RootsTech 2020: Day 1 – My Sessions, Announcements & Friends

Rootstech entrance

RootsTech’s 10th anniversary conference opened with a bang, or in this case, a bag.

Rootstech 2020 bag

The place is packed. At the speaker reception, they told us that there are just under 15K registered guests for the entire conference, plus another 24K registered for Saturday. That doesn’t count people watching at least some of the sessions via Livestream (here) or virtual passes sold.

Rootstech 2020 Roberta

Yesterday was my really long day, with two sessions, separated only by lunch. I think they were really well received. It’s so energizing to see so many people interested in genetic genealogy and how to use it, at all, and more effectively. I asked in the second session how many people had NOT tested and I think there were six in a room of maybe 300 people or so.

Rootstech 2020 kicking

In the first session, I asked who had tested and a sea of hands went up. That session was being recorded for the virtual pass holders, the room was huge, as you can kind of see above, and I didn’t ask who had NOT tested, because I wouldn’t have been able to see. My “Kick DNA up a Notch to UnMask Unknown Ancestors” was billed as intermediate to advanced, so I wouldn’t expect people who hadn’t yet tested to be in that session.

The other big news is that RootsTech London will happen this year, November 5-7. I wondered last year if having a second RootsTech in London would decrease attendance at this conference in Salt Lake, and it appears not, based on the attendance numbers.

Rootstech 2020 show floor

click to enlarge

Today, I’ll be in the Speaker Meetup area, number 4 above, 11-11:30 for the Meet the ToolMakers meetup with Jonny Perl, creator of DNAPainter, Dana Leeds who devised the Leeds clustering method and Rob Warthen, the man behind DNAGedcom. Come talk and ask questions if you’re at RootsTech.

RootsTech 2020 summary schedule

Here’s the rest of my schedule and you can see the corresponding locations on the map, above.

Photos From Yesterday

I’m grabbing some pictures from yesterday. Many were taken by other people and posted to my Facebook feed. Thank you one and all.

I can’t tell you how heartwarming it is to catchup with old friends, make new friends (like the two amazing young and talented Native American women and meet people I’ve only known online.

RootsTech 2020 Native women

Michelle Franzoni Thorley (an amazing artist) and Nassari Alvarez Everett. These amazing women are the up and coming next generation. It’s up to us to welcome them and facilitate their path. We are discussing how to accomplish just that!

Rootstech Tierra Cotton-Kellow

My friend Tierra Cotton-Kellow you might know as #Pressingmyway. I normally find her at the FHL, but I missed here there this year. She wasn’t camped in her normal seat.

Rootstech 2020 Tierra tree

I’m always interested to see what the session attendees post about my sessions. This, from Tierra’s social media feed. Indeed, I did say exactly that:)

I also said, three times, and asked the attendees to repeat after me, “Ethnicity is only an estimate,” as many people reported on Twitter. Hope everyone heard that!

RootsTech 2020 Janet

Long-time blog follower Janet Seegmiller. We met two years ago in person and caught up again this year. I’m so grateful when people come up and introduce themselves and I hope no one gets offended at hugs.

Rootstech 2020 Wendell

I was so pleased to finally get to meet Wendell. We corresponded a great deal a few years ago working on a particular project as part of a group. So nice to put a face with a name.

You know what the common theme is in all of these pictures. Everyone is smiling to beat the band. Genuine happiness is everyplace with hugs all around. Everyone hugs and it’s not obligatory – everyone means it! So much love everyplace.


Speaking of love, Lara Diamond was gifted with a quilt. The fabrics are a combination of Jewish themes and math, given that Lara is both a mathematician and an amazing genetic genealogist whose life was saved by her health test informing her that she has a genetic propensity for breast cancer. She found that cancer in her 30s thanks to that test and is with us at RootsTech today because that test literally woke her up and saved her life. Lara wants everyone to know that if you have cancer in your family, that these consumer tests only test a few of many markers, and to have medical genetic testing done through your physician.

Consumer tests can be the canary in the coalmine though and let you know that you need to have a discussion with your doctor. Thank you Lara for being so brave and sharing your journey with us, publicly.

rootstech 2020 Lara quilt

RootsTech 2020 Lara quilt 2

Rootstech 2020 Lara quilt 3

If anyone thinks for one minute that we are not a community and a family of heart, they’d be sorely mistaken. Don’t ever forget, we are all related – it’s just a matter of how long ago.

That’s it for now. Gotta run. Sorry this is a bit rough.

Rootstech 2020 chalk drawing

17 thoughts on “RootsTech 2020: Day 1 – My Sessions, Announcements & Friends

  1. From all the pics I’ve seen and the conversations I had with people there, it seems like everyone’s having a great time. Wish I was there recording the Wikitree demo with my camera. That would be cool. =)

    Have a great rest of the con. Great pics! Tell Eowyn, Mags and the others I said hi!

  2. Hi Roberta –
    Knew you’d be great at your sessions. Never really had a desire to get crushed in the mob at Roots Tech; however, might change my mind with you now you being a presentator. So enjoy your postings 😊

    💞 Ally n Cali

  3. Roberta,
    Awesome article on your first day…look fabulous…loved that out fit in first pic with the tree…hopefully one day I can attend one of these Root Tech conventions. I definitely would love to go. Thanks for sharing. Have fun


    Cindy Carrasco

  4. Roberta – You looked just beautiful on that stage. Your pretty hair and bright smile coupled with that gorgeous multi-colored outfit — perfection. Love your blog and how you educate we beginning DNA genealogists. Have fun the rest of the week.

  5. I enjoyed your presentation of “Kick DNA up a Notch to UnMask Unknown Ancestors” It was a packed room and you rocked it!

  6. It was a blessing to be in Roberta’s Rootstech sessions and to get a hug more than once during the four days. She is the source of so much wisdom that helps my brain wrap around the advances in DNA testing, research, and discovery since my first mtDNA in 2008. Thanks for being there and for helping so many of us in our quest.

  7. Meeting you was so wonderful. I felt inspired and seen. Thank you for your work and friendship.

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