RootsTech 2018 Speakers
February 28—Steve Rockwood
Stephen T. Rockwood is president and chief executive officer of FamilySearch International (www.FamilySearch.org). 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 two companies from the ground up that were later acquired by larger companies
March 1—Brandon Stanton
Brandon Stanton studied at the University of Georgia and worked as a bond trader in Chicago before starting “Humans of New York”—a photography and storytelling blog—in the Summer of 2010. Over the course of seven years, HONY has built a devoted following of over 20 million fans on several social media platforms. He has appeared on Ellen, Good Morning America, Nightline, MSNBC, CNN, has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Mashable, and dozens of other media venues. He has also been named a ‘person of the week’ on the ABC Evening News with Diane Sawyer, and a Time Magazine “30 Under 30 Who are Changing the World,” and has photographed President Obama in the Oval Office. He has taken his work to some of the world's most remote and troubled regions, and has used the storytelling power of his site to raise money for several life-changing altruistic purposes. He is the author of two #1 New York Times Bestsellers, HUMANS OF NEW YORK (2013) and HUMANS OF NEW YORK: STORIES (2015) and the Children’s book bestseller LITTLE HUMANS (2014).
March 2—Scott Hamilton
Scott Hamilton is the living example that good guys CAN finish first! He is an Olympic champion, cancer survivor, television broadcaster, motivational speaker, author, husband/father, and eternal optimist! During his figure skating career, Hamilton’s list of achievements include his Olympic gold medal, over 70 titles, awards, and honors. In 1990, Hamilton was inducted into the United States Olympic Hall of Fame, and in that same year he became a member of the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Following his mother’s passing from and his own survival of cancer, Hamilton launched the Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation (Cancer Alliance for Research, Education and Survivorship) in 2014, with a mission to improve cancer patient survivorship by supporting world class cancer research and the highest quality patient treatment and care. The same year, he founded the Scott Hamilton Skating Academy, in partnership with the NHL’s Nashville Predators, at Ford Ice Center in Antioch, TN, to offer students programs to help them fall in love with ice skating.
March 3—Henry Louis Gates, Jr
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University. Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, Professor Gates has authored or co-authored twenty-two books and created eighteen documentary films, including Wonders of the African World, African American Lives, Faces of America, Black in Latin America, Black America since MLK: And Still I Rise, Africa’s Great Civilizations, and Finding Your Roots, his groundbreaking genealogy series now in its fourth season on PBS. His six-part PBS documentary series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (2013), which he wrote, executive produced, and hosted, earned the Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Program—Long Form, as well as the Peabody Award, Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, and NAACP Image Award.
March 3—Natalia Lafourcade
Natalia Lafourcade is a Mexican pop-rock singer and songwriter who, since her debut in 2003, has been one of the most successful singers in the pop rock scene in Latin America. Natalia was born in Mexico City, Mexico, to musician parents. Her father is the Chilean musician Gastón Lafourcade, and her uncle is writer Enrique Lafourcade. She grew up in Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico, where she studied music with her mother, María del Carmen Silva Contreras. In 2003, she was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the Best New Artist category for her debut album. Natalia has captured hearts all over Mexico and in countries across the world—Peru, Chile, Guatemala, Canada, Japan, the United States, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Denmark. Throughout her career, Natalia has received numerous honors and awards, including Grammy Awards and MTV Latino awards. Her undeniable talent and success are recognized from the Americas to Europe to Asia. She is an artist with charisma, a creator of contemporary music with immense appeal, and loyal to her musical heritage. Her audiences in all corners of the globe appreciate the simplicity and beauty of her interpretation. She is without a doubt an outstanding representative of the music of Mexico.
Judy G. Russell
The Legal Genealogist Judy G. Russell is a genealogist with a law degree who writes and lectures on topics ranging from using court records in family history to understanding DNA testing. On the faculty of IGHR, SLIG, GRIP, MAAGI, and Gen-Fed, 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 award-winning blog is at http://www.legalgenealogist.com.
Founder and CEO | Center for Black Genealogy
Tony Burroughs is founder and CEO of The Center for Black Genealogy. He is an internationally known genealogist who taught genealogy at Chicago State University for fifteen years.
Family History Specialist | The National Archives (UK)
A Scot in exile in England since childhood, was a freelance genealogical researcher and writer for several years before joining The National Archives (UK), and holds the post of Family History Specialist there. Regular speaker at family history events, mainly in the UK, US, and Canada, blogger, and presenter of podcasts and webinars. Co-author of ‘Birth, Marriage and Death Records’, author/reviser of many online research guides. Loves technology, but only occasionally understands how it works.
Global Coordinator | World War II Research and Writing Center
Jennifer Holik is an author, researcher, educator, and holistic healer dedicated to uncovering WWI, WWII, and Korean War history by piecing together stories of soldiers’ lives. She has a rare talent for locating information even if the records burned. Jennifer portrays the human side of warfare in a poignant, heartfelt, original way, of what it was really like to have a son, brother, best friend or spouse go off to fight and risk making the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.
Rebecca Whitman Koford, CG
Rebecca Whitman Koford holds a Certified Genealogist® credential, emphasizing in Maryland. Rebecca has been taken clients and lectured since 2004 for local groups, the Maryland State Archives, NGS Conference, IGHR, and webinars for Legacy and APG. She is a board member of the Maryland Genealogical Society. She has published articles in the NGS Magazine, Maryland Genealogical Society Journal, and APG Magazine. A graduate of the ProGen Study Group; she was appointed ProGen Administrator in 2015.
Nicka Smith is a professional photographer, speaker, host, and documentarian with more than 19 years of experience as a genealogist. She has extensive experience in African ancestored genealogy, reverse genealogy, and family reunion planning and execution. She is also an expert in genealogical research in the Northeastern Louisiana area, sharing genealogy with youth, documenting the ancestral journey, and employing the use of new technology in genealogy and family history research.
Richard G Sayre
Rick Sayre’s areas of expertise include the records of the National Archives, land research, Irish research, land records, government documents, military records and urban research.
Maureen Taylor is known as the Photo Detective for finding family history in photo mysteries. She's been a featured speaker at genealogical conferences since 1995.
Dallas Public Library
Ari Wilkins is a genealogist, lecturer, and staff member of Dallas Public Library. She has lectured nationally at Federation of Genealogical Societies, Samford's Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research, and Alabama State University Genealogical Colloquium. Ms. Wilkins also consults for the Afrigeneas website and Proquest’s African American Heritage database. She specializes in African American genealogy research.
Hank R. Smith grew up in St. George, Utah. He received a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Dixie State University (2002), his MBA (2005) from Utah State University, and his Ph.D in Educational Leadership (2014) from Brigham Young University. His studies focused on the development of high trust educational organizations and their impact on student achievement. Prior to joining the religion faculty at BYU, he worked for fourteen years with Seminaries and Institutes of Religion as an instructor. He also enjoys consulting work with school districts and corporations centered on creating a high trust culture. He has addressed audiences in almost every state through seminars and keynote speaking engagements. His outside interests include marathons, history books, and hiking with his family. He and his incredible wife, Sara, are the parents of five children and reside in Mapleton, Utah.
12-year-old Kenya Clark was born a singer. She is a member of the "One Voice Children’s Choir" and a band singer with the “Caleb Chapman's Sound House. Kenya has been interviewed for casting and contract opportunities with NBC and "Universal Music Group.” Kenya toured Japan and France with her choir this year. She has performed the "National anthem for the “Miss Utah Pageant”, the “Utah Jazz” and the “U of U” basketball games. Kenya's “Moana” video cover won the "Best Music video" by the 2017 "Utah Music Awards.” Besides singing, Kenya works hard selling “fundraiser pizza cards" on the weekends to finance her musical projects and voice lessons.
Alex Melecio has a voice that blends the strength and masculinity of the classic Mexican Charro with the soft sweetness of a pop balladeer, and he uses it to blend tradition with the unexpected. As a child in Sinaloa, Mexico, he was first introduced to the music of Pedro Infante and Roberto Carlos, as well as the Beatles and the Bee Gees. That early introduction to two musical worlds would stay with him, and ultimately lead to a career. Years later, having emigrated to the U.S., he began singing in local and regional shows, never letting a chance to perform go by. With his voice, charm, and his ability to connect with an audience, he won over the hearts of Hispanic audiences in everything from home concerts to shows in front of 20,000 people. In 2012, he was a finalist on “Tengo Talento, Mucho Talento”, one of the most popular television shows among Hispanics in the U.S., where his voice reached a national audience for the first time.