Minnesota Genealogical Society

2017 North Star Conference Speakers

Kim Ashford

Kim Ashford is a professional genealogist, speaker and owner of the Twigs and Branches Genealogy Services. She is the past president of the Germanic Genealogy Society of Minnesota (GGS), a member of APG, and a founder of the International German Genealogy Partnership.

Gary Ball-Kilbourne

Gary Ball-Kilbourne started Prairie Genealogy (www.prairiegenealogy.com) to help persons find their family roots, especially in the Northern Plains states. Gary holds a Ph. D. from Vanderbilt University and the certificate in genealogical research from Boston University.

Diane Barbour

Diane Barbour, PLCGS, professional genealogist and speaker, specializes in U.S., Canadian, and British research. Passionate about teaching, she also attends many institutes and conferences to continue learning.

Melissa Brechon

Melissa is a library administrator who works as a consultant with libraries throughout the country on strategic planning, facilities master plans, operational policies and procedures, and project management. As a consultant to MGS, she worked on the MGS “Roadmap to the Future.” The report identified future capacities for the William J Hoffman Library and Resource Center related to collection management, library interns, grant opportunities, and potential partnerships. Melissa holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University/ University of St. Catherine.

Vickie Chupurdia

An accomplished genealogist specializing in lineage society proofs, Vickie is the author of two best sellers on Amazon, Jump Start Your Genealogy Research and Genealogy: Census Records. She has been seen on ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX, being recognized as a top professional in genealogy and professional speaking.

Mary Eberle

Mary Eberle is an experienced genetic genealogist. She’s a former patent attorney with extensive DNA experience. She owns DNA Hunters, LLC, which finds people’s biological parents, and helps people understand their DNA results. Mary lectures throughout the country.

J.H. Fonkert

J. H. Fonkert, CG, lectures at national and regional conferences and has taught at the Salt Lake Institute for Genealogy. He has published more than 50 research and teaching articles and is co-editor of Minnesota Genealogist. His current research focuses on English, Norwegian, and Midwest genealogy.

Greg Isola

Greg Isola has researched family history since 1978 and studied the Finnish language since 1979. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota. He and his wife raised their family in Northeast Minneapolis. In addition to time spent in research and business, Greg is pursuing certification in genealogy.

Lois Mackin

Lois Abromitis Mackin, PhD, is a professional genealogist focusing on American and English research. Lois writes for several publications and teaches about genealogical records and methods, including DNA. In her spare time, she volunteers for several genealogical and lineage societies.

Joanne Sher

Joanne M. Sher is a professional genealogist specializing in Northeast Minnesota, Northwest Wisconsin, and American-Jewish research. She serves on the boards of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest and the Foundation for East European Family History Studies.

John Vanek

John Vanek is a professional genealogist from Eden Prairie, Minnesota. He has an MA in history, a past career at several major museums, and more than a decade of genealogical research experience. His specialties include a variety of Minnesota ethnic groups, as well as the use of DNA to find birth parents.

Alice Hoyt Veen

Alice Hoyt Veen, CG, of Bouton, Iowa, is a professional researcher and educator whose specialties include Midwestern and territorial research, land, and military records. She serves as a BCG Education Fund trustee and on the Education Committee of the Iowa Genealogical Society.

Cathi Weber

Cathi Weber has more than 35 years experience researching and teaching classes. She is President of the Anoka County Genealogical Society and chair of the Education Committee of MGS. She has researched and compiled a number of charts and books for family, friends and clients.

Nicholas Weerts

Starting as a teenager, Nicholas Weerts has enjoyed more than 20 years of genealogical research. He has encountered some of the most convoluted and broken family lines known to researchers. Says Nick, "At times, I still feel like a novice, but I'm eager to share opinions or occasional knowledge on our crazy and ever-changing hobby!