RootsTech 2019 Keynote Speakers
Thursday, February 28 | 11:00 A.M. | Main Stage
Nobody knows family quite like Emmy award–winning actress Patricia Heaton. Known for her humorous roles as a typical American housewife in big hit television series like Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle, Patricia has won many prestigious awards and the hearts of television viewers worldwide.
Behind the scenes of her career as an actress—and adding some serious fuel for her decades of success—is the fact that she really is a wife and the mother of 4 sons. Patricia has a deep love and appreciation for family, making her a perfect fit for the RootsTech audience.
Saturday, March 2 | 11:00 A.M. | Main Stage
Almost everyone in Hawaii has strummed a ukulele at one time or another. But at the age of 14, Jake Shimabukuro realized that he was doing something a little different with the 4-stringed instrument—OK, a lot different. Shimabukuro’s wholly unique approach to the ukulele started early. As a youngster growing up in Honolulu, Hawaii, Shimabukuro started playing the instrument after learning the basics from his mother, and then developing his craft.
Shimabukuro’s records have topped the Billboard World Music Charts on numerous occasions, and as a live performer, he has become one of the hottest tickets around. He’s played with renowned orchestras and at prestigious venues such as the Hollywood Bowl, the Lincoln Center, and the Sydney Opera House.
Shimabukuro is also a proud father of two boys. While balancing his career with family, he also remains firmly rooted in his commitment to community, frequently performing at schools in Hawaii and overseas, urging youngsters to find their passion and live drug-free.
Friday, March 1 | 11:00 A.M. | Main Stage
Saroo Brierley lost contact with his family as a 5-year-old boy at a train station in India. He was later adopted and raised by an Australian family. But he was unable, and unwilling, to forget the land of his childhood.
Determined to rediscover his past, Saroo pored over Google Earth and eventually managed to recognize his home town—and track down his birth mother.
Their reunion in 2012 made headlines across the world, and his full story is recounted in his number 1 international bestselling autobiography, A Long Way Home.
The film Lion, based on his autobiography, was released in November 2016 and nominated for 4 Golden Globe and 6 Academy Awards.
Wednesday, February 27 | 4:30 P.M. | Main Stage
Steve Rockwood is president and chief executive officer of FamilySearch International. Rockwood, who most recently served as director of the international division at FamilySearch, became president and CEO on October 1, 2015.
Prior to joining FamilySearch, Rockwood specialized in creating unique service offerings for worldwide customers of such brands as MasterCard International, AT&T, Disney, Office Depot, and Citibank among others. He was also a successful entrepreneur building 2 companies from the ground up that were later acquired by larger companies.
As one of the most sought after genetic genealogists, Angie Bush combines years of experience in biotech with a passion for genealogical research and a unique ability to solve seemingly impossible cases. Angie is currently NGS Region 1 Director and chair of its Genetic Genealogy Committee. Behind her passion for research lies the belief that genealogy is an opportunity to connect with people from around the world. Angie is a Utah native and lives in Sandy, with her husband and two descendants.
Blaine Bettinger, Ph.D., J.D., is a professional genealogist specializing in DNA evidence, and founder of DNA Central (www.DNA-Central.com), a membership portal for DNA education. He is the author of The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy, as well as Genetic Genealogy in Practice (with Debbie Parker Wayne). His genealogy journey began in 1988, and he added DNA to that journey in 2003.
Frustrated with your genealogy research? Diahan is the teacher you need. Her 18 years of experience in genetic genealogy shows as after just one class you will find yourself believing that you can understand this science, and likely will even be excited to go home and try it out. Diahan lectures internationally, owns Your DNA Guide, and writes for Genealogy Gems and Family Tree Magazine, among others. She has a passion for this work, a love for people, and the best husband ever.
KENYATTA A Professional Genealogist, Lecturer, Writer, Attorney and Television Personality, KENYATTA illustrious Genealogy career spans over 20 years of data collection, in-depth genealogical research and historical content. KENYATTA’s vast knowledge in the areas of African American Genealogy, Slave Ancestral Research and DNA has made her an invaluable “go to” source around the world. KENYATTA's book The Family Tree Toolkit is a great resource for anyone interested in family history.
Associate Librarian | University of South Florida
Drew Smith is a USF Tampa Library Associate Librarian, and the 2016 winner of the Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship, presented by the National Genealogical Society. He has served on the boards of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the Association of Professional Genealogists, and the Florida State Genealogical Society. Drew hosts the Genealogy Connection podcast and The Genealogy Guys Podcast. His books include Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques and Organize Your Genealogy.
Senior Archivist | Archives of Michigan
A Senior Archivist at the Archives of Michigan, where he specializes in family history and Michigan research, Kris has worked in the genealogical community for nearly 20 years. He holds a Master of Library and Information Science from Wayne State University, a Master of Arts in History from Western Michigan University, is a former Vice-President of Membership for the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and a former President of the Mid-Michigan Genealogical Society.
Assistant Manager | The Genealogy Center, Allen County Public Library
Melissa Tennant, MLS is the Assistant Manager of Public Services of The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she co-coordinates programs and seminars, supervises preservation and digital projects, and administers the GenealogyCenter.org website. She previously managed the History & Genealogy Collection at the Hillsborough County Public Library in FL. She is a former Director and former VP of Administration of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.
Director | Sticks Research Agency
Nick Barratt is an author, broadcaster and historian best known for his work on BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are. He is an honorary associate professor of public history at the University of Nottingham, Director of the University of London’s Senate House Library, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a teaching fellow at the University of Dundee. He is President of the Federation of Family History Societies in the UK, and sits on the board of the Community Archives and Heritage Group.
Accredited Genealogist® |
Jennifer Hansen graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Family History and Genealogy. In 1999 she received her genealogy Accreditation in Danish research. She held a position as an acquisitions genealogist for Ancestry.com. She currently works as a professional researcher and she especially enjoys teaching genealogy.
Creative Director | Pictures and Stories
Alison Taylor is Creative Director at Pictures and Stories, Inc. which since 1996 has produced custom biographies and family history books/videos for clients around the world. An award-winning artist, writer, and book designer, Alison also authors a blog at picturesandstories.com and writes articles for the Deseret News. Alison and her husband Tom are in-demand speakers at family history events around the country. They are authors of the book “How to Save Your Life, One Chapter at a Time.”
The Genealogy Reporter
Amie Bowser Tennant has been a genealogy researcher in the U.S. for nearly 20 years. She shares her knowledge as a national speaker and international writer. Amie's family history articles can be found at the FamilySearch Blog, NGS Magazine, Ohio Genealogical Society Quarterly, her personal blog, The Genealogy Reporter, and other top publications in the field. Amie's expertise is in the Midwest and Southern Regions of the United States.
FHF Group LLC
Andy has done family history research for 30 years. He has taught about DNA, writing, beginning genealogy, and various tools to incorporate in your hobby and enjoys making complex topics simple for beginners. He helps run the Family History Fanatics YouTube channel which is one of the most popular genealogy channels. He's the author of several books including DNA Q&A and A Recipe for Writing Family History. Andy graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Becky Villareal, a retired teacher and family genealogist, has published multiple children's and YA books centering on the concept of genealogical research. Her Genealogy for Children program, based on the need for younger members to become involved in family history research, shares methods of engagement based on her experience as an educator. This program, along with her books, has been presented at numerous Genealogical Societies, libraries, and schools throughout the United States.
Bob is a high technology marketing guy with many years of experience helping organizations successfully bring new products to market. His interest in researching his family roots began many (many!) years ago when his grandparents would take him from home (Wyoming) to visit his numerous relatives in Salt Lake and its suburbs. Since then, he’s avidly followed the technological progress of genealogical research tools, including the new collaboration tools available at familysearch.org.
Editor, Head of Reference Services | Kentucky Historical Society
Cheri Daniels, MSLS, is the Head of Reference Services for the Martin F. Schmidt Research Library and Editor of Kentucky Ancestors Online at the Kentucky Historical Society. With over 20+ years in the library and genealogy fields, and as an advocate for information literacy, she enjoys sharing tips and advice through her blog at GenealogyLiteracy.com. She is also a contributing author to the new book: Genealogy and the Librarian (2018, McFarland).
Dana Leeds, who has been doing traditional genealogy for more than twenty years, ordered her first DNA test six years ago. In 2018 she completed the Advanced Genetic Genealogy course at GRIP taught by CeCe Moore and Blaine Bettinger. While working with an adoptee, she developed a quick and easy way to sort unknown matches into parent and grandparent groupings which is known as DNA Color Clustering (aka The Leeds Method).
Chief Genealogist | New England Historic Genealogical Society
David Allen Lambert is the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, Mass. (www.AmericanAncestors.org) having served on the staff since 1993. David is an internationally recognized speaker and author on genealogical, military history and New England topics. He has also written three editions A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries (NEHGS, 2018). He authored the NGS Research in the States Series for Massachusetts. David is the State Historian of the Mass. SAR.
Family History Fanatics
Devon Noel Lee has published over 60 books, including a memoir and four family history how-to books, including the best selling A Recipe for Writing Family History. With over 20 years experience in genealogy, she shares research and memory keeping tips weekly through the Family History Fanatics YouTube channel and website blog posts. She’s a Texas Aggie grad with degrees in Marketing and Journalism. Additionally, Devon is a home educator of five and will soon be an Accredited Genealogist.
Owner | MosaicRPM
A professional genealogist since 2004. Has researched for the popular TV show Who Do You Think You Are? and appeared on the Bryan Cranston episode. Has authored almost 300 articles for such publications as Internet Genealogy and Your Genealogy Today. Editor of the North Carolina Genealogical Society journal. Has delivered webinars and spoken nationally about the availability and richness of southern records, genealogical research techniques and tips, under-utilized resource collections, etc.
Elissa Scalise Powell
Powell Genealogical Services
Elissa Scalise Powell, CG, CGL, is co-director of the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), past-president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, an instructor for SLIG and for the Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research (VIGR), and coordinator of IGHR “Professional Genealogy” course. She instructed and created part of Boston University’s Genealogical Research Certificate course. She won the 2017 Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Achievement Award.
Elizabeth O’Neal is a genealogist, writer, and educator who has been researching her own family history for more than 30 years. Her passion is using technology, social media, photography, and video to enrich the experience of family history sharing and story-telling. You can find Elizabeth’s genealogy and technology tips on her YouTube channel as well as on her blog, My Descendant’s Ancestors (mydescendantsancestors.com).
Janice M. Sellers is a professional genealogist specializing in Jewish, black, dual citizenship, and newspaper research. She edits two genealogy publications and serves on the board of San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society. She is a member of Association of Professional Genealogists, Genealogical Speakers Guild, Council for the Advancement of Professional Genealogy, Jewish Genealogical Society of Oregon, and California Genealogical Society. Her Web site is ancestraldiscoveries.com.
Head of Digital Library Services | University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott Library
Jeremy Myntti is Head of Digital Library Services at the University of Utah's J. Willard Marriott Library. He works closely with the library’s special collections to digitize, describe, preserve, and provide access to content through the library’s website, Mountain West Digital Library, and Digital Public Library of America. He also collaborates with other institutions around Utah to make their resources available through the Marriott Library’s digital library and Utah Digital Newspapers.
BYU Genealogy BA, PGDip in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies from the University of Strathclyde 2017/18. Utah South Area Family History Training Center, FamilySearch & Outreach Support, FamilySearch Center staff member, BYU FHL Sunday Classes, T&FH Consultant 10+ years. Continuing ed. with fairs/conferences, Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, study & research. Loves living & deceased family, presenting at fairs & conferences, teaching, guiding, helping & esp. tutoring one-on-one.
Jonny Perl is a genealogist, DNA enthusiast and web developer based in London, UK. He is the creator and founder of dnapainter.com, an award-winning web application for chromosome mapping. Jonny has also collaborated with leading genetic genealogists to create other popular tools that help people around the world interpret the results of their autosomal DNA tests. Born in Belfast, Jonny has family roots in Ireland, England and Germany.
Joe Price is a professor of economics at Brigham Young University and is the Director of the BYU Record Linking Lab (rll.byu.edu). He has been working to combine family history and machine learning to create automated tools to link historical records and extract data from handwritten and printed text. His lab employs over 50 students and has ongoing collaborations with academics at universities around the country. He loves finding ways to help connect people to records in meaningful ways.
Joy Neighbors is a national cemetery speaker, author, playwright, blogger and avowed "Tombstone Tourist." Her book “The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide” published last autumn. She also writes A Grave Interest, a blog about cemetery history and culture. http://www.agraveinterest.blogspot.com. When Joy is not wandering cemeteries, she writes activism plays about forgotten movers and shakers from our country's past. She's now writing a full-length play about civil rights activist Alberta Jones.
Personal, Corporate and Family Historian | Morganstory
Karen Briggs Morgan was raised by great tradition-bearers with a passion for family lore. She has been a professional personal, corporate and family historian collecting stories for over 20 years. She earned a B.S. in American Studies/Oral History from Utah State University, and a M.Ed. from Western Governors where she studied the effect family stories had on high school history students. She and husband, Bill, live in American Fork, UT, and are the proud parents of one daughter, Lytal Ouska.
North American Representative | ArkivDigital
Kathy Meade is the North American representative for ArkivDigital AD AB, a company that offers online access to newly photographed color images of the Swedish church books and other historical records. She has been working with Swedish genealogy for more than fifteen years and has given many presentations on Swedish genealogy throughout the United States. Ms. Meade serves on the advisory board for the Swedish American Genealogy Center at the Swedish American Museum in Chicago.
I was born and raised in Peru and have been involved with genealogical research for the past 28 years. Once I started I could not stop! I have extensively researched Catholic church records as well as civil registration records with particular interest in South America. I have taken many genealogy courses and workshops and have been teaching them as well. I am thrilled to return as a speaker at RootsTech.
Kelli Shipp and Jamie Wade
Kelli is a 4th generation Arizona native and her family and friends technical support hotline. She loves finding different technologies that ACTUALLY deliver on the promise to save time while being more productive. Now retired, Kelli spent her professional years working in Global Product Marketing bringing new medical devices to market. She loves life, good books, quiet time, and enjoys spending time with her family who all live close by. Her life motto is “Have passport. Will travel.”
Kelsee Jackson Walker completed family history internships in Austria, England and in the Family History Library (international floor) before receiving a bachelor’s degree in family history and genealogy from Brigham Young University. She worked for FamilySearch in 2016 and has since moved to Kansas, where she works as a contractor.
Lianne began researching genealogy as a youth at graveyards, using microfilm, and researching her paternal line to the first white landowner of Canada. She taught genealogy at the Ogden Institute. She has several published articles in BYU Magazine Quarterly and FamilySearch. She has taught computer courses since 1982. She has spoken in multiple locations in Canada and the United States. Her topics have included Google Drive, Evernote, Homesteads, Social Media, preserving and sharing genealogy.
Author, Instructor, Lecturer |
Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A., is a freelance writer, instructor, and internationally recognized lecturer specializing in Eastern European research and nonfiction writing. She is the author of eleven books and works as an online educator and writing coach.
Genealogy Researcher, Writer & Educator | Are You My Cousin? [Blog]
Lisa Lisson is the writer, educator and genealogy researcher behind the Are You My Cousin? Website. Specializing in southern genealogy research and finding those elusive female ancestors.
Training Coordinator | FamilySearch
FamilySearch Specialty Training Coordinator; Family History Center Instructor and Worker; Stake Temple and Family History Consultant; Family History Instructor; former Instructor and Assistant Director of Curriculum and Technology at the Utah South Area Family History Training Center
Brussels | Histoires de Familles
Marie Cappart is a anglo-belgian family historian, based in Brussels, Belgium. She’s a researcher as well as an author, her guide to research Belgian ancestors is a best selling book in Belgium, coach and lecturer on Family History. A media consultant and columnist for the Revue Française de Généalogie, Marie also works for history and family history television programmes. She’s also a proud RootsTech ambassador.Marie speaks english, french and dutch.
Melanie McComb is a genealogy blogger (The Shamrock Genealogist) and international speaker. She has been researching her family history for over 16 years. Melanie is the Social Media Coordinator for the NextGen Genealogy Network, a genealogy non-profit. Melanie is also an on-call genealogist at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, MA.
Miles has been active in genealogy for about 20 years. His expertise focuses on new technologies, internet research and FamilySearch. He is a Family History Consultant and current Director of the Vero Beach Florida Family History Center. He has 10 years experience speaking at genealogy conferences and other events. Miles has been a beta tester for AncestralQuest, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, BillionGraves, BYU Tech Labs and others. He is also a Regional Trainer for The Family History Guide.
Regional Licensing & Outreach Manager | Findmypast
Myko Clelland is UK based genealogist & regional licensing manager for Findmypast, regularly discussing family history on television, radio, online & in print. He holds a Masters degree in genealogy (distinction) and is a qualified adult education teacher with over 200 worldwide speaking appearances under his belt, from Oxford University to The National Archives (UK), National Library of Wales, Who Do You Think You Are? Live & many regional archives & local family history groups.
Senior Writer/Editor | Evalogue.Life
Rachel Trotter is a senior writer and editor at Evalogue.Life – Tell Your Story. She tells people's stories and shares hers to encourage others. She loves family storytelling. A graduate of Weber State University, she has had articles featured on LDSLiving.com and Mormon.org. She has presented at family history conferences including RootsTech and the So. California Genealogy Jamboree. She and her husband Mat have six children, ranging from 23 to 7 years and live on the East Bench in Ogden, Utah.
Software Architect | Powell Genealogical Services
Reed Powell has 40+ years computer engineering experience and 30+ years of genealogy research. Professionally he engineers database applications. He lectures on various aspects of applying technology to genealogy research, at both regional and national conferences, including the very first RootsTech in 2011. Reed is the webmaster and treasurer for his local genealogy society and is active in the activities of the Three Rivers Alliance of Genealogy Groups.
Rhonda Lauritzen is a professional biographer and author on the art of family storytelling. Before founding Evalogue.Life, she served as a College Vice President but it was working in the family business that inspired her first book. She now has multiple published books, years of presentation experience and regularly teaches.
Richard Hill was the first known case of an adoptee using genetic genealogy DNA tests to identify his birth family. He is the author of two books: "Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA" is an award-winning personal memoir that follows his decades-long search for birth parents. Hill's Kindle Short Book, "Guide to DNA Testing," gives readers just enough information to choose the right DNA tests for their purposes. He began his website, DNA-Testing-Adviser.com, in 2008.
Ron Tanner is a group product manager for the Family History Department leading a team with responsibilities for Family Tree, Search, Hinting, Memories, Mobile, Temple, and other companion products. Ron has been at FamilySearch for 10 years and presents a facebook live presentation twice a month to answer any FamilySearch questions. You can attend on his facebook page Family History Ron or review previous events on his familyhistoryron youtube channel.
Ruth Lapioli Merriman recently retired after nearly 40 years at FamilySearch, specializing in Italian records and research. She is an emeritus accredited Italian Genealogist with ICAPGen and continues to participate in numerous Italian research Facebook pages, offering translations and research advice. She is passionate about Italian family history and loves to help others in their efforts to discover their ancestors.
Shannon Combs-Bennett is an award winning author and lecturer based out of Northern Virginia and presents on a wide range of subjects from DNA to methodology. Currently, she is working toward her MSc in Genealogical, Heraldic and Paleographic Studies from the University of Strathclyde.
What happens when a “tech guy” with a love for history gets laid off during The Great Recession of 2008? You get Thomas MacEntee, a genealogy professional based in the United States who is also a blogger, educator, author, social media connector, online community builder and more. Currently Thomas shares many of his cheat sheets, tools, articles and videos for free at Abundant Genealogy and also runs the popular Genealogy Bargains and DNA Bargains websites!
Trina Boice is a best-selling author of 23 books and teaches online for BYU-Idaho. Her twin sister, Tracey Long, is a nurse educator. Their sister, Tera Duncan, teaches at BYU in Provo. Trina and Tracey co-wrote the book “Climbing Family Trees: Whispers in the Leaves.”
Professional Genealogist |
Valerie Elkins, is a professional genealogist, international speaker and writer. She is on the board of directors for the Association of Professional Genealogists and is an ambassador for Rootstech. She got hooked on genealogy at the age of 10, and has never stopped. Valerie is passionate about helping others find their ancestors, their stories and sharing them in meaningful ways. Valerie blogs about all things family history at FamilyCherished.com. Find more about her at ValerieElkins.com
Victoria Robinson is an experienced genealogist who, while growing up in Utah, started tracing her family history. After graduating Georgetown University, she continued to be curious of mind and passionate about genealogy. Combining these traits, she has been volunteering 26 years at the Annandale (VA) Family History Center, where she assists patrons with their research. She has presented at various local and national genealogy/history conferences during the past 19 years.
Werner Vols a self-made man, learned genealogy for almost four decades. Born and living in Antwerp the port where so many European settlers passed to emigrate to the promised land. Started with genealogy 37 years ago with expertise’s is searching the Belgium State Archives, translation of acts from Flemish, French, Latin into English. Is at a point where he would gladly pass on information on how to start your own family tree. Always a helping hand for colleagues that start with genealogy.