I'm Matt Menashes and I serve as the Executive Director of the US-based National Genalogical Society (NGS). I am a Certified Association Executive and have been working in the nonprofit society/association field for 20 years. Prior to that I worked in coastal and marine management for the US government, and in politics in Washington, DC.
What got you into genealogy?
I started using Ancestry.com in 2006 just to begin to try and crack the brick walls in my family tree. I never got too far because I did not have much family history on my father's side, since he is a first-generation American and his parents passed when I was young. They were Jewish immigrants who both lost much of their families in the Holocaust, and we just never really spoke of it in our house. My wife's family, who have Scandinavian Lutheran heritage, however, has lots of information, and it was spending time getting that into Ancestry that really sparked my interest. Of course, I'm doing all this to leave a legacy for our son.
What interesting things have you learned about your ancestors?
Well, I knew my paternal grandfather had been married in the US before he and my grandmother were married. Turns out he, a non-driver, drove across the US to get a quickie divorce in Reno, Nevada, in the 1930s. We know this because of newspaper articles in Nevada that highlight the divorce decree and also the fact that he was fined for speeding and causing a car wreck.
Is there any source in your research that you've used that usually might be overlooked?
My wife's family has a so-called "red book" that was published in the 1980s. The red books were family history compilations that a lot of Scandinavian families in the US-Midwest published. They are really great sources, but a little hard to follow at times. The one we have is probably over 100 pages, but it's in small-format, so the words are tiny too. Not good for my eyes!
What are you currently focusing on in your research?
I have not been focusing on my research since starting as Executive Director of NGS in November 2019. I have been working on strengthening our organization through a merger with the US-based Federation of Genealogical Societies and building a great network of genealogists that can support our efforts at NGS.
What difficulties have you come across in your research?
Well, I'm still waiting to break through the brick walls of genocide in Europe. Some day I will have the energy and perhaps the right frame of mind to really tackle that.
What advice would you give to people starting out in genealogy?
Join your local, national, and ethnic or specialty genealogy societies!
You can look at his society's website by clicking on his picture and please do follow him on Twitter and check out this and this. I do hope you enjoyed reading and stay tuned for the next one arriving next Tuesday!