Expanded FOCUS for 2023

Luncheon and Sessions for Society and Library Leaders and Volunteers

Wednesday, 31 MAY 2023

FOCUS 2023

Organizations are the backbone of our community and are an important source of information and knowledge for new and veteran genealogists and family historians. FOCUS offers opportunities to share successes and foster collaboration to make our community even stronger and support all in search of their personal stories.

What is FOCUS?

NGS grows its support of organizations through an expanded FOCUS event before the 2023 Family History Conference in Richmond, Virginia. On Wednesday, 31 May 2023, FOCUS will offer specialized sessions for societies and libraries/archives.

In previous years, the Focus on Societies program provided learning and engagement opportunities for society leaders. That purpose continues while adding ways for reference and information specialists to enhance their knowledge and abilities for serving genealogy patrons. FOCUS also gives organizations the chance to share ideas and best practices.

FOCUS Luncheon Keynote and Activities

FOCUS begins with a luncheon at Noon (ET).

  • “Preservation and Access: Digital Initiatives at the Archives of Michigan,” by Kris Rzepczynski—Learn about the collaborative process for a society, library, archive, or museum to prioritize, develop, maintain, preserve, and provide user access to a digital collection.
  • Shout-Outs—Representatives of organizations can tell everyone about successes in the past year.
  • Networking—Lunch is included in the registration fee for FOCUS and attendees will have the chance to connect while enjoying a meal together.

FOCUS Sessions

Attendees can choose three of the nine sessions available 2:00–4:45 p.m. (ET). Sessions are organized in three tracks. For the detailed schedule, please go to the conference schedule.


  • “Five Ways to Offer Your Society Quality Programming,” by Cheri Hudson Passey—Learn five ways to build and support membership with quality programming, from assessing the needs of your society to finding and working with a speaker.
  • “Minding the Future: The Key to Our Community’s Success,” by Matt Menashes, CAE—Hear about foresight and how societies can benefit from the practice. Menashes will discuss how genealogy organizations can improve education and strengthen diversity by working together.
  • “Using Technology to Supercharge Genealogy Societies,” by Ron Arons—Get tips on how to use technology to supercharge the operation and management of genealogy societies.


  • “Practically Perfect Partnerships: Creating Collaborative Partnerships Between Your Society and Other Organizations,” by Kathleen Kaldis—Behind every thriving organization are collaborative relationships among many organizations. Discover how engaging and collaborative projects become a win-win for your society.
  • “Considering the Consequences: When Your Society is Out of Order,” by Kristi L. Sexton—This session reviews the repercussions of not having a succession plan within the society and its board, with recommendations to ensure the future succession of your society.
  • “Your Society’s Management: Nonprofit Fundamentals,” by Judy Nimer Muhn—This presentation for board leaders and members includes the “four buckets” of nonprofit management and how they apply in the genealogy community.


  • “Serving Genealogical Researchers at Public Libraries,” by Ari Wilkins—Learn how to assist the different types of patrons who visit libraries and how to create programming based on your customers’ needs.
  • CANCELED – “Saving the Lost Years of Williamsburg: Virginia Gazette Newspaper Index 1893–1925,” by Rebecca Suerdick—Get inspiration for your next project from the story of two individuals who indexed years of forgotten newspapers and put them online for free.
  • REPLACEMENT – “FamilySearch Research Wiki and Other FamilySearch Resources for Librarians,” By David Rencher—FamilySearch has an array of different resources, many of which are underutilized by guests and librarians. Learn all of the features at FamilySearch to assist guests and mine the depths of our constantly growing data.
  • “Family History Resources at the Library of Congress,” by Tina Beaird—Enhance your knowledge with an overview of the history and collections of the Library of Congress and which resources are available online and in person.


The afternoon will wrap up with time back together to ask final questions, discuss what was learned, and hear about this year’s SLAM! Idea Showcase. The SLAM! Idea Showcase program and reception and the opening of the Family History Conference Expo Hall round out your day.

We look forward to seeing you on 31 May 2023 in Richmond for organization-focused events!

To Register

To register for FOCUS, go to the main registration page and complete your online registration. FOCUS registration is available to everyone interested in society and library issues. Conference registration is not required. Registration is $100 for members; $125 for non-members. Lunch is included.

Please email Kate Smith at ksmith@ngsgenealogy.org with questions about the 2023 FOCUS event.

Questions? Contact the NGS Registrar at registrar@ngsgenealogy.org