By Kate Smith

FOCUS 2023

NGS is expanding its support of organizations through a new FOCUS event held in conjunction with the 2023 Family History Conference in Richmond, Virginia. On Wednesday, 31 May 2023, FOCUS will offer specialized sessions for societies and libraries/archives. Details and registration are on the conference website at

In previous years, the Focus on Societies program provided learning and engagement opportunities for society leaders. That purpose continues with FOCUS, 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 will begin with a luncheon that includes shout-outs (when representatives of organizations can tell everyone about successes in the past year) and a keynote on records preservation. The afternoon’s program will have nine sessions to choose from and wrap up with time together to ask final questions, talk about what was learned, and hear about this year’s SLAM! Idea Showcase. The 2023 FOCUS sessions are as follows.


“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.


SESSION FS01 “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.

SESSION FS02 “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.

SESSION FS03 “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.


SESSION FS04 “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.

SESSION FS05 “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.

SESSION FS06 SESSION FS04 “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.


SESSION FL01 “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.

SESSION FL02 “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.

SESSION FL03 “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.

FOCUS will be followed by the SLAM! Idea Showcase program and reception and the opening of the Family History Conference Expo Hall. We look forward to seeing you on 31 May 2023 in Richmond for organization-focused events!

NGS Organization Member Discount

NGS member societies, libraries, archives, museums, and other institutions can register up to three leaders for the conference and FOCUS at the individual membership rate if those people are not members. Learn more about how organization members can use this discount at

Registration is now open at