Conference Presenters

Vincent Brooks, senior local records archivist, has been with the Library of Virginia for 18 years. He has held previous positions as reference archivist and architectural records archivist. Currently, he administers the indexing and digitization of local chancery court suits. Vince received a B.A. (History) from St. Vincent College and an M.A. (Public History) from Duquesne University.

Shannon Combs-Bennet is an awarding author and lecturer based out of Northern Virginia. She speaks on a variety of topics from genetics to methodology. Currently Shannon is in the genealogy Post Graduate program through the University of Strathclyde and is a staff genealogist at the Colonial Dames 17th Century.

Jean Cooper works as a Metadata and Reference Librarian, and Genealogical Resources Specialist at the University of Virginia Library. She is a published author whose most recent book is A Challenge Was Given (Shortwood Press, 2016).

Greg Crawford is a native of Alabama. He is a graduate of Auburn University where he received a B.A. and M.A. in History. Greg was hired as a Local Records Archivist at the Library of Virginia in 1999 to process local court records, mainly chancery causes. He is currently the Local Records Services Program Manager responsible for managing the processing of local circuit court records and the Circuit Court Records Preservation grants program.

Katie Quick Derby is a professional genealogist and holds a BA in Family History/Genealogy from Brigham Young University. She interned at the Library of Congress, is the past director of the Culpeper Family History Center and is currently an adjunct faculty member in the Family History /Genealogy Department at BYU-Idaho.  She lives with her husband and five children in Culpeper, VA.

Cara Griggs has been a reference archivist at the Library of Virginia since 2006.  She earned a BA in history from Westhampton College of the University of Richmond, an MA in social sciences from the University of Chicago, and an MSLIS with an archival studies concentration from Drexel University.  She is a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists.

Shelley Murphy, aka, “familytreegirl,” a genealogist for over 25 years, presents genealogy workshops at local, state and national genealogy conferences. She is known for her inspiring & interactive “SO WHAT” with genealogy research, along with interesting problem-solving methodology lectures. Murphy is also an instructor at the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute.

Zann Nelson, an award-winning freelance writer, President of History Quest, is director of a project entitled The African American Descendants’ Quest. 30+ years investigating African American history. Research projects include the National Baseball Hall of Fame, National Park Service, James Madison’s Montpelier, the VA Department of Historic Resources, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Drusilla Pair (B.A., M.S.) is a blogger, genealogist, technologist, educator, and lecturer who has been tracing her family history for over 20 years. She is the author of Find Your Folks, www.findyourfolks.blogspot, Professor Dru’s blog,, and the James A. Fields House,  Recent accomplishments include writing and directing the play “Juneteenth Jubilee.”

Lynn Rainville directs a Public History Institute at Sweet Briar College. She has spent two decades studying historic cemeteries, segregated schools, enslaved communities, poor farms, and World War I. Her books include Hidden History: African American Cemeteries in Central Virginia (University of Virginia Press, 2014), Sweet Briar College (Arcadia, 2015), and Virginia in the Great War (McFarland, 2018).

Renate Yarborough Sanders, a recently-retired educator, has been engaged in genealogy research for over 20 years. She specializes in African-American research, primarily in North Carolina and Virginia, and is a member of numerous genealogical organizations. She is the author of two blogs, and is a BlackProGen Live! Panelist.

Selma Stewart has spent over 25 years as a family researcher.  Past President of AAHGS-Hampton Roads Chapter, she serves on the board of the Virginia Genealogical Society.  She participated in numerous transcription projects: Indexing the Virginia Freedmen’s Bureau; Southampton County, VA Court Records; Birth and Death Records of Newport News, VA; etc.

Phillip Troutman is an Assistant Professor of Writing and of History at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. His work on U.S. slavery includes “Grapevine in the Slave Market: African American Geopolitical Literacy and the 1841 Creole Revolt” in The Chattel Principle: Internal Slave Trades in the Americas (ed. Walter Johnson, 2004); and “Correspondences in Black and White: Sentiment in the Slave Market Revolution” in New Studies in the History of American Slavery (eds. E. Baptist and S. Camp, 2006). He is currently writing a book on radical anti-slavery visual rhetoric. Troutman’s engagement with African-American genealogy has been professional rather than purely personal. He has found it an essential tool in researching nineteenth-century engraver Patrick Henry Reason, the Omohundro family of Richmond, and the history of slavery at what is now The George Washington University. You can find links to his work at

Rachel Unkefer has been a genealogist since 1984 and a genetic genealogist since 2009. She is co-administrator of 7 DNA projects, including 3 haplogroup projects, 2 geographic projects, and 2 surname projects. She has been a speaker at international conferences and published journal articles about Y-DNA and its use in mapping male lineages.

Angela Walton-Raji is nationally known as an author, genealogist, podcaster, and blogger. She hosts the weekly African Roots Podcast, is one of the founding members of, and  an instructor at the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute. She is the author of the book Black Indian Genealogy Research.

Bessida Cauthorne White (B.S., J.D.) has been a genealogist for nearly forty years. She is co-founder and president of Middle Peninsula African-American Genealogical and Historical Society, and is a founder of the Greater Richmond Chapter of AAHGS. White is historian for eight of her families and is historian for her church.