Presenters Bios

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Marsha has been gathering and researching Family History for over forty years and loves to help others, especially beginners! She is a frequent speaker at various genealogy groups.

Al Rhetta Anderson
AlRhetta Anderson grew up in the Salt Lake Valley, where she was introduced to family history as a teen by her aunt who would take her along on visits to the Salt Lake Genealogy Library - lifelong sparks of interest in family history were ignited. After moving to Arizona, her mother included her in the search for ancestors, keeping the sparks burning. AlRhetta started full time family history research when she became a volunteer at the Mesa Family Search Library in 2012; the Library's training program was incredible. Her special interest is doing descendancy research, or finding cousins, and loves to teach anyone what she has learned.

A. LeRoy Atkins has completed three genealogical semesters at Monterey Peninsula College and Salt Lake Community College. He has studied at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy for seven years and at the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research at Samford University in 2010. He has been an avid genealogist for 57 years and is continuing his genealogical education. He served as a missionary at the Mesa Regional Family History Center for 18 months and is currently serving as a mentor on the Land and Probate Committee. Mr. Atkins specializes in solving genealogical problems through the use of land and probate records.


Pat lives in the Castlegate Ward, Queen Creek East Stake. She is currently serving as the Stake Indexing Director and she helps recruit and train indexers and arbitrators. She has 5 children and 20 grandchildren and enjoys spending time with them. She also enjoys doing Family History research and working at the Family Search Library.


Darlene was born and raised in SLC, Utah but has lived in Arizona with her husband and six children for most of her married life. She has had an interest in family history ever since she was a teenager, but did not become actively involved until after her children were grown and married. She is now retired from an administrative professional and has been at the Mesa Family History Center as a missionary and volunteer for more than 5 years. She especially enjoys using computers for research and helping patrons get their genealogy organized.
Carolyn has been researching her family since 1979. She has published seven family history books and three genealogy guides. Carolyn is the founder, chairman, and newsletter editor of the Bouse Genealogical Society, Bouse, Arizona. She has been presenting genealogy seminars and workshops for over 25 years. Carolyn was elected to Who’s Who of American Women in 1989. She is the recipient of the 2012 AzGAB Founders Award and the 2013 NGS Award of Merit


Denise Crawford was born in Ft. Bragg, CA and has been an Arizona resident since 1980. She has always been interested in genealogy and has been actively researching her family for twenty years. Denise has been on the staff at the Mesa FamilySearch Library for the last 12 years. She assists patrons and provides training on immigration, naturalization, census, Internet research and enjoys opportunities to give community presentations. Denise is a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, National Genealogical Society and First Families of Knox County, Ohio. Her favorite online database is the Historical Records Collection on and contributing to Find A Grave is her passion.
Paul Duffey has been doing genealogy for many years, and has 4,600 relatives In his database, including Adam and Eve. He is leader of the DNA special Interest groups of the Pima County Genealogy Society and is State Genealogist for Sons of the American Revolution. He has visited living relatives in Ireland and Germany. He has published 3 books of family history.
Paul has had his own DNA done, 67 markers of the Y or male DNA and HVR1 and HVR2 of the mitochondirial or maternal DNA. He discovered how to decode the results from Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. He has given DNA presentations to ASGS, Saddlebrook GS, Green Valley Genealogy Society, Sunflower Genealogy Club, SAR, Sun City Vistoso genealogy group, Casa Grande Genealogy Workshop, Yuma Annual Genealogy workshop, Gilbert Arizona genealogy club, and Pike’s Peak GS (Colorado Springs). He brings results from others to demonstrate what can be found using DNA.



Carma Lee has been journaling, writing and collecting family stories for 50 years. This love led her to serving at the Mesa Family History Center where she has immersed herself in learning about family history research, specializing in FamilySearch and the Family History Research Wiki. She loves helping others by sharing her knowledge.

Madeline has helped with Family History since she was a small child at her mother’s knee.  As she grew she took more responsibility in her own family history.  Her personal family history journey began in 2005 and 2006.  She was the Assistant director of the Philadelphia, PA Family History Center.  She took a two year break when she moved to Mesa and is now back to work – this time at the Mesa Family History Center.

My paternal grandmother died in 1999, she became my motivation to do our family history. In the past 10 years, I have focused my research more in my husband side of the family, since there were more records from Mexico than Colombia at that time. I really enjoy doing genealogy and finding more about my family. My research has giving us an understanding of who we are and to be grateful to those who came before us. I hope to help others with their research in Latin America, Spain, and the Caribbean or any other country with the knowledge that I am still acquiring.
Resident of Anthem, AZ after retiring from a great career with IBM.  Discovered the "fun" in researching family history more than 25 years ago.  His direct  paternal ancestry traces back to the 1660s in Quebec; additional research led to the discovery that he and his wife are 6th cousins!
An archaeologist by training (B.A., and M.A.), Emily Garber has been researching her Jewish ancestry since 2007 and holds a certificate from Boston University's Genealogical Research program. In 2013 she traveled to Ukraine to visit archives and family villages. Emily is a blogger (, chair of the Phoenix Jewish Genealogy Group and owner of Extra Yad Genealogical Services.

Katie Gertz started Kate’s Computer Clinic in January 2000 after an early retirement from AT&T. Katie has a BS and an MBA in Business Administration. Kate’s Computer Clinic services residential and small business clients. Her business includes making "house calls" to set up new computers, networks, repair/replace computer parts; in other words, anything relating to the personal computer. She is known to her customers as "Dr. Kate". Katie is extremely knowledgeable on both the Windows and Apple MAC platforms. She teaches Windows, iPad and MAC classes at many computer clubs around the Phoenix Metro area.
She is a Microsoft Partner, Technet and Action Pack member. She is also a Business Partner with Carbonite and Paragon Software. She is an Apple Ambassador for the Sunland Village East MACies and a Certified Apple Product Professional. Katie is currently serving as the President of the Arizona Alliance of Computer Clubs, President of the East Valley Chapter of the Family History Society of Arizona and Secretary of the Family History Society of Arizona. Her involvement in genealogy started just 5 years ago with the help of her neighbor. She is a guest lecturer at many genealogy clubs around the Valley and is listed in many genealogy Speakers Bureaus.

Pat Hewett was raised in Virginia and is a graduate of the University of Virginia.  Her thirty year interest in family history includes areas as Virginia, US Southern States and Sweden.  During the years 1995 - 1999 she and her husband served on temple and family history missions in Switzerland, Germany, Slovenia and Hungary.  She has served at the Mesa Family History Center since 2002 and presently resides in Mesa, Arizona.
Introduced to Family History as a teen by her mom. She is a wife, mother of 6 and grandmother to 17.
Retired after 25 years in the corporate world, now works from home allowing her to do things she enjoys, ie. family history. Her childhood interest grew to many years of research. She has served for 11 years at the Mesa Family History Center. She enjoys research, travel & digging into old records.
With an extensive computer background, is also very excited about the thrilling advances of technology in genealogy research.  She is a certified research consultant and loves working with individuals to help them in their family history pursuits.
Martha Petronella van der Wal Larsen was born in Hilversum the Netherlands. She had two living siblings, a pair of twins . She received her education in Hilversum and later on went to Amsterdam where she finished her higher education in Child Psychology and with an equivalent to a minor in Music.  She wrote a thesis about the function and influence of music in a child's life.  After graduation, she married Niels Brannick Larsen from Morenci, Arizona.  They lived in Mannheim Germany and Heidelberg, where their first two children were born. She is fluent in Dutch and German. In the US, she attended the University and graduated with a Degree in Education and additional studies in the field of Special Education. Genealogy has always been her special hobby. She has researched in the archives in the Netherlands, in Washington D C and also in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.


Joyce Reese McCollum, began her journey as a genealogist in 1985. After learning that both her maternal great-grandfathers, were Civil War Veterans of the United States Colored Troops. Since her early retirement, she has devoted her time to genealogy research. Ms. McCollum is Co-Administrator for, and
Ms. McCollum was part of a delegation that travelled to West Africa with the 7th great-grandchild of a documented 10 year old girl who was captured in 1756 and sold in Charleston to the Ball family. (See Attachment)

Lynn Melville currently serves as a Volunteer at the Mesa Family History Center where he also teaches classes for new staff members and patrons. He moved to Arizona from Northern California about 10 years ago following his retirement of over thirty-six years of service with the Federal Government. While in California, he was one of the charter members of the Silicon Valley Personal Ancestral File Users Group (now known as the Silicon Valley Computer Genealogy Group). Lynn lives in Gilbert, Arizona where he is Director of a smaller LDS Family History Center.
I believe that genealogy is serious fun! I love everything about it. In the last few years, I’ve rearranged my life in order to do family history full time and part of that equation is serving as a missionary at the Family History Center. I am resourceful, with a passion for keeping it simple. I would like to see more people interested in their ancestors and I love teaching those who are. I am a Dave Ramsey fan, Find A Grave enthusiast and BYU alumna. I am a wife, mother and grandmother.

Colleen currently serves on the Youth Committee at the Mesa Family History Center helping to develop and teach classes on Family History in an exciting and meaningful way to the youth and those who work with them. She enjoys seeing all the new technology opening doors of opportunity being grasped by the younger generation who will take it to new levels.


Sharon D. Monson is the founder of GenSearch and more, an author, and frequent conference presenter. She has extensive research experience in courthouses, archives, and the Family History Library spanning 30+ years. Her class presentations cover a wide range of research methods, useful tips, and unusual resources. Internet research sites available 24/7 present a unique challenge for Sharon – Search or Sleep? In this case, sleep never wins!
I was born in Pinon, Arizona on the Navajo Nation.  I am the son of Donald and Grace Mose and the  youngest of seven children.
After graduating from San Juan High, I attended  No. Pioneer College in Holbrook, AZ.  I currently work at Gateway Community College as a security dispatcher.  In my past, I enjoyed riding in  rodeos as a bronc rider until I had my accident.  That changed my whole talent around.
I discovered a new talent in family history and got involved in Native American research.  I have a strong desire to find my ancestors.  I have learned a lot about the 1800 history of Native Americans and about the  African Americans.  I am the chairman of the Native American, African American and Polonesian Committee.


Gordon has been involved in genealogical research since January 2010. He currently serves as a volunteer at the Family History Center in Mesa, Arizona. He has written a basic primer on French genealogical research. He is also experienced in locating vital records in the Wallonie area (French speaking) of Belgium. He reads and speaks French.


Polly has been an avid family historian for over 45 years and has had a background in management throughout her life. Serving as Director of a School of Nursing Educational Program gave her opportunity to use her education in managing and organizing ways to improve teaching techniques, which helped in later years as she worked in the legal environment as a Paralegal Supervisor.
She is an avid supporter of scouting and served in the program for over 25 years in Missouri and Arizona. She currently serves as a service missionary at the Mesa AZ Family History Center and is Chairman of the Youth Committee introducing new programs to assist youth in family research. She has written corporate and family history articles/documents, published and non-published. Her favorite pastime other than family research is fishing and reading a good history book.


Shirley is a native of OK with roots in NC, GA, TN, AR, and TX. She is Scotch-Irish, Welsh and has a splash of Native American with deep roots in W Tennessee and the Ozark Mtns of N Arkansas. She has 35 yrs of genealogy research experience and has served at the Mesa Family History Center for 19 years. Her genealogical expertise is: U.S. Military Records, Genealogy Research Analysis/Problem Solving, and Internet Research. She teaches and lectures at the library and in the communities where she has lived.
The past 5 yrs she has been a member of Find A Grave, contributing over 17,000 memorials.  It is one of her passions.


I was born in Heber City,Utah to an Educator/ Administrator Father and German Immigrant Mother.  Educated at the University of Utah in Business Administration and worked for over 35 years in the computer/data communications field. Ended my career in a start-up company in Arizona and retired in 2006 as Vice President of Global Sales after traveling over 3 million miles and visiting 52 countries.
Began genealogy during the mid 1960’s while living in Germany and have been involved in family history since then. Have served at the Mesa Family History Center since Dec. 2007 with a concentration on German & related research. I teach 30 classes per year in the community and enjoy helping others find solutions to brick walls.


Professional genealogist for the McClelland Irish Library at the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix, Cindy has been doing family history research for over 20 years. Prior to working at the Irish library, she had her own genealogy research business. She is a graduate of the ProGen Professional Genealogy program and has completed the Irish Genealogical Research course at Samford University’s Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research. She enjoys helping people navigate the complexities of Irish research and currently serves as Program Chairperson for the Paradise Valley Chapter of the Family History Society of Arizona.


Leone grew up in Utah. She traveled the world with her family, attended High School in Tehran Iran, graduated from USU, taught school in California, received MA degree from BYU, and eventually settled in Arizona when she met, and married, Richard. They have 6 extra-ordinary children and 16 fabulous grandchildren. After several years’ experience in extraction and indexing, she “caught the bug” and has a passion for finding her ancestors, “the search is exciting—the ‘find’ is incredible!” Currently, Leone serves as a missionary at the Mesa Family History Center.


Melba Preece was born in San Diego, California and began her love of family history at the age of 15.   She has been a Ward and Stake Family History Consultant for many years.   She teaches classes at the Mesa Family History Center and has given many lectures on the British Isles through-out the Valley.   She is also a volunteer and an active member of the British Isles Committee at the Mesa Family History Center for over 20 years.


Duane Roen has been tracing his roots since his teenage years, building a database with more than 32,000 ancestors. He and his wife, Maureen Roen, have also been recording their family history since 1978 by writing more than 15,000 daily journal entries on their children and other family members. Combining his professional and personal interests, Duane worked with colleagues to establish courses on writing and recording family history in the School of Letters and Sciences. He also is founding coordinator of the Project for Writing and Recording Family History in the School of Letters and Sciences. Although Duane loves family history, he spends most of his waking hours serving as Assistant Vice Provost for University Academic Success Programs for Arizona State University. He also serves as Interim Dean of University College and Interim Director of the School of Letters and Sciences


Mary Säfsten was raised in Mesa where she was trained in Family History at a very early age. She graduated from BYU, then married Robert Säfsten whose parents were both born in Sweden. Mary was trained in Swedish Genealogy Research to assis her husband research his family tree. 2008-2010 she served a mission at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. She divides her year between Mesa and Bellingham, Washington, where they raised their family of 12 children.


Robin Salthouse is a librarian at the Southeast Regional Library in Gilbert, Arizona. She currently teaches an introduction genealogy class, schedules monthly classes at the library and helps organize the Spring Genealogy Fair at the Southeast Regional Library. Robin has been dabbling in genealogy research for many years, but is always working to improve her research skills and build a solid family tree. She enjoys helping other enthusiasts use library resources and technology and collaborating with other Valley genealogy organizations.


- Born in Indiana and raised in Arizona.
- Graduated from ASU in Engineering.
- Served in the USAF as a Missile Launch Officer with Minuteman III ICBMs.
- Worked In the aerospace industry in engineering and management for over thirty years.
- Volunteer at the Mesa Family History Center since 2005.
- Married for 45 years with three children and three grandchildren


Susan Smith is a full-time Library Parapro in the Maricopa County Library District, currently employed at the Northwest Regional branch in Surprise. While working as a biological illustrator in the 1980s, she became addicted to genealogy and has been learning about it for 32 years. She started teaching monthly classes inBeginning Genealogy and Genealogy on the Internet at the Surprise branch in 2004 and at other libraries and local venues in 2007. She is constantly trying to keep up with the many changes in research methodology, resources, and technology, especially now with the advances in DNA testing and analysis and she hopes to present classes on it in the fall.



Melanie is the State Archivist & Director of the AZ State Archives, a Division of the AZ State Library, Archives and Public Records. She has a Ph.D. in history and is an avid genealogist and family historian. As an archivist who works with government records she is familiar with numerous primary sources that contain information about people. She has taught family and oral history workshops throughout the state of Arizona and has conducted over 100 oral history interviews ranging from family histories to interviews with the original residents of the first Sun City.


James L. Tanner B.A. Degree; Spanish, M.A. Degree; Linguistics, University of Utah. J.D. Degree; Law, Arizona State University. 2 years, Intelligence Analyst, U.S. Army. 39 years Arizona trial attorney. Over 32 years in genealogical research. Avid Blogger of Genealogy’s Star blog and Rejoice, and be exceeding glad. Eight years as a missionary at the Mesa, Arizona Family History Center. Presently serving at the BYU Family History Library. Presenter at Expos and Conferences around the U.S. and Canada. Previously owner of a retail computer business and an Apple Macintosh software company. Professional photographer. Seven children and 32 grandchildren.


Earliest genealogy memories are as a young boy helping his grandmother work on their genealogy on the living room floor. His love of genealogy and researching his ancestors has grown from using the living room floor to accessing information using the many digital tools and resources that we have at our fingertips today. Jim was born and raised in Southern California, graduated from ASU and raised his family in Mesa. He is a retired Architect and Decorative Artist. Currently he is serving at the Mesa FamilySearch Library.

Jean has always had an interest in knowing who her ancestors were and what their lives were like.  She began her quest to identify them when she was a teenager.  In addition, she loved computers from the first time they were invented.  By mixing these two loves she has been able to find many of her ancestors and has a better understanding of the things we need to know about them and where to find this information.  She currently serves as one of the web masters for the Mesa AZ Family History Center.