Illinois State Genealogical Society

Meet the ISGS Board Members

 

Bob Andrews, President

Bob lives in Danville, Illinois after moving from St. Louis City about 22 years ago. He volunteered at a Family History Library in St. Louis and quite a bit of his research knowledge comes from this area. Bob has been a member of the STL society for many years as well as a guest speaker for them in 1995. Bob now volunteers at the Illiana Genealogical and Historical Society in Danville, Illinois. This society covers all of Vermilion county Illinois and was established in 1964.

 

Louise Svehla, 2nd Vice President

Louise Svehla is an Adult Services Librarian at the Joliet Public Library and has been researching her family tree for over 20 years. The earliest Illinois residents in her family tree are Czech immigrants who settled in Chicago in the 1880s. A lifelong resident of Illinois, most of her research focuses on the Chicago and Cook County area. She is also an active member and volunteer of the Czech and Slovak American Genealogy Society of Illinois (CSAGSI) and Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International (CGSI). Louise also occasionally offers introductory genealogy programs to her library community.

 

Jenny Fisher, Recording Secretary, Chair of Membership Committee

Jenny is a recently retired executive with 40 years’ experience in corporate development, strategy, HR and operations, with a career that spans federal government, Motorola, start-ups, and non-profits. Her Illinois ancestors arrived in the 1830’s and settled in Adams County, where she focuses her research. Jenny is currently pursuing a Certificate in American Genealogical Studies from the National Genealogical Society. She also serves as Recording Secretary of the Signal Hill Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Barrington, Illinois and has registered her patriot ancestor as a member of the Indiana Territorial Guard Society.

Margaret Truax, Treasurer 

Margaret has pursued genealogy for many years, and last year completed Boston University's certificate program in genealogical research. Her ancestors were immigrants to Chicago from Scotland, England, Ireland, Germany, Bohemia, and Luxembourg. Her husband's ancestors were early New Englanders who later migrated to New York and Michigan. Margaret is currently completing his Mayflower Society application. Margaret has had her own consulting business, Truax Associates, since 1994, working with businesses and not for profit organizations on human resource and management issues, including grant writing. She continues to work on a few client projects, although she tries to reserve plenty of time for genealogy. Margaret first joined the ISGS Governing Board in February 2014 as Publications chair, subsequently serving as a director and as treasurer.  

 

Tina Beaird, 2020 Director, Military Certificate Committee Chair

Tina is the owner of Tamarack Genealogy and is the Genealogy/Local History Librarian at the Plainfield Public Library. She lectures nationally on military research, genealogical methodology, Scottish records, and archival preservation. She is a governing board director of the Illinois State Genealogical Society, the Northern Illinois Historical League and the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board. Tina volunteers her time with several local historical and genealogical societies scanning and indexing historic records. Occasionally, Tina finds time to research her own family tree, which she has been pursuing for over 25 years. Tina’s Illinois research is focused in Chicago; and, Cook, Kane, Kendall, Will, Perry and Randolph counties.

 

Jen Warner, 2020 Director

Jen has been doing genealogy for 42 years. Her mother started Jen and her sister teaching them about where their family came from and how to research family history. Jen is a member of many genealogical societies on the local, state and national levels, including 13 lineage societies. Jen is the current President of the DuPage County Genealogical Society and Treasurer for LGAR. Jen loves to share her knowledge of family history. She also like helping people learn about their heritage, and does so as a speaker.

Jackie Lyell, 2020 Director

 

Jackie was born and raised in Chicago and in 1991 moved to the Marion area of southern Illinois. She has been on the ISGS board for the past 4 years, first as a director and then as the treasurer. She also work with both the education and local society liaison committees. Jackie has been on the board with the Genealogy Society of Southern Illinois since 2006, serving as president for the past several years. She is also the membership chair. Jackie’s research areas are Williamson, Saline, and Cook counties in Illinois.

Candace Marx, 2021 Director, Marketing Committee Chair

Candace earned a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University and is an alumni of the ProGen Study Program. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, Chicago Area Chapter, and the Northwest Suburban Genealogical Society. Candace has ancestors from England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany and Luxembourg, and is currently researching in Kane, Cook, and Kendall Counties.

Vicki Dixon Mattson, 2021 Director, Chair of Social Media and Prairie Pioneer Committees

Vicki lives in Waukegan and is retired from the school bus industry after thirty years in management and is still involved as an instructor for the state of Illinois. As a member of the Zion Genealogical Society she is President and the FGS delegate. Vicki serves as secretary of the Waukegan Historical Society and volunteers as a docent for the annual Oakwood Cemetery Walk and Tour of Homes. She belongs to many genealogical and family societies both locally and in southern states. Vicki has been researching her family history for twenty years, mostly in the southern states but also Gallatin and White Counties.

Mary Westerhold, 2021 Director, Co-Editor of the ISGS Newsletter

Mary was born and raised in Edwardsville, the county seat of Madison County, one of the oldest counties in the state. She graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Actuarial Science. After working in the insurance industry for over 19 years, Mary quit to pursue her passion in genealogy and history. Mary began volunteering in the library at the Madison County Historical Museum and Archival Library and will be retiring after 19 years as Archival Research Manager. Although her roots are not in Madison County, she has helped many others find their family there. Mary’s family roots are in Effingham and surrounding counties so her personal research frequently takes her there. She also enjoys recording information in old family cemeteries, regardless of their location, and researching the stories of those who are buried there.

Laura Street Chaplin, 2022 Director, Co-Editor of ISGS Newsletter

Laura 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. Person research counties in Illinois include Pike, Adams, Schuyler, Lee, Peoria, and SangamonShe and her husband, Mark, were inspired by the "Roots" miniseries in college, which began a lifelong love of research and genealogy learning, raising their three daughters tramping through graveyards – now with 6 grandkids in training! In addition to her genealogy business, Laura is currently the History & Genealogy Manager at the Lawrence J. Martin Heritage Center in Elburn, IL (a new research facility of the Town & Country Public Library). She has been active as a genealogical presenter for several years in Kane and surrounding counties. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, the Genealogical Speakers Guild, several other societies, and past Recording Secretary of the Kane County Genealogical Society.

 

Kimberly Nagy, MD PLCGS, 2022 Director

Kimberly is a native of Ohio but has called the Chicago area home for over 30 years. Her family originated in 10 of the original colonies and converged in the Midwestern states of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. She began researching in the mid 1970’s and still loves to scour courthouses, libraries and cemeteries for information. She retired from a career as a Trauma Surgeon and returned to her love of genealogy. She is a member of several lineage societies and is active in most, spending her research time helping others with their applications. She also lectures on various genealogical topics around the state. Dr. Nagy is excited to join the governing board of ISGS as a director and is looking forward to becoming more involved.

Rand Veerman, 2022 Director, Advocacy Committee Chair

Rand was raised in the river town Pekin, graduated Illinois State University, and then joined the electrical trade. He retired as electrical inspector for Normal in 2017 and is still active in the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI). Rand currently is treasurer of the McLean County Genealogy Society and spends countless hours adding information/photos to Find a Grave.

Laura Marshall Kovarik, Immediate Past President, Education Committee Chair

Laura has been involved in genealogy for more than 20 years and has been very active with her local society as well as ISGS. Laura has been a member of the ISGS Governing Board for 6 years. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with degrees focused on historic preservation and land use/environmental planning. Later, Laura worked 13 years as a math tutor for grades 1-9. Areas of genealogical research include Norway, Canada, France, Bohemia and Sweden. Part of Laura’s family was in Chicago prior to the Fire in 1871. Her Illinois research focuses on Cook, Kane, McHenry and Kankakee counties.

Caron Primas Brennan, Illinois Local Society Liaison

Caron Primas Brennan loves history, biography, puzzles and a good mystery, which makes her perfectly suited to genealogy research! A 6th grade school project got her interested in researching her own family tree. She has been speaking at libraries and genealogical societies for over ten years with consistently excellent feedback. Her Illinois research is primarily in Chicago and Livingston County.  Other areas of family research are Eastern Prussia, Germany, Norway and the British Isles. Caron belongs to several local and regional genealogy groups as well as being a member of the Anan Harmon Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution; the Genealogical Speakers Guild and a Professional Member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. She is currently Society Liaison for the Illinois State Genealogical Society; Facilitator for the Chicago Region of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and Web Master for the Chicago Genealogical Society. She previously held Board positions at the Illinois State Genealogical Society, the Chicago Genealogical Society and CAGGNI (the Computer-Assisted Genealogy Group of Northern Illinois). Caron Primas Brennan blogs as Your Cousin Caron.

Sharon Reif, Chair of Publications Committee

Prior to 2007, Sharon was a genealogy research volunteer for the LDS Naperville Library and board member of the Oak Brook Historical Society. She posted over 10,000 burials in FindaGrave.com as a community project. In 2008, Sharon published a family history book of her mother’s Sicilian heritage.  Sharon earned a Certificate of Genealogical Research from Boston University in 2010, and completed the Pro-Gen 11 program in May of 2012. Sharon has owned an online business since 2016 called AncestorStuff.com. She supplies individuals, societies and public libraries with history and genealogy references at discount pricing. Being the Publications Chairperson for the Illinois State Genealogical Society fits nicely into her personal interest of published genealogy resources. Her spouse’s ancestry is deep-seeded in the counties of Franklin, Adams, Hancock, Schuyler, Bureau, Perry, Pulaski, Ogle, Stephenson and Whiteside counties of Illinois.