Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Friday, February 3, 2023

Silver Tray Award 2023: Debbie Parker Wayne


The Silver Tray Award is given by the Utah Genealogical Association for scholarly contributions to the field of genealogy and family history. Since 1988, it has traditionally been given for publication efforts. This year’s Silver Tray Award goes to a true pioneer in the area of genetic genealogy. UGA is profoundly honored to present the Silver Tray Award posthumously to Debbie Parker Wayne.

Many here have learned how to apply insights from DNA results to genealogical research and proof arguments from Debbie through the several institute courses and conference presentations she taught over the years. Many more have read and benefitted from reading Genetic Genealogy in Practice, which she co-authored with Blaine Bettinger, and Advanced Genetic Genealogy, which she edited and for which she wrote a chapter using a case study to demonstrate how to combine evidence from autosomal DNA and Y-DNA. For years, she wrote columns on using DNA analysis for the National Genealogical Society Magazine and for the Stirpes journal of the Texas State Genealogical Society.

Debbie was a former trustee and secretary for the Board for Certification of Genealogists, a trustee of BCG’s Education Fund, a former board member for the Association for Professional Genealogists, and a past president of APG’s Lone Star Chapter.

Debbie passed away on 7 January 2022. She is deeply missed.

Utah Genealogy Assosiation Fellow Award (FUGA) 2023: Jill N. Crandell

 The Utah Genealogical Association Fellow Award is given in recognition of those living individuals whose distinguished contributions and ongoing commitment to the field of genealogy are of national or international scope. This may be evidenced by any combination of publications, teaching and speaking, or leadership of major genealogical organizations over a significant period of time. We are excited to recognize Jill N. Crandell, AG with the UGA Fellow Award.

Jill is a well-known teacher, speaker, author, and leader. She is a pioneer in creating and leading genealogical organizations. She was one of the three founding commissioners of the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists, or ICAPGen, and she has served as ICAPGen’s president, commissioner, executive secretary, treasurer, and conference committee member. Jill was also a founding director and treasurer of the international organization, the Association of Genealogy Educators and Schools, or AGES.

Jill has been instrumental in her service to the Utah Genealogical Association and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. She served as SLIG director in 2000-2001 and assistant SLIG director in 1999. She has been UGA’s treasurer, executive secretary, recording secretary, and board member.

For nearly twenty years, Jill has been a faculty member of the Brigham Young University History Department. During that time, she has served on scholarship committees and the Student Mentoring and Recruitment Committee, supervised student internships, and served as Director of the Center for Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University for the past twelve years.

In addition to teaching at BYU, Jill has taught at the National Genealogical Society Conference, the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference, the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, SLIG’s Academy for Professionals, family history conferences at BYU and BYU-Idaho, ICAPGen’s annual conference, the LDS Women’s Conference, the UGA annual conference, and RootsTech.

She has written for the National Genealogical Society Quarterly journal, the NGS Magazine, and Genealogy magazine, and she wrote a chapter about the history of accreditation for the book Becoming an Excellent Genealogist: Essays on Professional Research Skills. She has presented papers at symposiums for the Mormon History Association and the Mormon Trail Center and the City of Council Bluffs.

Jill has been a spokesperson for genealogy on news and radio stations, including KBYU, KUTV, KSL TV, KSL Newsradio, and Fox 13. She has also been involved in the management, design, and programming for at least eight different websites. She is the developer and president of ResearchTies, LLC, which is an online genealogy research log.

 Jill's work has influenced countless genealogists, increased credibility for the genealogy profession, and fostered public awareness of the positive impact of genealogy research.

Presidential Citation 2023: Family Tree DNA


The Presidential Citation is given in recognition of outstanding contributions by a non-UGA member to UGA’s projects and/or objectives. This year, the Presidential Citation is presented to Family Tree DNA.

Family Tree DNA was founded in the year 2000 and has pioneered the field of genetic genealogy. As leaders in the industry, they provide advanced technology for users to gain further insight into their family history. They were the first direct-to-consumer genetic genealogy company, taking DNA testing for ancestry out of academia and into mainstream culture.

Family Tree DNA continues to establish standards and create new milestones in the rapidly growing field of genetic genealogy. They are the only company to offer all three types of genetic tests – autosomal, mitochondrial, and Y-DNA, and they have over 11,000 group projects run by volunteers who focus on a wide range of genealogical, geographical, and haplogroup areas of research. Family Tree DNA believes in an informed community and in providing genealogists with opportunities to understand DNA testing and how it can benefit them.

The mission of UGA is to provide genealogical information, sources, and education through personal instruction and published media on family history topics, while promoting high standards and ethical practices. As part of furthering its mission, UGA sponsors a special interest group called UGA DNA. Family Tree DNA is a long-time supporter of UGA DNA, the Utah Genealogical Association, and the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy. We are grateful for all that Family Tree DNA does to support UGA and promote our goal to educate people about ways to use DNA as a tool in genealogical research.

Chapter Service Award 2023: Michael Strauss, AG


The Chapter Service Award is given in recognition of outstanding service to or for a UGA Chapter. This year, the Utah Genealogical Association is pleased to present the Chapter Service Award to Michael Strauss, AG, who recently retired as co-chair of UGA’s Virtual Chapter.

The Virtual Chapter meets monthly over Zoom and is open to all UGA members. This unique chapter allows UGA members throughout the state and country to gather and learn. 

Michael Strauss began his service on the UGA Board in 2017 and served as a board member for five years, until 2022. During this entire time, he served within UGA’s Virtual Chapter in some capacity or another. He was assistant committee chair in 2017 and 2018 and a committee chair from 2018 through 2022. Michael organized a virtual chapter meeting every month for its members. Under his leadership, the Virtual Chapter has grown in numbers and become a place where genealogists from all over the country and beyond can network, learn, and grow together.

Michael is an Accredited Genealogist and works as a Research Manager for Ancestry ProGenealogists in Lehi, Utah. He has a bachelor’s degree in history and is a published author, in addition to being a veteran of the United States Coast Guard. He is a court qualified expert witness in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia in matters of forensic investigation. Michael has been a faculty member for several years at SLIG, GRIP, and IGHR where he coordinates the military research courses. 

Award of Merit 2023: Gena Philibert-Ortega


For the outstanding service that Gena Philibert-Ortega has given to the Utah Genealogical Association we are please to recognize her with UGA's Award of Merit.

UGA presents the Award of Merit to Gena for her many years serving as the editor of UGA’s Crossroads magazine. She first joined the Crossroads committee in April 2011 and, within a few months, became Crossroads editor for the June issue. Continuing through the Summer 2022 issue, she led as the editor for forty-four issues. Over that time, Crossroads evolved and included themed issues, such as issues focusing on the Civil War, food, and youth, added papers from the annual Colloquium, and began the section “Crossroads for Kids.” Gena’s favorite thing about being an editor was the ability to give new writers the opportunity to be published. Her writers spanned from teenagers to retirees looking to start a new career in genealogy. In addition, she has served on the UGA Board and has taught and coordinated several courses for SLIG. Gena's overall contributions to Crossroads and UGA in general have been immeasurable.

Outside of her service with UGA, Gena is an author, researcher, and instructor focusing on genealogy, social history, and women’s history. She holds two Master’s degrees: in interdisciplinary studies (psychology and women’s study) and in religion. Her published works include two books, numerous articles published in print and online, and six editions of the Tracing Your Ancestors series from Moorshead Publishing. Her writings can be found on her blogs: Gena’s Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera, as well as on the GenealogyBank and Legacy Webinars blogs. She has presented to diverse groups worldwide, including through the Legacy Family Tree Webinar series.  Her current research includes women’s repatriation and citizenship in the twentieth century, foodways and community in fundraising cookbooks, and women’s material culture.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Summit of Excellence: Climbing to New Heights in Genealogical Education


The next week the Utah Genealogical Association is proud to host its annual conference, the Summit of Excellence. A multi-track four-day event, the conference will feature speakers in 50 sessions on a wide range of genealogical topics. Building from last year’s celebration of UGA’s 50th anniversary, this year’s conference theme is Climbing to New Heights and focuses on celebrating UGA’s mission to help genealogists reach “new heights” in skills, knowledge, methodology, and professional development through quality educational resources.

In this effort the conference will highlight a “Basecamp” day on Wednesday, September 14th focusing on fundamental skills for all genealogists which is free to attend. This will be followed by three more jam-packed days of genealogy topics ranging from methodology to storytelling, and ethnic research to migration.

Headlining the entire conference, the Summit of Excellence is excited to announce the Angela Packer McGhie, CG, FUGA will be giving a Keynote address, “Climbing to New Heights in Genealogical Education.” A long-time partner in UGA’s many educational endeavors, Angela will highlight building an educational plan as a genealogists and resources available to climb to new heights. Anyone, beginner to advanced researcher, looking to create educational goals and learn to expand their research knowledge will want a front row seat to hear Angela’s address and learn from a member of our community that has dedicated herself to genealogical education. The Keynote will follow “Basecamp Day” on Wednesday, September 14th at 6:00 PM MT.

Don’t miss your chance to attend the Keynote, and all the amazing educational experiences to be found at the Summit of Excellence. Registration is open until Monday, September 12th at 11:59 PM MDT. Register now at or find full conference details at


Angela Packer McGhie, CG, FUGA has a passion for teaching genealogy. She is the Education Director of the National Genealogical Society and a trustee of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. Angela enjoys coordinating courses for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, as well as teaching at other genealogy conferences and institutes.

Angela served as the administrator of the ProGen Study Program for six years and is now on the board of directors. She is a past chapter president of the Association of Professional Genealogists and currently serves as a trustee for the BCG Education Fund. She has published articles in UGA’s Crossroads magazine, the APG Quarterly, and the NGS Magazine.