Sunday, March 26, 2017

NERGC Speaker Spotlight: Seema-Jayne Kenney

It is time for the New England Regional Genealogy Consortium's biennial genealogy conference. Four days of genealogical fun and learning will be found in Springfield's Mass Mutual Center April 26th to 29nd. This will be my fourth NERGC conference and I am looking forward to seeing lots of friends from near and far.

If you haven't seen the range of lectures, workshops, special interest groups, and exhibitors that are scheduled, get details and register at NERGC.

I was in touch with Seema-Jayne Kenney this week, who is both a presenter and one of the chairs who has led the planning for this event for the past two years. I asked Seema how long she has been involved in this conference. It turns out, we were both rookies in 2011 in Springfield.

She said, "My first NERGC conference as an attendee was in 2011, when it was in Springfield. After that conference, there was an email to the BU Alumni about helping with the 2013 conference.I replied, was interviewed, and was asked to organize Tech Day.For 2013 I was the Tech Day Chair.
For 2015 I was the chair for Tech Day and the onsite evaluations.When they said at a meeting, "Without a conference chair we will have to cancel the event," my hand went up to be a conference chair for 2017 - a bigger jump in responsibility than I intended, but how can you think about cancelling an event that draws almost 1,000 people?
Something I've done for each of these conferences is the post-conference data entry of the session evaluations.  Such an easy task and a very important way to help without missing any of the planned events."

Having taken on such an important responsibility, along with co-chair Dave Robison, I asked Seema why she also decided to present one of the talks during the regular sessions. She explained her thought process.

"Every Society that participates in NERGC is allowed to select a speaker to sponsor for the conference. I am a very active member of MSOG (Massachusetts Society of Genealogists). I submitted my proposal to their selection process and was selected. Each Society has it's own selection process and preferred topics. I thought the best topic for MSOG would be something specific to Massachusetts. Since MSOG created the Legacy Quick Guide for Massachusetts, I used the historical timeline in that publication to put together a talk on things that happened in Massachusetts that may not appear in those history books that tend to jump from Pilgrims to First Thanksgiving to Revolutionary War.  Many of the events had the potential to impact our ancestors' lives and hopefully those who attend will get an idea about reasons WHY an ancestor may have changed occupation or migrated or made other life changes."

I'm looking forward to attending her talk "Social History of Early Massachusetts" which Seema will present at 1:45 on Saturday afternoon, April 29.

Seema is a full-time genealogist, doing business as Seema-able. I asked her to tell me more about what she does away from organizing the conference. 

"My company is Ancestral Books, Legacy, & Education.  A long name, so it's abbreviated as ABLE. The A, B, and E represent the first initials of my known grandparents' surnames. Wouldn't it be hysterical if my missing grandfather's last name started with 'L'? Anyway, I started a genealogy business in 2010 as Mass Researchers. While researching for others is fun, it wasn't really my 'cup of tea'.  I found, in 2013, that I really like putting together the stories of one's ancestors, so I changed my focus to researchers who had done the work but didn't want to write up the family history book. I am a Certified Legacy Planner, which is geared toward helping the living keep their values alive within their family as well as their stories of relatives. And, of course, Education because after teaching software (again self-employed) for 20 years, switching over to teaching genealogical research was easy. My teaching is primarily done at Senior Centers, Libraries, and Adult Programs in my local area."

I'm glad to have gotten to know Seema a little better. My talk "Did Grandma Have a Fillin' Station?" is also on Saturday afternoon. I hope to see you in Springfield!


  1. I'm looking forward to that talk, too. A very intriguing topic.

  2. Thank you Seema for all the work you have done as Co-Chair for NERGC!

  3. Great article... it's good to see Seema via Sara's lens. Many people will be glad that hand was raised at the end of April. Congrats and good luck. See you at #NERGC2017
    - C Yvonne Hickey, VP MSOG