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The Genealogical Research Division of

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Our Instructors


Nancy Holden

B.A., University of Wisconsin, M.S., Pepperdine University; graduate work in Clinical Psychology and Human Development. Los Angeles Superintendent of Schools: Administrator; Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic: Special Education; Florence Crittendon, San Francisco: Administrator of Education.

In her retirement, Nancy volunteered at the National Archives Regional Branch-Laguna Niguel where she lectured on Jewish, Native American, and Eastern European Genealogy.

She was a Past-President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles and a Past President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Orange County; Past Editor of Shorashim, the JGS Orange County Newsletter; the creator of seven Kehilalinks websites for towns in Belarus and the Ukraine; Past Editor of Roots-Key, the Journal of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Los Angeles; worked as the Project Coordinator for the Belarus SIG.

During the past 15 years, she and Phyllis Kramer developed and expanded the JewishGen Education Department.

Lisa Ezrol Curran

After a career that has included consulting for growth stage companies, founding a trade organization for FinTech companies in Chicago, and many years in strategic planning and emerging technology at leading financial services institutions, Lisa began researching her family history in 2017. She has traced her roots back to Poland, Lithuania and Belarus and has found and reconnected with cousins from several “lost” branches of her family.

Her research has verified several family stories (yes, her great grandmother was cousins with Sidney Skolsky), and helped answer relatives' questions like, “Who were those really tall guys at my Bar Mitzvah?”

Lisa's passion for sharing her skills and knowledge led her to the JewishGen Education Team.

Larry Fagan

After a career spent researching and teaching about topics at the intersection of science and technology, Larry focused in retirement on genealogical research. He has used most major genetic genealogy sites and has met many new relatives through the DNA matching process.

Marjorie Geiser

After twenty years in business, which included speaking to audiences around the country and teaching virtual classes to professionals, when Margie retired in 2016, after several years of taking care of family and traveling the world, she ventured into genealogy in preparation for a trip to Poland.

She was soon immersed into learning all she could about genealogy, spending hundreds of hours in educational courses as well as webinars from genealogy societies, sometimes attending as many as fifteen webinars a month.

As someone used to organizing work as efficiently as possible, she put attention into how best to organize, plan and keep track of her work. Then, as a natural teacher, she started to teach others how to do the same.

Educational courses include University of Strrathclyde Glasgow’s Basic Genealogy course, multiple JewishGen courses and multiple courses on DNA.

Margie is a member of and the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society.

Barbara Krasner

AWA Certified Facilitator Barbara Krasner is a former contributing editor to Family Chronicle Magazine and Heritage Quest Magazine and the author of Discovering Your Jewish Ancestors (Heritage Quest, 2001). Her articles have also appeared in Ancestry, Genealogical Computing, Family Tree Magazine, Avotaynu, The Galitzianer, Russian Life, German Life, and other trade publications. She holds an MA in History from William Paterson University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her literary work based on family history has appeared in Jewish Literary Journal, Museum of Americana, Consequence, South 85 Journal, Gravel, The Smart Set, The Manifest-Station, Poor Yorick, and other literary journals. She is a former member of the boards of directors of both Jewish Records Indexing - Poland and Gesher Galicia. By day, Krasner, a PhD candidate in Holocaust & Genocide Studies at Gratz College, teaches in the Holocaust & Genocide Studies program at The College of New Jersey and serves as Director, Mercer Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Education Center housed at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey.

Amy Mitchell

Amy Mitchell has worked in creative industries as a production manager, graphics producer and writer/editor. She has also taught undergraduate level courses in a variety of film studies topics. Her obsession with genealogy only recently began, when she took her first DNA test for something fun to do during the pandemic. Since then, she has not only uncovered the origin town of her family surname, but traced her mother’s side back to the Puritan migration in the late 1600s.

Susan Rand-Lakritz

Intrigued by an email from an acquaintance who thought they were distantly related, Susan began filling in her family tree and was soon hooked on genealogy. Eventually she got to a branch that had long been a mystery. What had happened to her great-grandfather’s brother who had emigrated to South Africa? What had been his name? From what town was he and her direct ancestors?

These questions brought Susan to tentatively enroll in her first JewishGen class and to being exposed to the wealth of resources available there. The research skills and tools she acquired led her to solve the family mystery and to find descendants of her great-grandfather’s brother. She is honored to now be part of the JewishGen Education team, helping others uncover their past in order to leave a legacy for the future.

April Stone

April started her genealogy journey in 2009 after a career as a biologist and chemist. She knew nothing about her Jewish ancestors, but her dream was to unlock the puzzle of that family lineage.

In her first JewishGen class, with the help of her instructor, she quickly discovered that her ancestors changed their surnames… FOUR separate times!

However, it was ten years later, when more records became available, that she was finally able to find the documentation that supported these changes.

She now has the privilege to give back by helping others pursue their genealogy goals.

In her free time, April enjoys time with her family, gardening, and volunteering at the Animal Shelter. She also struggles to wrangle an out-of-control cat.

Barbara Rice

Barbara started her genealogical journey while planning her American-born grandmother’s 100th birthday celebration. Census and other records confirmed all the vital information her grandmother remembered and Barbara started to research additional branches of her family. A connection from an Ancestry tree turned out to be a 2nd cousin 1X removed who knew her grandmother well. She remembers the thrill she felt when she uncovered her other grandmother’s passenger record into the United States as a 6 year old, something her grandmother never spoke about.

These research experiences led Barbara to sign up for JewishGen classes with Phyllis Kramer where she learned to extract all the details from records and discovered unknown family branches in the US. Spellbound by genealogical research, Barbara joined Phyllis Kramer’s Galician research class and discovered records in Galicia for her family. Additional educational experiences include Basic Genealogy at the University of Strathsclyde and research at the Center for Jewish History in New York. Barbara enjoys solving puzzles and research so genealogy is a natural fit for her interests. She enjoys guiding others to make their own genealogical discoveries.

Wendy Starr

Wendy is an attorney who stopped practicing law in 1999 to focus on writing and editing. She has served as a senior editor at a legal publishing company and as a knowledge management specialist at a major international law firm. She is currently a marketing writer/editor at a national law firm.

Wendy began researching her family history in the mid-1990s, and she continues to make new discoveries, expand her family tree, and connect with newly found cousins. She is pleased to be part of JewishGen’ s Education Team and to assist with enhancing JewishGen’ s educational materials.

Marion Werle

Marion Werle began family history research 25 years ago, researching family from Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus, who settled in the US, Canada, UK, and Israel. She has been on the boards of JGSLA and JGSCV (Conejo Valley/Ventura County) and is a past president and founding member of the Latvia SIG (Special Interest Group). She is currently on the board of the revitalized JewishGen Latvia Research Division. A retired IT professional with master’ s degrees in both European History and Library Science from UCLA, she has written two unpublished family histories. One, The Skuders from Skud, traces her Litvak grandmother’ s family. She successfully completed the Boston University Genealogical Research Certificate and recently completed the ProGen study group. She has an ongoing interest in applying general genealogical methodology standards to Jewish research. She is a member of the JewishGen Latvia and Belarus Research Divisions, as well as the Litvak SIG. Marion has also spoken at several IAJGS conferences and local genealogical societies in the Southern California area. She was a member of the Southern California Genealogical Society Writers Group for several years, which gave her the opportunity to hone her family history writing skills.

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