Academy 2021 Faculty

Nichelle Barra

Nichelle BarraNichelle Barra is originally from Saginaw, Michigan, but has lived in many states and currently resides in Colorado with her husband and dog. She studied secondary education at Central Michigan University with a double-major in English and history, and has taught middle and high school English in Florida, Indiana, Colorado, and virtual schools. She pursued genealogy professionally in 2013 with the NGS Home Study Course, BU Genealogical Research Certificate (OL15), ProGen Study Group (25), 2017 GRIP (Practical Genetic Genealogy), 2019 & 2020 SLIG (DNA for the 21st Century Professional & Advanced Legal Concepts for Genealogy), 2019 Gen-Fed, local & national conferences, webinars, and speaking at local societies. Nichelle started her genealogy business, Copper Leaf Genealogy, in 2014, and has worked at Ancestry ProGenealogists since 2018. She works primarily with DNA analysis, research in the Mid-West, New England, and some Mid-Atlantic and Canadian research. Nichelle is currently on the clock for her BCG portfolio.

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 (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.

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. Prior to her involvement with genetic genealogy, she pursued a career in molecular and clinical genetics. Between obtaining her bachelors and masters 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.

Catherine B. W. Desmarais, CG

Catherine B. W. Desmarais, CGCatherine B. W. Desmarais, CG, is a full-time professional genealogist, author, and educator, and owner of Stone House Historical Research. 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 U.S. and internationally, with a particular focus on Vermont and Ireland.

Catherine 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. She has a master’s degree 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.

Daniel A. Earl, MS

Daniel A. Earl, MSDaniel Earl, MS, lives in DeWitt, Michigan with his wife and six children, and he has researched his family history for 30+ years. He is a professional educator, teaching at both the collegiate and secondary levels. He holds a Master's degree in psychology focusing on learning development across the lifespan. He is also a professional researcher and lecturer, having spoken across North America at numerous local, state, provincial, and regional conferences as well as national conferences such as the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference, RootsTech, the Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Management Conference, and as an instructor at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh. Dan is the president of the Hungarian Genealogical Society of Michigan and serves on the boards of directors for many genealogical societies.

Paul Gorry, MAGI, FSG, FIGRS

Paul Gorry, MAGI, FSG, FIGRSPaul Gorry is a full-time professional genealogist and writer, living and working in Ireland. He has been involved in the field professionally for over forty years, beginning his career as a researcher for the Genealogical Office, Dublin. His credential, which he has held since 1987, is as a Member of Accredited Genealogists Ireland (AGI). As well as having served as Hon. Secretary and President of AGI, he was the initiator of the Irish Genealogical Congress and chairman of its organizing committee, running four international conferences in the period 1991-2001.

As a writer, his books include Tracing Irish Ancestors (1997; written with Máire Mac Conghail), Seven Signatories: Tracing the Family Histories of the Men who Signed the Proclamation (2016) and Credentials for Genealogists: Proof of the Professional (2018). As well as conducting research for individual clients, he is on the AGI panel that operates the free Genealogy Advisory Service for the National Archives in Dublin. He is a Fellow of the Society of Genealogists (London) and a Fellow and Vice President of the Irish Genealogical Research Society.

Paul K. Graham, AG, CG, CGL

Paul K. Graham, AG, CG, CGLPaul 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 Utah.

Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS, FUGA

Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS, FUGAKaren Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS, FUGA, of Monroe, New York, is an editor, author, lecturer, and professional genealogist. She served as editor of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record from 2011 until her retirement at the end of 2017. She was named a fellow of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society in November 2012, and has served on the NYG&B Family History Advisory Committee (formerly the Education Committee) since 2011. Karen was made a fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association in 2019. She has lectured at national, state, regional, and local conferences, and coordinates institute courses at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, and the Institute for Genealogical and Historical Research. She holds an MA from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in History Museum Studies (State University of New York, Oneonta). She has served on the boards of APG (as Regional Vice President and Director) and FGS (as Director; Vice President of Administration; National Conference Chair of the 1997 FGS conference in Dallas, Texas; and Chair of the FGS Public Relations Committee, 1992-1998).

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

Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, FASG, FUGA, FNGSThomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, FASG, FUGA, FNGS, is an award-winning genealogical researcher, author, and educator. He co-edited the National Genealogical Society Quarterly in 2003–18. He is a former trustee and past president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, past board member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and recipient of its Grahame T. Smallwood Jr. Award of Merit and its Professional Achievement Award. He also has received the Utah Genealogical Association’s Silver Tray Award and its Award of Merit. Retired from a thirty-year career in higher education and professor emeritus at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., Tom coordinates courses at the Institute on Genealogy and Historical Research and the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, teaches classes at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and its Academy for Professionals, and speaks frequently at national, state, and local genealogical society seminars. He has written more than twenty-five articles in scholarly genealogy journals, the textbooks Mastering Genealogical Proof and Mastering Genealogical Documentation, and chapters in Professional Genealogy and Advanced Genetic Genealogy. He specializes in skillfully using genealogical evidence and writing genealogical articles.

Angela Packer McGhie, CG

Angela Packer McGhie, CGAngela Packer McGhie, CG, has a passion for teaching genealogy. She is the Education Director for the National Genealogical Society and the vice president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Angela enjoys coordinating courses for the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and she teaches at several other genealogy institutes. She served as the administrator of the ProGen Study Program for six years and is now on the board of directors.

Angela speaks at national conferences and has published articles in Crossroads, the APG Quarterly, and the NGS Magazine. She is a past president of the National Capital Area Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists and currently serves a trustee for the Board for Certification of Genealogists Education Fund.

Kelvin L. Meyers

Kelvin L. MeyersA fifth-generation Texan and professional forensic genealogist. Since 1996, Kelvin is a frequent speaker to genealogical societies and family associations throughout the United States. He specializes in southern brick wall problems for clients. Kelvin has recently joined the team at Ancestry ProGenealogists.

Kelvin is a 1989 and 1990 alumnus of the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University and has returned to IGHR as lecturer in the Southern Course and the Professional Course. In 2016 he co-coordinated with J. Mark Lowe, A Swing Through the South at SLIG (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogical Research). In 2019 Kelvin coordinated the Burned Counties and More: Overcoming Record Loss course for SLIG.

He is a past board member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, a past President of the Lone Star Chapter of APG, and a founding member for the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy (CAFG).

The Dallas Genealogical Society awarded Kelvin the Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck Distinguished Service Award in December of 2018.

In 2016 Kelvin published Research in Texas for the National Genealogical Society Research in the States series. Kelvin is also the director of the Texas Institute of Genealogical Research (TIGR) sponsored by the Texas State Genealogical Society.

Allen Peterson, AG, CG

Allen Peterson, AG, CGAllen Peterson, AG, CG, is the co-editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) and a trustee for the Board for Certification of Genealogists. He is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the National Genealogical Society, the Houston Genealogical Forum, the Society of Genealogists in London, the Derbyshire Family History Society, the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society, and the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History (ISBGFH). He recently completed a two-year term as the vice president of the ISBGFH. Allen served as the Director of the Katy Texas Family History Center from 1999 to 2016. He began researching in England in the early-to-mid 1990s and has authored numerous articles on English genealogy in the NGSQ. He has published in the NGS Magazine and Crossroads. Allen holds BS and MS degrees from Brigham Young University in geology and retired from Apache Corporation in Houston as a petroleum geologist in 2017, after working forty-two years in the oil and gas industry.

Mauri Pratt, AG, CG

Mauri Pratt, AG, CGMauri Pratt is both an Accredited Genealogist and a Certified Genealogist with over fifteen years of genealogical research experience. Specializing in Southern United States research problems, Mauri joined AncestryProGenealogists in April 2018 as a researcher. Prior to joining ProGen, Mauri owned her own research business and taught family history college courses online for BYU-Idaho. She also served as the ICAPGen Level 1 Chair. Mauri manages the Jared Pratt Family Association, the oldest genealogical organization of its kind in the United States. From presenting at local, state, and national conferences like RootsTech and the National Genealogical Society Annual Conference to engaging her four young children in family history research, Mauri thrives on sharing her passion for the process of research and her joy in discovering ancestral mysteries.

Mauri is skilled at utilizing DNA and advanced methodologies to overcome genealogy “brick walls.” While she is focused on finding the facts, dates, and locations of missing ancestral links, she particularly enjoys learning the stories of her ancestors and the ancestors of others. Mauri descends from Mayflower passengers, a Salem “witch,” Utah pioneers, Tennessee long hunters, and veterans of the Revolutionary War, Mexican War, Civil War, and various 20th-century wars. She is passionate about guiding others on their journeys to discover their own family histories.

Michael S. Ramage, JD, CG

Michael S. Ramage, JD, CGMichael S. Ramage, JD, CG, began his professional genealogy career in 1998. Since 2002, he has been a full-time forensic genealogist, author, lecturer and expert witness specializing in estate, real estate, copyright and trademark research. Mr. Ramage became a board-certified genealogist in 2002. He has served as a Trustee, officer and now General Counsel of the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) since 2010. In 2013, he served on BCG’s Genealogy Standards Committee that resulted in the complete revision of the industry’s standards published in 2014. His 25-year law practice included civil litigation, contracts, wills, estates, trusts and elder law. He has taught numerous forensic genealogy courses at genealogy conferences and institutes around the country. His related publications include: “Forensic Specialization” and “Ethical Considerations” chapters in Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards, Elizabeth Shown Mills, editor (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2018).

Karen Stanbary, MA, LCSW, CG

Karen Stanbary, MA, LCSW, CGKaren Stanbary, MA, LCSW, CG®, BCG Trustee, is an author and national lecturer focusing on topics related to using genetic evidence correlated with documentary evidence to solve genealogical brick walls. A Chicago local, she holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Chicago and has completed advanced graduate study in Social Anthropology at the Colegio de Michoacán, Mexico. Her genealogical practice specializes in Midwestern U.S., Chicago, and Mexican research as well as complex problem-solving, unknown parentage, and DNA analysis. She is a coordinator and faculty member at IGHR, and SLIG. She is a faculty member at GRIP. She received the NGSQ Award for Excellence for her complex evidence case study incorporating traditional documentary research and autosomal DNA analysis in the June 2016 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. Most recently, she published “Drowning in DNA? The Genealogical Proof Standard Tosses a Lifeline” in Debbie Parker Wayne’s book Advanced Genetic Genealogy: Techniques and Case Studies. She holds the credential Certified Genealogist from the Board for Certification of Genealogists where she serves as a Trustee and is chair of the standing DNA Committee.

Scott Wilds, CG

Scott Wilds, CG Scott Wilds, CG, has been an avid genealogist for fifty years. A part-time professional, he is currently genealogical consultant to the Penn and Slavery Project at the University of Pennsylvania. His lineage of three generations of an African American family, from West Africa to the Great Migration, is on the Board for Certification of Genealogists’ Learning Center website, and he has published in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. Board-certified since 2017, Scott is a BCG trustee and treasurer. For the last twenty years, much of his research has focused on Darlington County, SC. His website contains abstracts of slave-related deeds and other documents from the Darlington County deed books, indexes to ration books and medical records from the Freedmen’s Bureau field office in Darlington, and other resources. He has spoken at South Carolina Genealogical Society Summer Workshops on using estate and equity records in African American research, records of the Freedmen’s Bureau, and other topics. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, he has a master’s degree in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania and was an associate editor of the Papers of William Penn.

Katherine Willson

Katherine WillsonKatherine Willson lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband and two dogs, and she has researched her family’s genealogy for 40+ years. She works full-time as a genealogical researcher for private clients, and she averages 65 lectures annually at local, state, regional, and national societies and conferences, including the Association of Professional Genealogists’ Professional Management conferences, the Federation of Genealogical Societies conferences, the National Genealogical Societies conferences, and RootsTech conferences. She is the Past President of the Michigan Genealogical Council, and is the Founder and President of the Virtual Genealogical Association, whose membership has grown to over 1900 members from 23 countries. Katherine is currently on the clock for her BCG certification, and continues her education through SLIG (3 years), SLIG Academy (2 years), and GRIP (2 years).