Meet the New VGA President: Jeanette Sheliga

Hello! My name is Jeanette Sheliga and I am going to become VGA’s new President starting January 2022!

My interest in genealogy started early in my life as I remember when I was about ten years old that I would draw family trees at my grandparents. I even remember making a few “cold calls” to people with similar surnames in the phone book when I was about twelve years old (because they had to be related, right?!)!

My first formal genealogy education was in 2002 when I took a twelve-week online course through the local adult education program. That was when I first learned about record groups like vital records, land records, and the census. I remember the instructor talking about how it was a very exciting time in genealogy as the 1930 US census was about to be released! Here we are 20 years later… #1950Census!

Though it was a time where technology was really changing how to research and connect with other genealogists and distant cousins, I certainly remember going to the library in 2002 and using SOUNDEX to find family on microfilm. I feel that I have roots in the “old ways” of conducting research that helps me appreciate the ease in which so many documents are accessible today.

I began genealogy lecturing in 2011 at my local library which turned into a club that continued to meet under my leadership for ten years. From that, I began giving presentations at local societies and organizations. I became a Board Member and Program Chair for my local society and still hold those positions today.

In 2018, I started on a path towards becoming more serious about my genealogy journey. I attended my first institute (GRIP – Documentation with Tom Jones), visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and attended my first national conference in Fort Wayne, IN for the FGS Conference. What a wonderful summer that was!

Since then I have continued to pursue my genealogy education by taking various other courses, institutes, watching webinars, reading books, listening to podcasts, and going through the ProGen Study Group (ProGen 49 completed August 2021).

I have given many genealogy presentations over the years. Education has always been important to me as it is also my day job (I am an elementary band teacher). Due to the COVID pandemic, I have been able to continue to give presentations virtually all over the United States and one in Canada. This led to me officially launch my own genealogy lecturing business in January 2021 called Jeanette’s Genealogy (https://jeanettesgenealogy.com/).

I am so excited to become the new VGA President and take this journey with all of you! I am also so grateful to my friends Katherine Willson, who created VGA and was the President for three years, and Dan Earl, the current VGA President, for all that they have done to make VGA what it is today and entrusting me with this organization. They have both offered up whatever help that I might need and I plan on taking them up on all the advice that they can share to keep VGA going for many years to come.

Pictured above are Sunny Morton, Katherine Willson, and I at Greenfield Village (July 2021) and Dan Earl and I at the FGS Conference in DC (August 2019).

Thank you for taking the time to read this genealogy biography to get to know me. I live in Lockport, NY (near Niagara Falls) and if you are ever in my area and would like to hang out, please reach out to me! I would love to meet up with members in person.

If you have any VGA questions, comments, suggestions, etc., please reach out to info@virtualgenealogy.org. I am working on putting together a wonderful group of people to help manage VGA and we have already received so many amazing program proposals for 2022. I can’t wait to start this journey with all of you!

Jeanette Sheliga
VGA President
(starting January 2022)

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