Three Days At #RootsTech2023 – Uniting

The theme for RootsTech 2023 is Uniting

It’s March 6th, and my feet are still tired. I got home Saturday from three days at #RootsTech2023 and logged 46,538 steps. I’m not complaining because I try to get at least 6,000 steps every day, and it’s helping me with my trend of making that goal. (I’m up to 18 days straight).

I say three days, but in fact, my RootsTech adventure started on Wednesday, February 28th, not because I arrived at Salt Lake City but because that evening, I went to the joint event of Diahan Southard and Nathan Dylan Goodwin.

The event was a murder mystery type dinner, but it was about #DNA and murder. It was called #GSI Genealogy Solved It. The evening event was held at Embers, and started with a buffet dinner, and after much chatter, we dug into DNA and murder.

We were all given a satchel that included Your DNA Guide the Book written by Diahan, and The Sawtooth Slayer, the latest book by Nathan, which is a part of his Ventor series, which are cases about investigative genetic genealogy. We also received a workbook to use at the event and other items.

Nathan and Diahan said they are considering having more of these events and may also do virtual events. (so stay tuned).

The idea for the evening was that your table of DNA investigators would work together, working through the workbook and all the clues we received and see if we could discover the killer in the case using DNA and genealogy. There were video updates and clues, stations around the room from the various DNA companies, DNA and genealogy tools, and little help from genealogist Rich Venezia from Rich Roots.

It was a lot of fun, and I’ll be looking over my material because, after all, in amongst the fun, we were being shown how to find someone through DNA.

Day One (March 1st)

I started the day off at the Expo Hall and Media Hub. After not seeing some of my genie friends since 2020, it was great to go around getting hugs. After all, that’s the theme of this year’s RootsTech Uniting.

RootsTech 2023 was a hybrid event that included live and virtual presentations. So if you choose to save your feet, you could enjoy the event from the comfort of your home, and all of us will be able to see the virtual presentations for years to come.

Jordin Sparks and emcee Kirby Heyborne

At 11:00 a.m. each day is the Keynote address. On March 1st, we had Jordin Sparks, who is a multi-platinum recording artist and actress who is the youngest person to win American Idol.

Also at the first keynote was Steve Rockwood, President and CEO of FamilySearch International. Steve’s love of family always shines through. He told of his daily chats with family on an app called Marco Polo, where he’s challenging his grandchildren to a push-up challenge, and how watching all the family videos each day is the highlight of his Mother’s day.

Here is Steve as he’s about to go live and share his pushup with his mom, children, and grandchildren.

Ancestry’s President and CEO, Deb Liu, and Chief Product Officer Heather Friedland were also there on the first day to introduce Ancestry’s newest addition to their app, Storymaker Studio.

Storymaker Studio Announcement

You can learn more about Storymaker Studio HERE, and I’ll be sharing my own videos and thoughts about this new product in the coming weeks.

Day One also consisted of doing three interviews with the RootsTech Team of Jen Allen, Brandon Beckstead, Jonathan Wing, Chief Genealogist for MyHeritage, Daniel Horowitz, and Catherine from Germanology.

I did go to a couple of sessions, though; one was Abandoned in a Train Station – A Foundling’s Search for Answers and DNA Journey – Follow Your Ancestor’s Path (sorry, neither of these was recorded, but you can find the handout in the RootsTech App). Then my friend Nancy and I went to the FamilySearch Library for a bit of research and finished the day with the rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Day Two (March 2nd)

Aspects of Adoption

Day two started much earlier because I wanted to attend my friends Jonny Perl, Dr. Penny Walters, and Marie Cappart presentation called. Aspects of Adoption, and it was during the power hour at eight o’clock. Each of the speakers provided information on psychology, genealogy and DNA tools and how they related to searching as an adoptee.

CeCe Moore, Mitch Morrissey and Mckell Keeney

Next was Investigative Genetic Genealogy: A Conversation with Industry Leaders which included CeCe Moore, Mitch Morrissey, former District Attorney of Denver and co-founder of United Data Connect, and conversation facilitator: Mckell Keeney. CeCe was live-streamed, and this was a fascinating presentation on investigative genetic genealogy.

The emcee, Kirby Heyborne, warmed up the crowd for the second Keynote session by talking to his cousins in the audience. Then we learned about an organization called Connect Our Kids which helps children who are in foster care reconnect with family.

The keynote address was Me Ra Koh, a photographer with an incredible story of her own resilience and how her company, Fioria, offers something called The Rising Phoenix Experience. To learn more, you can click HERE.

The keynote session ended with the VP of Marketing for MyHeritage, Aaron Godfrey, and the announcement of two new products at MyHeritage. The cM Explainer™ , Color Coding and the third installment of DNA Quest. Through DNA Quest, MyHeritage donates 5,000 free DNA kits to adoptees and people seeking family members placed for adoption. If you know someone that should apply, you can learn more HERE. (I will be sharing my own thoughts and videos about the cM Explainer and Color Coding in the coming weeks.)

I had one interview on Thursday with Troy Dunn, known to many as “The Locator”, who has been granting reunion wishes on national TV for over 30 years. We talked about his show and what he’s working on now.. Stay tuned for that video. HERE the link to his presentation from RootsTech.

Friday evening was spend with old friends and then a walk by the Salt Palace.

Salt Palace in Salt Lake City

Day Three (March 3rd)

Are your feet tired yet? Mine were, but there was still so much more to see. Again the day started early because my friend Nancy and I had to check out of our hotel and get to the Salt Palace in time for another power hour at eight a.m. I wanted to see my friends Cheri Hudson Passey, Laura Hedgecock, and Peggy Lauritzen speak on Becoming a Professional Genealogist: From Passion to Profit. (sorry this wasn’t recorded, but you’ll find the handout in the RootsTech App).

Then it was back to the Expo hall to finish off my search for my contest prizes that I wanted to get.

The third and final Keynote address time came quickly, and there were many children, as Saturday is always for children.

I thoroughly enjoyed Sean Austin, and I liked how grounded he was and that one of his daughters is interested in genealogy. I have watched him grow up in the movies he’s been in, and I have to tell you that Goonies is one of my favorite movies, but I love them all. You can watch his keynote interview with Kirby HERE.

We had been told that there was a special guest at the keynote and it was so good to hear the music of Adassa, the voice behind the Disney character Dolores (from Encanto), and Chad Truman, from the Nashville Tribute Band, and Truman Brothers group. The crowd all joined her when she sang “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” .

There was more to come in the afternoon, but I had to leave to catch our plane back to Arizona to see my dog, Cali.

I loved so many things at RootsTech 2023, and I’m pleased that I can watch online the sessions that I missed.

But the best part about RootsTech is all the friends I saw again. Friends I haven’t seen since the last in-person RootsTech in 2020.

On that note, my friend, Nancy, was able to connect in person with two cousins who were attending. I wasn’t that lucky, but for the first time, my “Relatives at RootsTech” showed that I had relatives attending. In fact, as of today, I have 105, and I’ll be able to make connections with them until March 31st.

Please save the date for next year’s RootsTech being held February 29 – March 2nd.

Cali was happy that I was home and we had a wonderful Sunday.