Keynote & Presenters

Keynote

Beverly Grant

"A Proud Heritage"

Judge Beverly G. (Johnson) Grant served as a Pierce County Superior Court Judge, from 2003 to 2013. She graduated from Stadium High School (1969 Daffodil Princess); the University of Washington (B.A. 1973 and J.D. 1976) and then served as a Senior Law Clerk for Judge Jack E. Tanner, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.

She is currently an attorney and for more than thirty years her practice has focused on complex multi-party high six and seven-figure cases in the Federal and State Courts of Washington and California, particularly in the areas of employment discrimination. She also practiced in the areas of personal injury and probate matters. She has successfully served on various national and state community organizations.

With strong ties to her community serving on a variety of charitable and non-profit boards, she has seen the legal challenges people face in their lives and she possesses a passion for advocating the legal rights of others.

Some of her pastime hobbies include downhill skiing, gardening, and enjoying epicurean delights.

Class Presenters

Thom Reed

"Mine the Gold- Effectively Research Millions of Freemen's Bureau and Freedman's Bank Records"


Freedmen’s Bureau and Freedman’s Bank, two separate entities with two different sets of records. There were two different projects that have made the records searchable online.

Freedman’s Bank project contains 480,597 records of African Americans who deposited money in the Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company between 1865 and 1874.

The Freedmen’s Bureau was the much larger organization that operated in 15 Southern states and the District of Columbia between 1865 and 1872. The name of the organization was the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen & Abandoned Lands but it was nicknamed, “Freedmen’s Bureau” for short.

Thom's presentation shares information on researching the records of both organizations.

In his presentation he answers the following questions:

  • What were the Freedmen’s Bureau and Freedman’s Bank?

  • What records were kept during the operation of the two organizations?

  • What was the Freedmen’s Bureau Project of 2015 and how can it help you?

  • What is the best way to use these records for genealogical research?


Thom Reed is the director of African heritage initiatives for North America. He is also Deputy Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch International, a free website containing over fourteen billion searchable names and images. His area of emphasis is African American records, research, and experiences. He also manages relationships with community, genealogical and historical organizations for people of African descent.

Reed received his B.A. degree in international business from Illinois State University and received an M.B.A. degree in marketing from Brigham Young University. Prior to working for FamilySearch, Reed spent 12 years as a marketing, communications, and business development professional. In 2019, he served on the national board of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) as the Vice President for genealogy. He and wife, Lisa, are the parents of 5 children and reside in South Jordan, Utah.


James S. Brown, MD

"Decoding Your Family Through DNA"

This class will cover what DNA kits are and how to use them. James will describe the different DNA kit options available and how they differ. He will explain terms used in DNA results and how to use them to uncover your family story.

James Brown is a Graduate of University of Wyoming (1970) and received his M.D. from Oregon Health Sciences University in 1974. He then completed a Family Practice Residency, an Internal Medicine Residency and an Allergy Immunology Fellowship and began a twenty year career in the US Army.


Colonel Brown retired from the army in 1995. He then entered private practice in Tacoma where he worked until full retirement in 2016. He currently serves as Assistant Director of the Tacoma Family History Center. His interests include Immunology and Genetics, and Family History.


Janice Martin & Gaaren Anderson

"Building Your Story"

Janice and Gaaren will share strategies on how to tell your own story. You will learn tips on how to interview family members, preserve family photos, and how government archives and maps can enrich your story. The class will help you bring your story to life and preserve your personal history for generations to come.

Janice Martin attended BYU, studied English/Psychology, graduating with a B.A. in Humanities. She was a military wife for over 30 years and has lived throughout the US and overseas. She retired in 2004 as a Career Center Counseling assistant.

Janice has volunteered for many local community projects and has attended numerous genealogical classes at RootsTech Connect and BYU Education Week. Her studies have focused on “journaling” and “writing your life history”. She volunteers as the Tacoma South Stake Communications Director. She has lived in the Puget Sound area for over 50 Years and has 5 children.

Gaaren Anderson is a Marriage and Family Therapist MEd, LMFT, LMHC. He is a youth leader, teaching boys to swim, kayak, hike, camp, build fires, etc.


He is the Co-Director of Tacoma Family History Center, with his wife Mary Anderson. He's a Family History Consultant and trainer.


He has co-authored two family history books (written as bedtime stories for children) and a book of descendants and has preserved collections of videos by family members.

Mary Anderson & Alisha Chang

"Tacoma Pierce Records Project"

The Tacoma Family History Center and Community volunteers are working jointly with the BYU Record Linking Lab to bring local records about overlooked and underserved populations into Family Search Database using crowdsourcing. They are making records of all people who lived in Pierce County a century ago much easier to find. This ongoing project has more than 35,000 County records from 1857 to 1910 that are not yet available in FamilySearch catalog. These include territorial records, obscure cemetery records, school and voting records, biographies, and jail records. More volunteers are needed to complete this project. Learn what you can do to help complete the exciting Tacoma/Pierce Records Project.


Mary Anderson is a Rootstech Connect 2022 Presenter, a Tacoma Records Project Leader and Co-Director of the Tacoma Family History Center in Tacoma, Washington. Mary is on the planning committee for Tacoma’s African American Family History Event. She has 40+ years of family history and genealogy experience, and has worked on genealogical, and historical preservation with local museums and genealogical societies. She is the family historian of the Fry Family and keeper of their electronic and actual records and artifacts from “Rhode Island to Oregon Trail”.

Mary served 3 years as a volunteer researcher and trainer at FamilySearch International. She loves connecting her community to resources available at the Tacoma Family History Center. She is a great enthusiast of new tech and how it improves family history speed and accuracy.


Alisha Pixton Chang, Chairman of the African American Family History Event Planning Committee, has a BS in Therapeutic Recreation from Brigham Young University.  She is a former president of BYU Black Student Union, and was employed by Multicultural Student Services at BYU where she assisted in planning local Black History Month events.  

After moving to Tacoma, she formed the African American Family History Focus Group which led to the formation of the Tacoma/Pierce County Records Project. Alisha has recruited and taught hundreds of adults and teens how to index local genealogical records. Her volunteers have added over 1, 000 Pierce County records to FamilySearch utilizing the BYU Record Linking Lab. She enjoys community projects that help individuals make lifelong and healing connections.

She grew up in Washington State and lives with her husband and children in Parkland Washington.


Joe Price

"The African American Families Project"

Joe's record linking lab has been working to dramatically improve the information available to African Americans, and help create new discovery experiences for people of African descent. The project has added over six million African Americans to the FamilySearch Family Tree site using data from the 1900 and 1910 US Census. His organization works with volunteers to connect these individuals to their extended family members using record hints and public member trees on other websites. This course is of special value to those who have black or African American ancestry doing similar work, and how to add in what they know about their family to the FamilySearch data.

Joe Price is a professor of economics at Brigham Young University and the Director of the BYU Record Linking Lab (rll.byu.edu). The lab combines machine learning and family history to automatically index historical records, link records together, and create new family history experiences.

Joe's record linking lab has been working to dramatically improve the coverage of African Americans on the Family Tree as a way to create new discovery experiences using automated tools. The lab has added over six million African Americans to the FamilySearch International Family Tree.

Two of the tools that they have created are the customized hints app and reverse indexing. Learn more about the Record Linking Lab on their Facebook page.


Thom Reed

"RootsTech Connect-

The World's Largest Family History Conference"

RootsTech Connect is an all-virtual genealogy conference coming March 3-5, 2022. It is 100% virtual and 100% free. In 2021 the conference welcomed over 1 million people participating form over 240 countries around the world.

This year's conference offers thousands of classes, inspiring speakers, meaningful activities, and joyful connections, and a year-long learning platform. It brings the human family together like no other event. This class will explain what RootsTech Connect has to offer people of African descent. It will highlight classes that are specific to African American ancestry on how to make your own family history discoveries.

Thom Reed is the director of African heritage initiatives for North America. He is also Deputy Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch International, a free website containing over fourteen billion searchable names and images. His area of emphasis is African American records, research, and experiences.

He also manages relationships with community, genealogical and historical organizations for people of African descent. Reed received his B.A. degree in international business from Illinois State University and received an M.B.A. degree in marketing from Brigham Young University. Prior to working for FamilySearch, Reed spent 12 years as a marketing, communications, and business development professional.

In 2019, he served on the national board of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) as the Vice President for genealogy. He and wife, Lisa, are the parents of 5 children and reside in South Jordan, Utah.

Thom Reed- RootsTech Connect 2021 presentation- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCxr6W-tkoY