PresidentJames Sorenson has been seriously pursuing genealogy since 1994 and it has led him to visit more than 30 courthouses and at least that number of libraries. In the past couple of years, he has become more interested in DNA as a means of finding cousins, filling knowledge gaps and discovering surprises. Jim still gets excited about tracing a family, even when it is not his own. He has been a CGS member since 2007, and since 2010 he has been an active volunteer on the research and investment committees. Jim has also co-led CGS sponsored research trips to Salt Lake City and has previously served on the CGS Board.
Vice PresidentMaureen Hanlon joined CGS in 2008. She has been a Desk Duty Volunteer, and conducted post-class evaluation surveys before taking the lead for planning in-house classes in 2015. Maureen enjoys teaching classes, developing her expertise on Irish records, and offering consultations for beginning Irish researchers. Maureen retired in late 2014 from a career in health care policy research, quality improvement consulting and education for providers. She enjoys the time she now has to keep up with her adult children, swim, and take yoga classes.
James Russell grew up in Connecticut and lives in Berkeley. His paternal ancestors arrived in the seventeenth century to New England. His maternal ancestors immigrated from Bohemia to Manhattan by 1880. No direct ancestors ever lived west of the Hudson River. His research focuses on New England, New York and Central Europe. He has done extensive primary research in all these places and attended institutes at SLIG, IGHR, Genfed and GRIP. He reads Czech, German, Russian, French, Japanese and Latin. He has a BSFS (Georgetown), an MA in Slavic linguistics (Chicago), and a PhD in anthropology (London – SOAS). He is very interested in DNA-related issues and administers two surname projects for FTDNA.
Matthew B. Berry, CG®
TreasurerMatthew Berry became interested in family history research in 2003 during a family reunion. He was born in San Diego and grew up in Foster City before attending and receiving a BA and MS from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MBA from Santa Clara University. Now retired from Wells Fargo Bank, Matt has been a member of CGS since 2006, has served as a desk duty volunteer in the past, and has taught several CGS classes on Microsoft Word skills for genealogists. His genealogical research has focused on California, New England and the American mid-west.
Stewart Blandón Traiman
Recording SecretaryGenealogy has been an obsession for Stewart Blandón Traiman for 30 years. He began by interviewing parents, grandparents and other relations about his roots in Nicaragua. He is still hoping to prove the family legend of escaping the Spanish Inquisition. When he married Leland Traiman, 25 years ago, he took on the new adventure researching Ukrainian and Polish Jews. Stewart has also researched his children’s origins back to the colonial United States. Whenever a friend asks, Stewart is happy to trace their family stories and among his family tree collections, he now has 8 trees in perpetual progress.
Corresponding SecretaryJoanna Shear was born in Boston, grew up in Missouri, and landed in the Bay Area 21 years ago. A member of CGS since 2016, she has a BS in physics from Indiana University, an MSE in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech, and has completed Boston University’s Certificate Program in Genealogical Research. She was first drawn to genealogy by an unknown name on a mysterious engraved silver chalice, which led to a reunion for family separated by the Holocaust. Eleven years down the road, she is deep into the history of her Jewish ancestors as they moved within Europe and emigrated to other continents. She now also uses DNA to go beyond the documentation and trace new family connections. As her research for family and others has grown into new areas, so has her dedication to making genealogy open and accessible to all.
Board of Directors
Grant DinGrant Din has been interested in genealogy ever since a cousin told him forty years ago that he was in the 36th generation of Gongs! Since that time, he has researched his and many families’ immigration histories including when he was on the staff of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. He has worked in the Bay Area nonprofit sector his entire adult life and has extensively volunteered his genealogical services. Grant moderates a Chinese American family history email group and has spoken at many libraries and genealogical societies. He completed Boston University’s Certificate Program in Genealogical Research in 2015 and enjoyed being a part of the team that researched the six Chinese seamen who survived the Titanic for the film “The Six”.
Jennifer DixJennifer Dix worked as a news reporter and editor for more than 20 years. She has been an active CGS volunteer since 2017 and currently manages the CGS blog and social media. She is also co-editor of our journal, The California Nugget. She completed the Boston University Genealogical Research Certificate Program in 2016 and the ProGen Study Program in 2019.
Stacy HooverStacy Hoover has been intrigued by genealogy since childhood, when she discovered her name in a massive family history text. A photo of her paternal great-grandparents reignited this interest many years later. Stacy grew up in Marin County and attended Stanford as well as Santa Clara University. She has spent 25 years as a school counselor and special education teacher. She completed Boston University’s Certificate Program in Genealogical Research in 2015, joined CGS in 2016, and finished the 18 month ProGen Study Program in 2017. Stacy’s research interests include colonial-era New England and DNA, and she loves a good handwriting transcription challenge! She has served as a volunteer genealogist with the 2016 and 2018 Nikkei Pilgrimages to Angel Island and as Assistant Editor of The California Nugget.
Richard KehoeRichard Kehoe became interested in family history research years ago during visits with his mother and aunt, listening to their spirited discussions about growing up in San Francisco. Rich is a 6th generation San Franciscan. His ancestors came to San Francisco in 1769 with the Spanish Portola Expedition. He also has extensive Irish roots. Rich did not become obsessed with genealogy until 2010, and discovered CGS two years later, after retiring from a sales and marketing career in the educational technology business. He has been a volunteer with the Educational Programs & Events Committee, and has attended SLIG and taken many of CGS’s wonderful classes, seminars and trips. Rich is a member of UGS, NGS and Los Californianos.
Marisela MeskusMarisela “Merry” Meskus became interested in genealogy after a family trip to the Dominican Republic in 2004. She enjoys bragging that she knows her ancestors’ countries of origin. Her father was born in the Dominican Republic. The immigrants on her mother’s side came from Mexico in different waves during the 20th century (some going back and forth). She is therefore a first-generation American as well as a second-generation, third-generation, and fourth-generation Californian. Marisela was born in Merced and graduated from the University of California, Merced with a BA in History. She moved to the Bay Area to attend San Francisco State University and obtained an MA in Linguistics in 2015. Marisela joined CGS in April 2017, the same year she received a certificate from Boston University in Genealogical Research. She volunteered with the CGS research and strategic planning committees while also volunteering at the Oakland FamilySearch Library. With the board’s approval, Marisela created the CGS Facebook group to encourage interaction between members, to advertise CGS events, and to provide a place where non-members can communicate with the society.
Arlene MilesArlene Georgia Schroeder-Miles A native New Yorker, she’s been a San Franciscan since 1984, when she and her husband, Ted Miles, moved out west. Her credentials include an Associate Degree in Library Technology from City College San Francisco. Prior to retiring and becoming a volunteer with us, she served as an assistant librarian at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. A member of the society since 2007, she began her genealogy journey in the fourth grade, when she had an assignment to draw a pedigree of three generations. She added her parents, then grandparents and found some hints that maybe there were more people in the family tree… She likes to ‘pay it forward’, by helping others to research and record their families.
Theresa MurphyTheresa Murphy has been researching her ancestry since 2016 when she traveled to Ireland to visit her family’s homelands and meet newly found cousins. She has been a member of CGS since 2018. Since joining CGS, she expanded her research to her New England ancestry with the help of one of our members. Theresa is a native of Oakland and spent her professional career as a CPA in auditing, consulting, and systems implementations – skills which have proven invaluable in genealogy research. She is currently serving on the Website Committee, assisting in the development of our new website, and is teaching a workshop on creating a family history book.
Linda Harms Okazaki
Past PresidentLinda Harms Okazaki is a fourth generation San Franciscan who has lived all but two years of her life in the Bay Area. Her interest in genealogy began as a hobby in 1998 but has since grown to a personal quest. Linda has been researching her husband’s ancestry for the past several years, documenting his family in the internment camps and in Japan. She is passionate about researching, documenting, teaching, and sharing the stores of Japanese Americans.