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2021 CGSI Conference Speakers

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CGSI is proud to present the 2021 Conference speaker lineup. These presenters are from various locations, including the Czech and Slovak Republics.

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Lisa Alzo
Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A. grew up in Duquesne, Pennsylvania. She is the author of eleven books and hundreds of magazine articles. Lisa has served on the Board of Directors for CGSI and is a regular contributor to Naše rodina.
Gabriela Bereghazyova
Gabriela Bereghazyova, PhD is an expert in corruption and the Slovak mentality, as well as a 3x published author. She completed her education in Slovakia, and in the United Kingdom, which allows her to present the complexity of Central…
Diana Bigelow
As a retired research biochemist, Diana Bigelow brings a penchant for data analysis to her family history studies, an approach that has yielded fascinating insights into the nature of the way of life of her Czech ancestors in their pre-…
Marek Blahuš
Marek Blahuš is a Czech (Moravian) IT scientist, computational linguist, genealogist, polyglot and Wikipedian. His interest in genealogy was sparked by distant Chicago-Czech relatives at the age of thirteen.
Iveta Blahútová
Iveta Blahútová is a Genealogy Research Analyst at the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri.  She is a moderator of the German Genealogy Group, creates the German e-newsletter ‘The Schrift’, and regularly presents various…
Renata Calfa
Renata Calfa was born in Slovakia, into a family with Zemplin and Rusyn heritage. Her love for both was always evident. Sing a (an old folk) tune, and she would join you with the speed of light! Most of her childhood was during communism.…
Kate Vasicek Challis
Kate Vasicek Challis is a fifth generation Texas Czech now living in Ankeny, Iowa. Kate has a BA from Brigham Young University in French teaching with a minor in teaching English to speakers of other languages K-12, and she speaks French…
Helene Cincebeaux
Helene Baine Cincebeaux is the Founder/Director Slovak Heritage & Folklore Society International (1985); Editor “Slovakia” magazine (131 issues); Co-founder Moravian Heritage Society, Editor "Morava Krasna" (60 issues); Slovak Pride…
Anna Cooková
Anna Cooková is Owner & Founder of CzechTalk, LLC, a company specializing in Group and Private Czech Language and Culture lessons online and in the translation of old letters and journals from Czech to English.  Anna has presented…
Ann Vojta Cramer
Ann Vojta Cramer is a member of Sokol Milwaukee.  She is in charge of their baking sessions. The volunteer bakers meet to bake for the Milwaukee Holiday Folk Fair and the annual Sokol Milwaukee Czech Dinner.  Ann feels it is important for…
Mark Dillon
Mark G. Dillon is First Vice President of CGSI, and a fourth generation Slovak-American with family in Kúty, Slovakia and in Poland. Mark grew up in New Jersey and heads the quarterly programming efforts at CGSI. He has been a…
Evelyn Funda
Evelyn Funda is author of the memoir Weeds: A Farm Daughter’s Lament, which traces her family’s immigration from Bohemia and Moravia to a small farm in southwestern Idaho. Drawing upon her experience of sorting through possessions in her…
Joe Gayetsky
Joe Gayetsky, a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a degree in History, has researched extensively into understanding the practicalities of the emigrant experience.  His work is centered mainly on building a greater…
Bob Heck
Bob Heck began his genealogy research over 50 years ago after asking his grandmother to tell him about The Old Country. Bob is a founding member of the Milwaukee Personal Ancestral File Users Group (MPAFUG). Today the group has 500 members…
Kevin Kittilson
Kevin Kittilson has been actively doing genealogy for almost 50 years. He was an early adopter of DNA for genealogy. He is a member of CGSI and currently serves as its library chair. Kevin received a B.A. double-majoring in Anthropology…
Michael Kopanic
Professor Michael Kopanic is an Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Maryland Global Campus and earned degrees from Youngstown State, Notre Dame, and the University of Pittsburgh.  He administers two Facebook sites -- Learning…
Carl Kotlarchik
Carl Kotlarchik has been an avid genealogist for over fifty years. His recent research emphasis has been on the military records and history of his Slovak families. After publishing a book in 2011 about his family, he began a blog on how…
Miroslav Koudelka
Miroslav Koudelka studied Czech, History and English, with a higher degree in Czechoslovak History. Professional genealogist since 1993. Has performed hundreds of Czech ancestry research projects for individuals from the US and other…
Stepanka Korytova Magstadt
Stepanka Korytova Magstadt, Ph.D., a Czech native, earned her degrees in England, the USA, and the Czech Republic. Among her primary scholarly interests are migration, social justice, and human trafficking. Her To Reap a Bountiful Harvest…
Daniela Šipková Mahoney
Daniela Šipková Mahoney was born in Prague where she studied international business and foreign languages.  She came to the U.S. in 1982.  Daniela cherishes her Czech heritage and has developed educational programs emphasizing preservation…
Ron Matviyak
Ron Matviyak follows a lifelong fascination with East Central Europe, happily seeking little-known history of the region and peoples. Frequent travels to the Carpathian region since 1970, ten years working in Europe, and close family ties…
Joan McGuire Mohr
Joan McGuire Mohr is a United States historian and writer in military history, historical fiction, and biography. As an expert in US. Immigration/Czech and Slovak History, she unearthed information on the Czech and Slovak Legion’s trek…
David Muhlena
David Muhlena received his B.A. in modern European history and his Masters in Library and Information Science degrees from the University of Iowa.  He has served as Library Director at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library…
Greg Nelson
Greg Nelson is the Content Strategy specialist for East Europe, Central Asia, India, and various US States at FamilySearch. His moonshot goal is to reconstitute all of the families in his ancestral homelands of England, Scotland, Denmark,…
Martin Nekola
Dr. Martin Nekola, Ph.D. received his doctorate in political science at the Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. His research is focused on the history of Czech communities in the USA. He is the member of Association for Slavic,…
Zuzana Palovic
Zuzana Palovic, PhD was born during the final years of the Iron Curtain. Dr. Palovic's family fled the communist regime as political refugees, finally becoming naturalized citizens in Canada. Dr.
Antje Petty
Antje Petty is the Associate Director of the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She connects the Institute with communities across the state and beyond through presentations, workshops…
Dennis Ragan
Dennis Ragan is a Slovak enthusiast who has been teaching online CGSI-sponsored Slovak language classes for three years. Previously, he taught Slovak courses in classrooms for 17 years and also a popular culinary class – “How to make Real…
Michal Razus
Michal Razus is a professional genealogist, researcher and a tour guide with a great passion in Slovakia. Since 2009, he is a representative of CGSI (Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International) for Slovakia and a regular speaker on…
Molly Schweinfurter
Molly Schweinfurter took an elective history course in college that sparked her interest in local and family history. That spark has led to a passion Molly has pursued for over twenty-five years! An independent historian and genealogist,…
Carol Jean Smetana
Carol Jean Smetana is the editor of Heritage Happenings, the newsletter of Friends of Bohemian National Cemetery (friendsofbnc.org) and was the designer/primary author of A Dear and Precious Heritage: Bohemian National Cemetery, Chicago,…
Karen Varian
Karen Varian is the current President of the Rusin Association of Minnesota, a Carpatho-Rusyn Society Trustee, and member of the Carpatho-Rusyn Consortium of North America. Karen has held leadership roles in the Friends of the Immigration…
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