Ms. Smolenyak, an award-winning professional and author/co-author of four books, has an impressive background in the family history industry with several decades of experience. Ms. Smolenyak most recently rewrote history by uncovering the true story of Annie Moore, the first immigrant to come through Ellis Island.
"We couldn't be more pleased to expand our relationship with Megan and have her join our stellar research team led by noted Loretto Dennis Szucs (Lou)," said Tim Sullivan, CEO of The Generations Network, parent company of Ancestry.com. "With Lou and Megan together, we are proud to have two of the most well-recognized authorities on board. Lou and Megan both bring unique talents to the table and the combination of their efforts creates an unrivaled team. Megan has an unmatched mix of knowledge in both traditional and DNA family history research. Coupled with her ability to effectively communicate and evangelize the category, she has a natural talent for genuinely inspiring and motivating people when she talks about family history."
As the Chief Family Historian, Ms. Smolenyak will participate in various roles for the company. She will serve as a key researcher for major company campaigns, participate in marketing, provide input into the design of new family history products and services, as well as serve as an expert and spokesperson on family history to the media.
"Ancestry.com is the clear leader in the family history category and accepting a role like this is an amazing opportunity," said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian, Ancestry.com. "There has never been a better time for the family history category. As Ancestry.com continues to fuel the trend and catapult the category into the mainstream, I look forward to working with Lou Szucs and the Ancestry.com team to help increase awareness of the magic of family history."
As Executive Editor and Vice President of Community Relations for Ancestry.com, Ms. Szucs will continue to manage community relations, building relationships with key experts in the field and establishing strategic partnerships.
"I have known and worked with Megan for years and am delighted that she has accepted this position with Ancestry.com," said Loretto Dennis Szucs, also noted co-editor of The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy, Ancestry.com. "Genealogy is a true passion of mine and I enjoy nothing more than working with people like Megan, who share the enthusiasm and truly understand the power and connection that is found by digging up stories and details about one's past. I look forward to collaborating with her as we continue to provide resources so that more and more people can realize the excitement of discovering and preserving their own family stories."
First inspired to pursue genealogy as a career by a 6th grade family history assignment, Ms. Smolenyak has served in a number of capacities during her years as a professional genealogist. As the lead researcher for the PBS Ancestors series, Ms. Smolenyak researched over 5,000 genealogical stories and has subsequently consulted for other television programs, including PBS's award-winning They Came to America and BBC's Timewatch, regarding the identification of sailors' remains recovered from the USS Monitor.
Since 2000, Ms. Smolenyak has worked closely with Ancestry.com writing articles for the company's publications, including the Ancestry Weekly Journal and Ancestry Magazine, and most recently serving as Ancestry.com's spokesperson on Good Morning America's "Our Family Tree" series. On Good Morning America, Ms. Smolenyak presented the anchors, including Diane Sawyer, with their family trees and stories about their families' histories.
She is the author of Honoring Our Ancestors: Inspiring Stories of the Quest for Our Roots, In Search of Our Ancestors: 101 Inspiring Stories of Serendipity and Connection in Rediscovering Our Family History, and They Came to America: Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors, along with publishing a number of articles in magazines, newsletters, etc. She is co-founder of Roots Television, a pioneering and popular online channel of genealogy and history-oriented programming.
An expert on DNA genealogy research, Ms. Smolenyak's latest book, co-authored with Ann Turner, M.D., is called Trace Your Roots with DNA: Using Genetic Tests to Explore Your Family Tree. Since 2000, Ms. Smolenyak has also been a consultant with the U.S. Army's Repatriation project to trace families of servicemen killed or MIA in Korea, WWII and Vietnam. She has supported this and more than 75 other genealogical initiatives through the Honoring Our Ancestors Grants Program. Ms. Smolenyak is also a recipient of a number of awards, including International Society of Family History Writers and Editors awards in 2003, 2004 and 2005.