2017 CGSI Conference Speakers

 

CGSI is proud to present the 2017 Conference speaker lineup. These presenters are from various locations, including the Czech and Slovak Republics.

Lisa A. Alzo
Lisa A. Alzo

Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A. grew up in Duquesne, Pennsylvania. She is the author of ten books and hundreds of magazine articles. Lisa has served on CGSI’s Board of Directors and is a regular contributor to Naše rodina. She teaches online genealogy courses for Family Tree University and the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, and is an internationally recognized lecturer. She began lecturing at the CGSI’s 2001 Pittsburgh Conference. Lisa can be reached through her web site LisaAlzo.com.

Joel Brady

Dr. Joel Brady, since 2009 has taught in the University of Pittsburgh’s Departments of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Religious Studies, and History. He received his PhD in religious studies from the University of Pittsburgh (2012). His research interests and publications focus upon the history of transnational migration and ethnoreligious identification, especially Greek Catholic migrant converts to Orthodox Christianity in East Central Europe and the Americas.

Helene Cincebeaux
Helene Cincebeaux

Helene Cincebeaux, co-founded the Slovak Heritage & Folklore Society International (SH&FSI) in 1986 and has served as Director of the Society and Editor of the “Slovakia” quarterly. She served on the CGSI Board of Directors twice and was a frequent presenter at CGSI Conferences. Helene has led 86 tours to Eastern Europe in the past 28 years. She has produced 24 exhibits of the Baine/Cincebeaux Collection of Slovak & Czech Folk Dress. Helene is author of 4 books and 42 magazine articles.

Richard Custer
Richard Custer

Richard Custer was a founder of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society in 1994 in Pittsburgh and served as editor of its New Rusyn Times newsletter 1994-2015. He is the author of scholarly and popular articles on Rusyn history and culture and the blog The Carpatho-Rusyns of Pennsylvania. He co-authored Príkra (Prešov, Slovakia, 2006), a history of his Rusyn maternal grandmother's village in eastern Slovakia. He has master’s degrees in international business and Eastern Europe studies from the University of Pittsburgh.

Loretta Hanuschak Ekoniak
Loretta Hanuschak Ekoniak

Loretta is the granddaughter of Slovak immigrants who settled along the Mahoning River. She is president of the American Slovak Cultural Association of the Mahoning Valley and co-author of Slovaks of the Greater Mahoning Valley. She is on the board of the Youngstown-Spišská Nová Ves Sister Cities organization.

Gregory C. Ference
Gregory C. Ference

Gregory is a professor of History at Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland, where he has taught since 1988. He holds a BA in History with a Certificate in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, and an MA (History), MLS, and PhD in East European History concentrating on Czechoslovakia from Indiana University.

Sierra Green
Sierra Green

Sierra is a native of Adamsville, Pennsylvania, and received her Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh. As an archivist at the Detre Library & Archives of the Senator John Heinz History Center, Sierra is engaged in archival processing and reference services in addition to her work in public and educational programming.

Carol Hochman
Carol Hochman

Carol serves Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic for Western Pennsylvania and Ohio. She is chair of the board of the Friends of Via, a nonprofit based in Pittsburgh, which supports a wide variety of Czech nonprofits including the Via Foundation in Prague. She is a former professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Marilyn Cocchiola Holt
Marilyn Cocchiola Holt

Marilyn is Library Services Manager of the Pennsylvania Department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and currently serves as President and Program Chair of the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society. Ms. Holt has worked with genealogical patrons for 32 years and has presented numerous programs on local and family history topics since 1988.

Jim Hudec
Jim Hudec

Jim was born in Cleveland, Ohio, into a family of Bohemian grandparents and grew up involved in the local Sokol and CSA Lodge. Always interested in his Czech heritage, Jim has built a forest of family trees for his extended family, including thousands of ancestors found in the Czech Parish Archives. Now retired and living in Plano, Texas, Jim is applying his professional background to the field of genealogy research.

Gabriela Jiskrova
Gabriela Jiskrova

Gabriela was born and raised in Brno, South Moravia. She received her MA degree in Psychology at Masaryk University in Brno. She is currently a doctoral student of Family Sciences at the University of Kentucky. Besides academic interests, she likes traveling and learning about new cultures, gastronomy, and mushroom hunting.

Rebecca Kichta Miller
Rebecca Kichta Miller

Rebecca Kichta Miller was born and raised in Pittsburgh. She has been doing genealogy since 1970 when her mother gave her copies of two family trees. Her business, Shake the Tree . . . Discover Your Roots, provides one-on-one and class instruction on all phases of family history research. She serves as the Chairperson for the Genealogy Pavilion at both the Pittsburgh Irish Festival and the Ligonier Highland games, and as Editor for the Western Pennsylvania Genealogical Society newsletter.

Michael Kopanic, Jr.
Michael Kopanic, Jr.

Michael Kopanic, Jr., a native of Youngstown, Ohio is an Adjunct Professor of History and Course Chair of European History and Western Civilization Courses at the University of Maryland University College. Specializing in the history of East Central Europe, Slovakia, and Slovak immigration history in the U.S., he has spoken widely on topics in Slovak history and writes a regular column for the largest circulating Slovak-American newspaper, Jednota. Dr. Kopanic has also written for Naše rodina and serves on the Board of CGSI.

Štěpánka Korytová-Magstadt
Štěpánka Korytová-Magstadt

Štěpánka is an Associate Instructor at Ivy Tech Community College and at Indiana University, affiliated with the Center for Study of the Global Change and with Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University at Bloomington. Her research and teaching focuses on global migration, European migration to the U.S., gender and ethnicity, human trafficking, poverty, and labor exploitation. She is a native of the Czech Republic.

Carl Kotlarchik
Carl Kotlarchik

Carl Kotlarchik has been an avid genealogist for over forty years. An organic chemist by training, he was the Director of R&D for Photographic Materials at Eastman Kodak before retiring in 2004. Carl’s 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 to locate Austro-Hungarian military records to help others find their ancestral documents.

Miroslav Koudelka
Miroslav “Mirek“ Koudelka

Miroslav “Mirek“ Koudelka studied Teaching Czech and History, and later on, English at Palacký University in Olomouc, CR and at Komenský University in Bratislava, SK. He has been working as a professional genealogist, guide, and interpreter since 1993 when he quit his teaching career. Mirek translated History of Czechs in America by Dr. Jan Habenicht into English. Mirek has presented for past CGSI Conferences and various other genealogy and history events in the US, Czechia and Slovakia.

Albert Ksinan
Albert Ksinan

Albert Ksinan spent most of his life in Ostravice, a small village in the Beskydy Mountains in the Silesian part of the Czech Republic. He earned his MA degree in Psychology at Masaryk University in Brno, where he met Gabriela. He is currently a doctoral student of Family Sciences at the University of Kentucky. He likes traveling, reading, cooking, and watching movies. He is very interested in learning about American history and culture and is sometimes fascinated by cross-cultural differences.

Blanka Lednická
Blanka Lednická

Blanka Lednická is a native Czech, born in Prague and living in the Vysočina region. Her and her husband’s ancestors come from all regions of the CR. She has been researching her family history for more than 20 years. She graduated with a degree in history from Masaryk University in Brno. She works as a professional researcher and has written a very successful book Sestavte si rodokmen (Create your family tree) about Czech genealogical research. She lectures on Czech genealogy and old Czech handwriting.

Ronald Matviyak
Ronald Matviyak

Ronald Matviyak, PE, Ret., grew up with a fascination for Slovakia and the family over there from his earliest childhood. He first overcame economics and the Cold War to visit in 1970; then again 1982, and innumerable times since 1987. Over the decades he has accumulated what is likely the largest Slovak and Rusyn library in the State of Alaska. His interest spans life in Slovakia through the ages rather than pure genealogy. This is reflected in the papers presented at this conference.

Kevin J. McNamara
Kevin J. McNamara

Kevin J. McNamara is the author of a narrative work of non-fiction, Dreams of a Great Small Nation: The Mutinous Army that Threatened a Revolution, Destroyed an Empire, and Remade the Map of Modern Europe. He earned a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in international politics from Temple University, where he was a student of the noted American military historian, Russell F. Weigley. Kevin is serving as a consultant on a film currently in production in the Czech Republic, The Legionaries: Siberian Anabasis.

Margaret Nasta
Margaret Nasta

Margaret Nasta worked for thirty years at the Carnegie Mellon Research Institute in Pittsburgh PA, as a chemist and materials scientist. She is now retired and focusing her energies toward documenting family history and the Eastern European immigrant experience. Her ancestors emigrated in the early 1900’s from small villages in eastern Slovakia and Trans-Carpathia. They settled southeast of Pittsburgh in McKeesport, Duquesne, Glassport, and Clairton.

Michal Razus
Michal Razus

Michal Razus is a genealogist and ancestral tour¬guide, working and living in Prešov, Slovakia. He is a regional representative of CGSI for Slovakia and he has been a speaker at the CGSI Conferences since 2011. He contributes articles for Naše rodina and participates in webinars and online lectures organized by CGSI. He is fascinated by the old stories and is happy to share them with you while exploring Slovakia, its history, culture and heritage.

John Righetti
John Righetti

John Righetti is one of the founders of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society and served as its national president for its first 19 years. He has a certificate in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Pittsburgh with emphasis on Austro-Hungarian History. He has been interviewed by Rusyn language media in former Yugoslavia, Slovakia and Poland and has received the Golden Valaska Award for contributions to Rusyn culture. He has lectured extensively on Carpatho-Rusyn topics throughout the nation.

Elaine Rusinko
Elaine Rusinko

Elaine Rusinko is Associate Professor of Russian in the Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She completed a Ph.D. in Russian literature at Brown University. Her interest in Andy Warhol stems from their common Carpatho-Rusyn ethnic background. She published a monograph on the reception of Warhol by Carpatho-Rusyns entitled “We Are All Warhol’s Children: Andy and the Rusyns".

Helmuth Schneider Jr.
Helmuth Schneider Jr.

Helmuth Schneider Jr. is a retired Geologist and has been a member of CGSI since 2005. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology from St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas in 1960. He retired twelve years ago following a forty-five year Career in Business and Petroleum Exploration. He got an early start on learning about maps when he took required courses in Geology and Surveying his degree. He used city and county maps in his jobs through the years.

John Schweich
John Schweich

John Schweich is a trustee of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society. He studied International Politics at Penn State University and is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army. John is also a former adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh. He was a speaker at the 2013 CGSI Conference in Lombard IL. He is the author of the article, "Brookside AL: An Early and Improbable Slavic Community in the Deep South," Naše Rodina December 2014. John also owns the largest collection of U.S. Carpatho-Rusyn parish histories.

Rich Venezia
Rich Venezia

Rich Venezia is a New Jersey native who now calls Pittsburgh home, with roots in Italy, Ireland, England, Wales, and Prussia. He started Rich Roots Genealogy after having researched his own family for a decade, and credits his maternal grandmother for his passion for family history. He has been a member of the research team of Genealogy Roadshow (PBS) for two seasons, and also consulted on Follow Your Past on the Travel Channel. He specializes in immigrant ancestry, and researches on Italian and Irish ancestry.