Illinois State Genealogical Society

Meet the ISGS Board Members


Candace Marx, President

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.




Tina Beaird, 1st Vice President

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.


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.  


Jacqueline Lyell, 2021 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. Jackie’s research areas are Williamson, Saline, and Cook counties in Illinois.

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. Personal research counties in Illinois include Pike, Adams, Schuyler, Lee, Peoria, and Sangamon. She 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 the former History & Genealogy Manager at the Lawrence J. Martin Heritage Center in Elburn, IL. She has been active as a genealogical presenter since 2012. She is a member of the APG, GSG, NGS, several other societies, and current Board member of the Kane County Genealogical Society. Laura earned the Certificate in Genealogical Studies from Boston University in 2014.


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.

Barbara McKean, 2022 Director

Barbara first joined the board of the Illinois State Genealogical Society in May 2012 as the Secretary. She continues to serve as a member of the Board of Directors, and has formerly served at the 2nd Vice President, Society Office Liaison, Chair of the Website and Nominations Committees, and member of the Education, Conference, and Policy & Procedure Committees. Barbara's interest in genealogy started when she inherited a pack of letters written between 1908 and 1915 to her great-grandfather, Herman Weber, from his family in Germany. Barbara belongs to DAR, the Mayflower Society of Illinois and genealogical societies in Greene County, IL and Killingsworth, CT. Her Illinois research focuses on Morgan, Greene and Bond counties.




Roseanne Freundt, 2023 Director

Roseanne’s genealogy journey began in 2009 after she went on a “roots tour” with her parents and brother in Chicago. 

Roseanne was born in Chicago and raised in the suburbs. She is a Reference & Genealogy/Local History Librarian at the Batavia Public Library. She plans programming for the Q&A Genealogy Program Series, teaches genealogy classes and assists patrons with genealogy and local history questions. She is a member of the Kane County Genealogical Society, the DuPage County Genealogical Society and the Luxembourg American Cultural Society.

 She has ancestors from Poland, Luxembourg and Germany. Roseanne’s Illinois research is focused in Cook and Livingston Counties. She lives in Elburn with her husband and three cats.


Liz Ross, 2023 Director

Liz started lecturing regionally in 2004. She developed and produced “2nd Saturday Genealogy” 2014-2019, and ran several workshops. Currently Liz volunteers with Purple Hearts Reunited, works on ISGS Education Committee, co-leads the Oak Park Gen Group, and serves on the CAGGNI GeneaQuest2020 committee (sponsor wrangler). She is a member of APG, NGS, CAGGNI, CGS and a few genealogical societies where ancestors lived

Formal education has included repeated national conferences, NGS, FGS & PMC, institutes, ISGS (2004), NIGR, & GRIP, and courses via the internet, Pro-Proof & CDG (Certified Discussion Group). In 2020, Liz has been able to join Pro-Gen, NGSQ Discussion Group, a short writing course, a DNA weekend, 3 institutes at GRIP (Citations, Land, & Lineage Societies) & SLIG in January.

Liz has been Chicago based for the last 30 years. Her mother’s side came to Chicago from Germany in the 1890’s. Her father’s side, by contrast, arrived during colonial times, or slightly after. His people were here for the Civil War, and a few came on the Mayflower. Liz focuses on the Midwest, especially federal land, on women and Civil War pensions, on methodology and organization. Genealogy360 is the name for her business.


Rachel White, 2023 Director

Rachel first discovered her love of genealogy in 2000. Rachel currently works full time in Chicago as a Billing Manager for a law firm, and founded her own company, Limping Pheasant Genealogy, in 2017, specializing in Illinois genealogy with an emphasis on Will County. In 2020, she earned a certificate for U.S. Genealogical Research from Salt Lake City Community College. Rachel serves on the Board of the Monee Historical Society, which was founded in 2011 after a successful campaign to save the Monee Creamery, a Will County Landmarked building in her hometown. She also serves as archivist for the cemetery at St. Paul’s Church in Monee which was founded, in part, by her ancestors in 1858. The cemetery was recently landmarked, largely due to Rachel’s research over the last ten years. 

Rachel lives with her husband Tom and two children in New Lenox. Each year, Rachel and mom Christi take a mother/daughter genealogy research trip. They visit relatives, historic sites, and local research depositories.


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.


Jaymie Middendorf, Honors & Awards Chair

Jaymie is a public librarian who specializes in genealogy and local history. She has a passion for helping people discover their ancestors and loves to see people excited about their family history. She holds a Certificate of Genealogical Research from Boston University. Jaymie has ancestors from Germany, Poland, Spain, and Denmark. Within Illinois, she focuses her research on Chicago, suburban Cook County, Franklin County, and Kendall County.