Presentors' Bios

2022 information coming soon! Below is our 2019 Presentors’ bios:

Barbara McTygue Scanlon is the Genealogy Specialist at the Kansas City Irish Center. In addition to that role she is the Genealogy Committee Co-Chair of the Kansas City Irish Festival.  Her work in genealogy started at age 12 with an interview of her grandfather, a single sheet of handwritten family history in her grandparents’ living room in Eddyville, Nebraska. The curiosity of a 12-year-old grew to a life’s passion of genealogy. Barbara has learned so much about her family history in the past 5 years. Her father was 100% Irish with Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic ancestors. Her mother has three Irish lines: Roman Catholic, Irish Quaker, and a new branch of Scots-Irish Presbyterians discovered in January of 2013.  Barbara is a member of the National Genealogy Society and has attended their past six annual conferences.  She also is a member of the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History.  For the past ten years she has attended their “British Institute” in Salt Lake City, a weeklong conference on genealogy.  There in 2017, her week of study was on DNA with Dr. Maurice Gleeson.

Char Mitts is the owner, principal researcher, and lecturer for C & J Genealogical Services. She is a Lead Temple and Family History Consultant and President of the Johnson County (Kansas) Genealogical Society. She lectures for Legacy Family Tree Software and leads the Kansas City Area Legacy Family Tree Users Group. Char is a graduate of the ProGen series and leads two groups helping others to graduate from the course. She is the mother of seven children and grandmother of nineteen.

Charlotte Meyer Ker’s love of family history began in 1998.  Following her father’s death, Charlotte, her mother, and cousin Brenda, took to the roads, calling them R.I.P. (Rest in Peace) Trips: visiting her father’s people and the places from which they came. DNA experiences in 2000 took her to Kentucky, Texas, and back to Oklahoma.  Those y-DNA swabs discovered two more generations where a paper trail had been non-existent.  Taking a break from seeking a Family History Degree at BYU-Idaho, Charlotte is now serving a mission with FamilySearch. Her responsibilities include contacting repositories in Oklahoma, offering assistance in digitizing records, inventorying records of genealogical value, many of which may not have been digitized and/or placed on FamilySearch, locating volunteers to operate the cameras, and coordinating potential projects.

Christina Miller is the Senior Reference Archivist at the Missouri State Archives.  Christina graduated from Truman State University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and also holds a Masters of Archival Studies from the University of British Columbia School of Library, Archival and Information Studies.

Daniel Reeder is a Research Analyst at the Missouri State Archives.  He has an MLIS from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked at the Missouri State Archives since 2012.  

Dannell “Danni” Altman-Newell is a native Kansas Citian. She began doing family history research at an early age, courtesy of spending summers watching her maternal grandparents indexing at the local Family History Center. Danni is currently employed as a Marketing & Membership Manager at the National Storytelling Network. She serves as a volunteer for the National World War I Museum and Memorial and as Education Chair for the Heartland Chapter of the Association for Professional Genealogists. She is a graduate of ProGen 28 and enjoys learning and researching Midwest and World War I history.

Elisa Ganz Once Upon a Time…Little Miss Elisa sat listening to her father sing and tell tales and stories of his youth. He instilled in her a love and appreciation for her family. Storytelling became a family pastime and has continued as her children have grown. Due to her upbringing, Elisa has a strong passion and love for family and has always been inspired by the stories of her ancestors. Her love for family history grew as her paternal grandmother would help her assemble her book of remembrance and fill it with eventful stories of her family for the annual family reunion. Elisa is trying to carry on the tradition and example of her grandmother and loves to help inspire others to tell their story and the stories of those they love and care for. Elisa has a Bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and a Master’s in Business, both from BYU. Through a project in her MBA, Elisa was reconnected to her passion with family history and regularly shares creative and inspiring ideas at family history expos across the country. Elisa refers to herself as a momtrepreneur and possesses a passion and skill for organizing and operating successful businesses, finding ways to use her MBA to promote business that supports the family. Elisa’s number one love, however, is that of being a mom. She is simply a collector of children and is commonly called “Mother Elisa,” a title she gladly accepts as she honors and reveres the late Mother Teresa. Elisa is a mother of 5 married adult children and has four grandchildren with two more on the way. She currently lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma, with her new husband and their 18-month old triplets, making that a total of 8 children.  Elisa is here to share more about her story and inspire all to gather and create stories of their own.

Heather Dodd, daughter of an adoptee, is the founder of the Missouri Adoptee Rights Movement, the Missouri representative for G’s Adoption Registry, and the owner of Genected.  Heather is a genetic genealogist who was instrumental in working with the Missouri legislature seeing the passage of the Missouri Adoptee Rights Act. This newly revised law allows adopted adults and the descendants of deceased adopted adults to request a copy of the adoptee’s original birth certificate. Heather also works with adoptees and others to help them discover their family history through DNA even when they don’t have any names to start with.

Heidi Taylor has always enjoyed family history and research. Now she is thrilled to be able to help others find their family bloodlines.  With over 25 years of experience (and loving every minute of it!), as well as having some of the best research facilities in the USA right here in her backyard, she can’t wait to see who is in your family. Heidi is Owner/Genealogist of A Positive Genealogy and serves with Project-Genealogy-Services for the Blind & Low Vision, offers Adoption/DNA Researching, serves the MGC Brick Walls Group as Instructor, Midwest Genealogy Center as Volunteer, Kansas City Irish Festival Genealogy as Volunteer, is a Former Board Member of the Jackson County Genealogical Society, is a Member of the Buckinghamshire Family History Society (England), and is a Contributor to WESearchers-Breckenridge, Michigan. She is continuing research for her DAR membership.

Jennifer Kerns Davis graduated from BYU in 2005 with a BA in Family History and Genealogy, specializing in Hispanic and US Midwestern States research methodology. She is a RootsTech and BYU Family History Conference presenter. Jennifer has worked at FamilySearch for almost 12 years, where she is currently working as a records expert advisor for outreach marketing. Even though she knows how to do genealogy the time-consuming old-fashioned way, Jennifer seeks out opportunities to do family history in small time increments and loves involving her family of all ages in their family narrative.  

Joyce (Moore) Hodges has been interested in family history ever since grade school.  Her maternal grandmother’s family found a record from 1745 showing when her 6th great-grandfather Samuel Turrentine was indentured to pay for his passage from Ireland.  Then they found his tombstone from 1801 in North Carolina.  Her maternal grandmother’s family included Loyalist Lockwood Street who moved to Canada after the Revolutionary War, an aspect of American history that was lightly mentioned in history class.  However, it was not until her children were grown that she was able to dig into family history.  Frustrated with brick-walls, she decided to see if DNA could help.  She received the results from the first two Y-DNA tests in February 2008 and has continued to add tests, as well as test other family members, since then.  She is the administrator for the Turrentine DNA group at FTDNA, as well as the Turrentine Family American Historian and Archivist.  Her greatest pleasure comes from being able to share the history of her family – stories, documents and photographs – with distant cousins who are searching for their roots.

Karen Rawlins is an amateur family historian with over 15 years’ experience tracing her own and others’ families. She is a Regional Trainer in the Kansas City area for The Family History Guide.  She has taught beginning family history lessons and is the Family Historian for her grandmother’s family association which has been in existence for over 50 years. 

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 as well as had genealogy articles published in the Swedish American newspaper, (Nordstjernan). Ms. Meade serves on the advisory board for the Nordic Family Research Center at the Swedish American Museum in Chicago.

Lauri Jean Swett is a presenter, researcher, writer and volunteer.  She founded Genealogy by Lauri Jean in 2009. In addition to her business, she presents at GenealogyKC and local societies.  She is a researcher and guest writer for a3Genealogy and she is the former director and a current volunteer at the Platte City Family History Center.  She is a ProGen graduate and is currently pursuing a certificate in Written Storytelling.  Her ancestors have provided 40 years of research experience in the Midwest and Southern United States, Canada and Scandinavia.  

Mary Celeste holds a Master of Library and Information Science Degree from University of Missouri-Columbia and is a retired branch librarian with Mid-Continent Public Library.  She has served on the American Library Association’s Genealogy Committee and chaired the ALA Local History Committee, as well as similar positions with the Missouri Library Association.  She is currently the Vice President of the Northland Genealogy Society and on the board of the Missouri State Genealogical Association (MoSGA).  She has spoken at national, state and local conferences and events, but her greatest joy is discovering the stories of her own ancestors to share with her children and grandchildren.

Midwest Genealogy Center (MGC) is one of the nation’s preeminent resources for family history, providing access to almost three-quarters of a million on-site materials. MGC features 52,000 square feet of space to house all the free resources and technology needed to research family history. The MGC is part of the Mid-Continent Public Library (MCPL) system.  MCPL has a long history of providing outstanding genealogy resources, and MGC has been a major step in the growth of the system.  Among its many features, MGC houses a uniquely expansive circulating collection and almost completely open stacks.  New technology is also a major attribute of the building.  Microfilm reader-printers, a self-digitization station, and significant database access allow researchers to use today’s technology to assist their investigations.  (Classes will be taught by professional staff from the MGC in Independence, Missouri.)

Pam Miller’s mother fostered an interest in family history in her early years. By about 1995, Pam’s son was growing up, giving her more time for her own interests. Genealogy became a hobby she could enjoy as a school teacher during school and summer vacations. In 2012, Pam retired from teaching and set about building her background knowledge through online classes from the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. She also became a graduate of ProGen19. Pam is very active in the Johnson County Genealogy Society where she teaches classes, gives talks, and volunteers at her library’s genealogy desk. Her other interests are reading, time with family and friends, hiking and traveling.

Patti Todd Gillespie brings energy and humor to her classes.  For over 30 years as an avid hobby genealogist, four years ago Patti formed Family Lines & Stories, her own research company, working with clients in and out of Texas. As a former teacher, Patti enjoys speaking and has spoken frequently in Oklahoma and Texas on a variety of genealogical topics.  This year Patti is presenting at BYU in Provo, Utah. In 2017, Patti was recruited to serve on three committees: the Association of Professional Genealogists — Lone Star Chapter, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), and the newest national institute – the Texas Institute for Genealogical Research. In 2016, Patti was selected to assist NARA-Fort Worth with indexing slave manifests.  She also spoke at the Texas State Genealogical Society state conference. In 2015, she served as the chairman of the video and streaming portion of the national Professional Management Conference, sponsored by the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), and she was awarded the Birdie Monk Holsclaw IGHR award. Patti is a founding member and third-term president of the Wise County Genealogical Society, and she also teaches a six-week beginner’s genealogy course. Patti serves on the boards of Wise County Historical Society and Wise County Historical Commission. Patti attends as many conferences and watches as many webinars as she is able to manage with her husband, children, grandchildren, rescue dog and acreage in Decatur, Texas.

Sherri Camp has been a veteran genealogist for 30 years. She has BA’s in History and Sociology, a Masters in Liberal Studies, and a Certificate in Genealogy.  She is a past member of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), former librarian at the LDS Family History Center in Topeka, KS, and a Family History Consultant since 2005.  She is the founding president of Kansas Network to Freedom (part of the National Park Service program), educating the public on the Underground Railroad (UGRR) in Kansas. Sherri is the president of Kansas Chapter AAHGS, AAHGS National VP Genealogy and Past President, and the Genealogy librarian at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library.  In 2013, she published a book titled African American Topeka, part of the “Images of America” Series from Arcadia Publishers, which chronicles over 150 years of African Americans in Topeka.  She teaches genealogy and history classes and workshops across the country. Sherri is president and founder of Family Artifacts and Cultural Exchange, a group helping researchers of African-American genealogy.

Victoria J Robinson has been an active genealogist for more than 35 years.  She also works to help others discover their roots.  For more than 22 years, she has worked as a senior librarian at the Annandale (Virginia) Family History Center, where she teaches patrons and staff about African American historical research in addition to general research methodologies.