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GeneaQuest 2024 Speakers

CAGGNI's 6th biennial conference on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2024, will be at the Wojcik Center at Harper College in Palatine. The conference will be a one-day, in-person event, featuring regional presenters covering a wide range of genealogy topics of interest to all skills and interest levels.

Featuring regional speakers

Tina Beaird

Tina is the owner of Tamarack Genealogy and is the Genealogy/LocaI History Librarian at the Plainfield Public Library. She lectures extensively on military research, Scottish records, and archival preservation. She is First Vice President of the Illinois State Genealogical Society and board director for the Oswegoland Heritage Association. Occasionally, Tina finds time to research her own family tree, which she has been pursuing for over 30 years.

Steve Szabados

Steve is a lecturer and author who has given numerous programs to genealogy groups and libraries. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Northern Illinois University. He is the author of over fifteen genealogy books and over twenty family histories. He is also a contributing editor for the Polish American Journal, a Polish Genealogical Society of America member, and a genealogy volunteer at his local library. He has a passion for sharing his love of family history, and his courses cover the methods he has found successful in his twenty years of research experience.

Liz Ross

Liz Ross, professional genealogist, focuses on the Midwest and its feeder states. Currently she serves as CAGGNI's VP of programs, and was Chair of their 2022 Conference, "Telling Stories: Building Skills". In the five years directly pre-COVID, Ms. Ross led "Second Saturday Genealogy" at the Forest Park Library, a two hour bi-monthly forum for demolishing brick walls, focused instruction and celebration of individual achievements. She also spoke nationally and regionally, and was published in the Chicago Genealogy Society Quarterly. From 1993-2006, Ms. Ross was President (2 terms), Trustee (10 yrs.), and Editor of the Quarterly for ClanRossAmerica, a Scottish heritage organization (10 yrs. with 2 awards). She lives west of Chicago with lovely husband, two computers, two spinning wheels and many books. Her blog may be found at

Laura Chaplin

Laura Street Chaplin is the owner of Willowtree Research Genealogy Services, and currently living in Sugar Grove, Illinois, Laura was raised in southeastern Iowa and has lived all around the Midwest: Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio. In addition to her genealogy business doing client work and offering on-line Study Groups, Laura is a former History & Genealogy Manager at the Lawrence J. Martin Heritage Center in Elburn, IL. She has been an active genealogical presenter for ten years. She is a member of the APG, GSG, NGS, Board member for the Kane County Genealogical Society, a Director and Newsletter editor for the Illinois State Genealogical Society, and a member of several other local or state societies.

Caron Brennan

Caron Primas Brennan loves history, biography, puzzles, and a good mystery, which makes her perfectly suited to genealogy research! She belongs to several local and regional genealogy groups as well as being a member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild and a Professional Member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. She has been teaching at the Newberry Library in Chicago and speaking at local libraries and genealogical societies for over ten years with consistently excellent feedback.

Jenny Warner

Jenny has been doing genealogy for 42+ years. Jenny's mother started teaching Jenny and her sister all about where their family came from and how to research their family history. She is a member of many Lineage Societies and many Genealogical Societies. Jenny also holds offices in many local lineage groups and genealogical societies. Jenny loves sharing knowledge of her family history. She also likes helping people learn about their heritage. She is a Genealogical Speaker and speaks on many topics including lineage societies.

Michelle Wilson

Michelle Bray Wilson speaks throughout the Midwest, most frequently on genetic genealogy, French Canada, ancient ancestry, and creating family history books. She is a former president of CAGGNI, the Computer Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois, and served many years as Registrar at a local DAR chapter.

Eric Vavra

Eric Vavra has combined his experience in Information Technology and interest in solving the mysteries of his family history to become an avid Genealogist. He combines traditional research approaches with technology to discover and explore his roots. He leverages over 25 years of professional IT experience, especially his knowledge of data analytics, to enhance his genealogical research. His educational background and career as a global delivery consultant provide him with a uniquely diverse set of skills useful for genealogy. He strives to share his knowledge with the hope of assisting others in their journey as Genealogists.

For more information

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