webinars for the DNA Special Interest Group, presented at the South Davis Family History Fair, the Eastern Idaho Family History Fair, her local Family history center, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, co-taught a Facebook event class, and is the current moderator for other presenters for the UGA DNA Special Interest Group.

Stephanie Saylor became interested in genetic genealogy in 2010 when helping a woman at her local family history library with questions about using DNA to solve her family mysteries. Since then Stephanie has been intrigued and enjoyed learning more about how genetics could be used along with genealogy to find missing ancestry. She has been working as a professional Genetic genealogist since 2016 assisting clients with finding missing ancestors using Y-DNA, mtDNA, xDNA and atDNA research. Stephanie also volunteers as a search angel and helps give free direction to adoptees and their relatives searching for their lost family connections. Prior to starting her career as a genetic genealogist, Stephanie worked as a researcher doing research at the University of California Medical Center’s Mind Institute. She holds a degree in biology with an emphasis in neuroscience.

Pamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA

Pamela Boyer SayrePamela Boyer Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA, is a professional researcher, educator, author, and lecturer. She has developed, coordinated, and taught the Techniques and Technology course at Samford University’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research since 2007. She also co-coordinates and teaches in the Researching in Washington, DC, without Leaving Home and the advanced land course at Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and the advanced land course at Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. She has taught in Boston University’s Professional Certificate Program in Genealogy, and she developed an NGS self-paced Social Security course for family historians.

Pam is former NGS director of education and publications, former board member of NGS and FGS, co-author of Online Roots: How to Discover Your Family's History and Heritage with the Power of the Internet (2003) and Research in Missouri (1999, 2007), former FGS FORUM Digitools columnist, and a former editor of APGQ. She is a popular seminar presenter who has spoken at genealogy conferences and seminars nationwide and on international cruises.

Richard G. Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA

Richard SayreRick Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA, is a long-time researcher and instructor in genealogical topics. He coordinates the Using Maps in Genealogy course at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at Samford University. He also instructs in the Advanced Methodology course, the Techniques and Technology course, the Advanced Military courses, and a variety of other IGHR courses. Rick and his wife Pam coordinate the Advanced Land course offered by the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) and the Advanced Land course at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP).

Rick co-coordinates with Judy Russell, JD, CG, CGL, the Law School for Genealogists at GRIP and the FHL Law Library course at SLIG. He also lectures at national conferences and presents nationwide seminars. His areas of expertise encompass records of the National Archives, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Daughters of the American Revolution, including military records, land records, using maps in genealogy, urban research, and government documents. Rick is experienced in the localities of western Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Craig Roberts Scott, MA, CG, FUGA

Craig Scott Craig Roberts Scott, MA, CG, FUGA is the President and CEO of Heritage Books, Inc., a genealogical publishing firm with over 5,300 titles in print. A professional genealogical and historical researcher for more than thirty years, he specializes in the records of the National Archives, especially those that relate to the military. He is the former Coordinator of the Military tracks at IGHR, SLIG and GRIP.

Gerald H "Jerry" Smith, CG

Gerald Smith Gerald H. “Jerry” Smith, CG, is a full-time professional Certified Genealogist specializing in Pennsylvania research. He has been a course coordinator for IGHR (Land Platting) and a faculty member for other IGHR, SLIG and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Researching Family in Pennsylvania. He is the author of a number of books and journal articles. He researches extensively on projects requiring in-depth knowledge of Proprietor and Commonwealth land records, mapping, and land placement. Regular research venues include the Pennsylvania Archives, State Library of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State Law Library, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, military repositories (including David Library of the American Revolution and US Army Military History Institute), National Archives, religious & denominational repositories, county courthouses, and county and local historical and genealogical societies. Southern Pennsylvania border county research includes frequent on-site research at repositories in Annapolis, Baltimore, Maryland counties, West Virginia, and Virginia.

Marian L. Smith (USCIS)

Marian L. Smith Marian L. Smith recently retired after heading the History Program within the Records Division of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Department of Homeland Security, in Washington, DC. She is an expert on that agency's historical records and research. Her current work focuses on digitization and data integrity in relation to USCIS' old records, documenting old record location and retrieval processes, and mentoring junior staff. She has lectured nationally on immigration, naturalization, and related topics. She has previously taught courses in the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.

Karen Stanbary, MA, LCSW, CG

Karen Stanbary Karen Stanbary, CG, specializes in DNA analysis, Midwestern, Chicago, and Mexican/Puerto Rican research as well as complex problem-solving. She holds a Master of Clinical Social Work from the University of Chicago. A regular instructor in Chicago’s Newberry Library Adult Education program and at other local and national venues, Karen lectures on topics including Genetic Genealogy, Advanced Genetic Genealogy and the Genealogical Proof Standard.

She is a coordinator and faculty member at three genealogical institutes—GRIP, IGHR, and SLIG. Her ground-breaking, complex evidence case study incorporating traditional documentary research and autosomal DNA analysis in the June 2016 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly and was awarded the NGSQ Award for Excellence.

She holds the credential Certified Genealogist from the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). She serves the Board for Certification of Genealogists as a Trustee and chairs the standing Genetic Genealogy committee and serves on the Ad Hoc Committee for Genetic Genealogy Standards.

Michael L. Strauss, AG

Michael L. Strauss, AGMichael L. Strauss, AG, is a professional Accredited Genealogist and a nationally recognized genealogical speaker. He has been employed as a forensic genealogist for 25 years and has a BA in history and is a United States Coast Guard veteran. Michael is also a qualified expert witness in the courts in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and an approved genealogist with the United States Army to locate DNA qualified persons MIA from Korea, Vietnam, and World War II. Strauss has been a faculty member of IGHR, SLIG, and GRIP and has been involved in Civil War reenacting for more than 25 years and also reenacts the Mormon Battalion with the Utah Living History Association.

Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA

Paula Stuart-Warren Paula Stuart-Warren, CG, FMGS, FUGA is an internationally recognized genealogical educator, researcher and consultant focusing on unusual resources, manuscripts, methodology, and analyzing records. Paula is well-known for her interaction with students and for going the extra mile to assist them. She is a long-time course coordinator and instructor for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. She is also involved with the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh and has been an instructor for Ancestry Academy and Family Tree University. Her lecturing experience includes the National Genealogical Society and Federation of Genealogical Societies conferences, seminars in many states and Canada, and webinars that reach across the globe. She is also skilled in Native American research.

She has served several organizations: the Board of Directors of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, as an officer of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), the board of the Minnesota Genealogical Society, and as past President of the Northland Chapter of the APG. She is descended from eight ancestral countries and has researched her family connections across the US and Canada, including the Southern lines of her father-in-law. She has memberships in many genealogical and historical societies. Her research has taken her onsite to many libraries, archives, courthouses, and historical societies. She has written for multiple genealogical publications and has her own educational website and blog Genealogy by Paula.

D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS

D. Joshua TaylorD. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS, is a nationally known and recognized genealogical author, lecturer, and researcher and a frequent speaker at family history events across the globe. Passionate about family history, Joshua is the President of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society (NYG&B). He is also the immediate past president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS). He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including RootsTech’s Distinguished Presenter Award, the Federation of Genealogical Societies Award of Merit, and the Rubincam Youth Award from the National Genealogical Society. In 2017, Joshua was named as one of Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers.

The former Director of Education and Programs at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Joshua is the author of numerous articles in American Ancestors, UGA Crossroads, FGS Forum, Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, New England Ancestors, and other publications. In 2013 he authored “The Keane and Sheahan Families of Bridgeport, Connecticut,” a study of a family’s immigration and life in New England after the Irish famine. He is also the coordinator for courses at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh.

He holds an MLS (Archival Management) and an MA (History) from Simmons College and has been a featured genealogist on Who Do You Think You Are? with Sarah Jessica Parker, Kelly Clarkson, Ashley Judd, Reba McEntire, and Rob Lowe. At the present time Joshua can be seen taking America through their past as a host on the popular PBS series Genealogy Roadshow.

Rich Venezia

Rich Venezia Rich Venezia is a New Jersey native who now calls Pittsburgh home, with roots in Italy, Ireland, England, Wales, and Prussia. He founded Rich Roots Genealogy in 2013. He was a member of the research team of Genealogy Roadshow (PBS) for two seasons and also consulted on Follow Your Past (Travel Channel). Rich specializes in 20th-century immigrant ancestry and immigration records. His main areas of focus include Italian, Irish, Pittsburgh, and New Jersey/New York City research. He also assists clients with dual citizenship applications for Ireland and Italy. Venezia holds a BA in Theatre from Point Park University. He received his Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in 2015, and is the President of North Hills Genealogists in Pittsburgh. He lectures nationally, and has recently lectured at the FGS, NGS, OGS, and RootsTech 2017 conferences. He has been featured as IESAbroad’s Alum of the Month, in Ciao Pittsburgh, and on The Genealogy Guys podcast. His writings have been featured in Irish Lives Remembered, FindMyPast’s blog, and MyCanvas’ blog. He spoke about "How to Grow Empathy From Uncovering Your Roots" at TEDx Pittsburgh 2017.

Jane E. Wilcox

Jane E. WilcoxJane E. Wilcox serves on the New York State Archives Advisory Committee and the NY Genealogical and Biographical Society’s New York Family History Advisory Committee. A former editorial board member of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Record, Jane speaks at national genealogy conferences and institutes (SLIG and GRIP), as well as presenting webinars for national genealogy companies and speaking at the Women's Rights National Historical Park (US National Park Service) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in New York City. With her company, Forget-Me-Not Ancestry, in Albany, NY, Jane specializes in colonial and early national New York and area research. She hosted The Forget-Me-Not Hour podcast for 6+ years, with archives of the shows at She received her master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University and her bachelor’s degree in history and English literature from the University of Michigan, in addition to her teacher’s certification from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Ari Wilkins

Ari WilkinsAri Wilkins is a genealogist and library associate at Dallas Public Library, where she provides genealogy programming and education. She worked with the esteemed genealogist, Dr. James Rose on his project, “Generations: The WPA Ex-Slave Narrative Database.”

Ms. Wilkins has spoken nationally at the National Genealogical Society, Federation of Genealogical Societies, RootsTech, Texas State Genealogical Society, Ohio Genealogical Society, the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research, American Library Association, and a multitude of local societies.

Ari has concentrated her interests in North Carolina and Louisiana research and specializes in African American genealogy and research.

Paul Woodbury, MEd

Paul Woodbury Paul Woodbury is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University where he studied Genetics and Family History. Paul fell in love with genealogy when he was eight years old. Since he was sixteen he knew he wanted to be a genetic genealogist, so he is particularly pleased to work in the field full-time. He currently works as a senior researcher and DNA specialist for Legacy Tree Genealogists. He is also actively pursuing a graduate degree in Instructional Design and Educational Technology. In addition to genetic genealogy, Paul specializes in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Scandinavian research and regularly presents on research topics related to these fields.

Course TAs

Gretchen Jorgensen

Gretchen JorgensenGretchen Jorgensen is a professional genealogist with Legacy Tree Genealogists, specializing in DNA analysis for unknown parentage, as well as use of DNA to solve genealogical brick walls. She holds a B.S. in Applied Mathematics and Statistics from Colorado State University. After graduation, she spent more than a decade as a Software Engineer for a Fortune 100 company, followed by 17 years as a stay-at-home mom. Past genealogy courses include the SLIG DNA Boot Camp, APG Professional Management Conference, and the i4GG International Genetic Genealogy Conference.

Gretchen has spent thousands of hours researching her own family, with a focus on US and Danish records. A query from an adopted 3rd cousin DNA match had the unexpected side effect of developing a passion for solving unknown parentage cases. She participates in a local DNA Special Interest Group, and is an administrator for the DNA Detectives Facebook group.

Paula Williams

Paula WilliamsPaula has been researching for more than a decade in primarily southern US states, and has been using DNA to solve problems for the last 7 years. She's studied at IGHR (Swing Through the South, Writing & Publishing for Genealogists); SLIG (Advanced Genealogical Methods and Advanced DNA Analysis Techniques for Genealogical Research, Virginia from the Colonial Period to the Civil War, and A Practical Approach: Establishing Genealogical Proof with DNA); GRIP (Practical Genetic Genealogy, Fundamentals of Forensic Genealogy for the 21st Century, From Confusion to Conclusion: How to Write Proof Arguments, and Chromosome Mapping); and the Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed). In addition, she consults for the Genealogical Research Institute of Virginia's (GRIVA) DNA Special Interest Group, and serves as an administrator for Blaine Bettinger's "Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques" group on Facebook, helping to answer people's questions about DNA testing and analysis tools.