Our Phoenix East Valley DNA Special Interest Group usually meets at 7 pm (PST/AZ time) each 1st Thursday in the FamilySearch Center classrooms upstairs in the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center, 455 E Main Street, Mesa (Main Street and LeSueur). Everyone is welcome! If you would like us to cover a particular DNA topic in future meetings, let us know! The level is usually Intermediate, sometimes Advanced. We have a Facebook group you can join for more frequent updates and interaction. I also offer Beginning DNA presentations at this location and other locations (see Calendar below).

Entryway at the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center/FamilySearch Center. Go upstairs and turn right to find the Family History classrooms.

Upcoming meetings and presentations:

Thursday, May 5, 2022, 7 pm, DNA Interest Group in the FamilySearch Center classrooms upstairs at the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center, 455 E Main Street, Mesa, and on Zoom (message me for the link). Presenter Bonnie Bossert will show us how to use the diagramming software Scapple to sketch DNA match charts. Scapple is from Literature and Latte ($18 one time purchase). It is not necessary to have Scapple to learn how to diagram. Intermediate to advanced.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 7 pm, Beginning DNA presentation for the Phoenix East Family History Center at 18th Street and Missouri. On Zoom. Message for link.

Past meetings & Presentations

Thursday, April 7, 2022, 7 pm DNA Interest Group in the FamilySearch Center classrooms upstairs at the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center, 455 E Main Street, Mesa. Topic: Many DNA Tips & Tricks. Presenter: Ken Waters.

(FYI: The i4GG Conference in San Diego scheduled for April 9-10, 2022 is back on and about 10 or more of us always attend that in person. This is CeCe Moore’s “annual” genetic genealogy conference which will also be available on Vimeo).

Saturday, March 5, 2022, 12 pm – 1pm MST online only, tune in to a live panel discussion for RootsTech Connect on “Bring Your Community Family History Project to Life.” Join in to hear a brief recap and next steps for the Connected Tempe project! Follow Connected Tempe on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Other panelists include Dr. Joe Price of the BYU Record Linking Labs, Taneya Koonce, Taralyn Parker, Rachel Trotter, Heather Jacobs, Miles Meyer, Alisha Chang and Mary Anderson.

Friday, March 4, 2022 6 pm – 7 pm MST online only, tune in to my live discussion for RootsTech Connect on “Searching for Close Relatives with Your DNA Results.” To find my RootsTech sessions, enter my name in the Speakers field, or under Menu, click Calendar, then click Sessions for each day and look for my name. The Sessions under Calendar are only the Live Sessions for the three days of RootsTech. There are about 60 live sessions that were not pre-recorded.

Thursday, March 3, 2022 6 pm- 6:30 pm MST ONLINE ONLY, tune in to my live discussion for RootsTech Connect on “DNA Interest Groups That Keep ’em Coming Back.” This will take the place of our usual monthly meeting. (Bonus tip: You can go to the Mesa Family HIstory Library Thursday, March 3rd at 10 am through 8:45 pm, Friday, 10 am through 8:45 pm, Saturday, March 5th at 10 am through about 4 pm to watch Keynote Speakers and Main Stage entertainment with other RootsTech enthusiasts.)

Thursday, February 3, 2022, 7 pm, DNA Interest Group in the FamilySearch Center classrooms upstairs at the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center. In person and on Zoom. Presenter: Mckell Keeney. Topic: Focus on 23andMe DNA Results. Intermediate level.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022, 7 pm, Beginning DNA in the FamilySearch Center classrooms upstairs at the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center. In person only. Presenter: Mckell Keeney.

Thursday, January 6, 2022, 7 pm, DNA Interest Group in the FamilySearch Center classrooms upstairs at the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center. In person and on Zoom. Presenter: Mckell Keeney. Topic: Focus on MyHeritage DNA Results. Intermediate level.

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, 7 pm, DNA Interest Group in the FamilySearch Center classrooms upstairs at the Mesa Temple Visitors’ Center, 455 E Main Street, Mesa, Arizona. We will have a 25 minute or so mini-class by Ken Waters on a new system he has for using Ancestry dots/DNA groups, which will be available to watch on Zoom, also. Then we’ll have appetizers/desserts down in the kitchen area. Bring a favorite food to share from one of your family traditions or from one of your ethnicities.

(No November 2021 DNA Interest Group meeting, folks! Come to our December 2nd social or tune in then)

November 14, 2021, 7 pm, Gilbert Historical Museum—HD South, What Does Your DNA Say About You? 10 S Gilbert Road, Gilbert. Presenter: Mckell Keeney. Beginning level.

Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, 7 pm, DNA Interest Group

Mesa FamilySearch Center, 455 E Main Street, Mesa

Topic: Part 2 of Steps in the book, Your DNA Guide-the book, step by step plans to connect you with your family using DNA by Diahan Southard. You do not need to have the book in order to learn from this class. If you would like to order the book, it is available on Amazon and on Diahan’s website: Your DNA Guide.

Level: Intermediate

Presenter: Mckell Keeney

Please join us in person upstairs in the Family History classrooms, or join us on Zoom. Everyone is welcome, and as always, there are no dues to participate in our Interest Group.

September 2, 2021, 7 pm Pacific/AZ, DNA Interest Group

Mesa Visitor’s Center/FamilySearch Center: 455 E Main Street, Mesa, AZ 85203

Park along LeSueur or in the 400 space Light Rail Park and Ride Lot on the north side of Main Street. Please use caution in the crosswalk walking across the light rail tracks. Watch the lighted pedestrian signal and of course, look both ways. It’s a wide street.

Go to the second floor (there is an elevator option)l; turn right to find the Family History classrooms.

Topic: “Work Your Plan: Part 1” Guidance in using the first steps of Diahan Southard’s book, “your DNA guide, the book: step by step plans”

Please RSVP, as space is limited! Also available on Zoom (message for the link)

September 18, 2021

Private presentation for the DAR Anasazi Chapter in Peoria, Arizona (west Phoenix)

“What’s in your DNA?”

Find out how personality traits, characteristics and experiences of your Patriot(s) can be passed down to their descendants, and how you can capitalize on the positive aspects to enrich your life and your family history. Presenter: Mckell Keeney

August 2021

No DNA Interest Group this month. Enjoy a short break before we go back to in-person meetings!

July 1, 2021, 7 pm Pacific/AZ (available to watch on Zoom)

Phoenix East Valley DNA Interest Group

What are the Odds? updates on DNApainter.com – Y-DNA – mitoDNA

Presented by Bonnie Bossert

June 4 and 5, 2021

Southern California Genealogical Society Genealogy Jamboree

The Genes in Your Family (Virtual conference the weekend before Jamboree: The Stars in Your Family)

Mckell’s recorded presentation “So You Wanna be a Search Angel? Volunteer to Help Adoptees” will be available to registered attendees on June 5, 2021 at 9 am Pacific Time/AZ time. Go to details for the handout.

New content! New case study!

Sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society and Family Research Library.

Standard registration includes a social hour, six live presentations (one Friday evening and five on Saturday), plus 10 recorded sessions of your choice. Plus registration gives you the option of all recorded sessions for an additional $80 for members. Registration opens January 11, 2021 at GenealogyJamboree.com.

Early registration through April 26, 2021: $150 for the Genetic Genealogy two-day conference. If you are only registering for the Genetic Genealogy conference and not Jamboree the following weekend, registration is an additional $20.

SCGS Members receive the discounted price above for the conference. If you are not a SCGS member, registration is an additional $20. Join the Southern California Genealogical Society at scgsgenealogy.com

Here’s the schedule of presentations: Jamboree 2021

June 3, 2021, 7 pm Pacific/AZ, DNA Interest Group

DNA Islands, presented by Ken Waters. Message for Zoom link.

May 6, 2021, 6 pm Pacific and AZ time; 7 pm Mountain; 8 pm Central; 9 pm Eastern

DNA Interest Group, Zoom Meeting with Special Guest, Libby Copeland
The Cultural Phenomenon of Home DNA Testing

Discussion leader: Libby Copeland, author of The Lost Family; How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are
The presentation will explore the extraordinary cultural phenomenon of home DNA testing, which is redefining family history. It will draw on Libby Copeland’s years of research for her new book The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are (Abrams, 2020), which The Wall Street Journal calls “a fascinating account of lives dramatically affected by genetic sleuthing.” With more than 37 million people having been tested, a tipping point has been reached. Virtually all Americans are affected whether they have been tested or not, and millions have been impacted by significant revelations in their immediate families.


Libby Copeland is an award-winning journalist who has written for the Washington PostNew York magazine, the New York Times, the Atlantic, and many other publications. She specializes in the intersection of science and culture. Copeland was a reporter and editor at the Post for eleven years, has been a media fellow and guest lecturer, and has made numerous appearances on television and radio.

Book Description

The Lost Family explores the rapidly evolving phenomenon of home DNA testing, its implications for how we think about family and ourselves, and its ramifications for American culture broadly. The Washington Post says The Lost Family “reads like an Agatha Christie mystery” and “wrestles with some of the biggest questions in life: Who are we? What is family? Are we defined by nature, nurture or both?”

Availability of Signed and Personalized Copies

Copies of The Lost Family, signed and personalized by Libby Copeland, can be purchased through The Village Bookstore in Pleasantville, NY (Attention: Jennifer Kohn, 914-769-8322).

Tuesday, March 23, 2021, 6:30-8 pm

Gilbert Historical Museum—HD South, Gilbert, Arizona

Find Amazing Stories in Your DNA. Presenter: Mckell Keeney

10 S. Gilbert Road, Gilbert (Enter the parking lot on Elliott Road west of Gilbert Road and follow the signs to the side door)

Free event, but please pre-register: https://hdsouth.org/programs/history-cafes/

February 25-27, 2021

RootsTech Connect 2021 was free this year and accessible to everyone in the world! Go to Rootstech.org: choose from hundreds of classes on a wide range of genealogy topics from numerous countries. Join a global genealogy community.

Mckell was in the virtual booth “Let’s Do Good Together” in the exhibit hall and led a live Zoom discussion on DNA Interest Groups on Thursday, Feb. 25th at 2 pm MST and a live Zoom discussion about Search Angel volunteering on Friday, Feb. 26 at 2 pm MST. The meetings were not recorded, but a lot of people were helped by many search angels and received information from DNA Interest Group veterans.


Saturday, February 6, 2021 at NOON

Searching for Irish Ancestors
Guest presenter: Dr. Penny Walters of Bristol, England
Zoom meeting (Day and time change due to 7 hours time difference)
$5 donation requested, but all are welcome to tune in whether or not you donate.

Thursday, January 7, 2021, 7 pm

Thursday, January 7th, 7 pm

“Don’t Forget mtDNA!”
Presenter: Ken Waters
Find out about mtDNA testing. See what Ken discovered from his test.
Join Zoom Meeting (link in email and in our Facebook group)
Also, if you have taken a mitochondrial DNA test with FTDNA, Ken is interested in questions you have about your match list. You may view his presentation slides and email him at satwatcher.gen@gmail.com

Thursday, December 3, 2020, 7 pm

DNA Interest Group virtual meeting:

Round Robin “social.” Take a minute or three to share something about your DNA (Are you in a surname study? Did you take a Y-DNA test? Are you using a new DNA tool?)

E-mail for the link or find it in the Phoenix East Valley DNA Facebook group.


Monday, December 14, 2020, 7 pm (online Zoom)

Family History Society of Arizona, Tempe Chapter

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning! A, B, Cs of DNA


November 5, 2020 DNA Interest Group

Ken Waters presented a case study that used traditional genealogy research and DNA analysis. The meeting ID and password was emailed to our Phoenix East Valley DNA Special Interest Group list, and posted in our Facebook group.

October 1, 2020 DNA Interest Group

Alyson Johnson presented a case study on Zoom.. She recently helped a foundling with his DNA matches and building his family tree. He was left in a train station as an infant in 1942.

September 3, 2020 DNA Interest Group

Ken Waters presented on Zoom. Topic: GEDmatch tree. Presentation slides are available on Ken’s DNA website. familytreeaz.com

August 6, 2020 DNA Interest Group

“Where in the World? Exploring Ethnicity Estimates” Mckell Keeney presented on Zoom. We are more alike than we are different.  But we do genealogy to identify our unique ancestors. Mckell will go over different estimates at each of the testing sites, showing you how hers have changed at Ancestry since she first tested and looking at a few other people’s estimates – some Jewish, some Native American, some African American and so on…We’ll look at how to compare matches’ ethnicity estimates to our own at the different sites if we need clues about our common ancestors. We will look at how to run Admixtures (Ethnicities) on GEDmatch. Also, we will look at ethnicity estimates on Living DNA, MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA.

July 2, 2020

Phoenix East Valley DNA Interest Group

Virtual meeting on Zoom (meeting link and password will be emailed and in our Facebook group)

7 pm – 8:30 pm

Topic: Navigating a cluster of Donor-conceived siblings

One of the first members of a very large cluster of donor-conceived siblings will join us virtually to share how she has moved forward embracing her many new siblings. Moderator: Mckell Keeney

June 6, 2020

Phoenix East Valley DNA Interest Group

7 pm – 8:30 pm

Finding Elusive Ancestors with DNA

Presenters: Therese Beckman and Mckell Keeney

Therese will share how she found her mother’s father.
After that, we will take another look at group member Carla’s mystery. Carla had a “misattributed” father. Although I identified her biological father as a McNamara and showed those steps in one of our meetings some time ago, things did not totally add up for the common ancestor(s) of some of her other matches.
Recently Carla got a new high match and she found out one of the three (all-deceased) McNamara brothers was a half-brother, not a full brother. This is the one who was her bio-father! He was a McNamara in name only! Now we could place all of Carla’s “rogue” Nelson/Nilsson matches in the correct spots in a “What Are the Odds?” Tree and get a clearer picture of which Nelson brother was likeliest to be the father of her bio-father now that she was also looking to identify her biological grandfather. Are you with me so far? It’s a great story on how to follow the DNA and sort matches to find ancestors.
Carla plans to be with us in the Zoom meeting so she can help answer questions. Kudos to her for working on the Swedish paper trail a lot to fill out her tree and for telling me, “There’s something not making sense,” when I thought my work was done.

May 7, 2020

Phoenix East Valley DNA Interest Group on Zoom

7 pm – 8 pm

Organizing DNA matches. Presenter: Mckell Keeney

  • Why make a separate list of your matches? Options
  • Why use Ancestry group dots? Options and examples
  • How to use notes sections for your matches in MyHeritage and 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA
  • Group members may share their favorite method of organizing matches

April 2, 2020

Phoenix East Valley DNA Interest Group

Short virtual meeting on Facebook Live

March 16, 2020

Copper Springs Family Night, Gilbert, Arizona

What to do with your DNA results

Open to all residents

Canceled because of social distancing for COVID-19

March 5, 2020

Phoenix East Valley DNA Special Interest Group

Our last in-person meeting for 2020, unbeknownst to us!

February 26-29, 2020

RootsTech 2020, 10-Year Anniversary, Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, Utah

“Search Angel Secrets”

Wednesday, February 26th, 3 pm, Room 255D

Saturday, February 29th, 3 pm, Room 255F

Come to Mckell’s presentation (same presentation; two choices on the date) to find out how you can use *search angel techniques to help yourself or others solve DNA mysteries. (*volunteering to find unknown parents)

February 6, 2020

Phoenix East Valley DNA Interest Group, 7 pm, Mesa, Arizona

“Helping Adoptees: Case Study of an Intermediate Case”

Presenter: Mckell Keeney

See how traditional search techniques and working with DNA results quickly came together to identify birth parents. The “What are the Odds?” tool from DNApainter.com will be demonstrated, as used for this case.

November 11, 2019

(Monday) 12:30 pm: What’s in your DNA? “Saving Golden Spike: The Story of Bernice Gibbs Anderson,” a look at what Mckell has learned about herself by learning more about her grandmother this past year through in-depth research into her archives. West Valley Genealogical Society, Sun City, Arizona.

October 30, 2019

(Wednesday) 3 pm. Private presentation for members of Las Palmas Sendas genealogy club, Mesa, Arizona: Working with your DNA matches.

October 2, 2019

(Wednesday) 6:30 pm – 8 pm: “DNA in Family History Research,” at HD South, the Gilbert Heritage District South Historical Museum, 10 S. Gilbert Road, Gilbert, AZ. Follow the signs to the presentation room and park on the north side of the museum (not on Gilbert Road).

Adoptive mom, daughter, birthmother on KSL news
Adoptee seated in the middle with her adoptive mother and birth mother on the news in Salt Lake City. Mckell worked with the birth mother to get her DNA in all the databases to look for a match with a descendant.

Family History

Families are important! Mckell believes that people don’t have to choose between their known family and new family members. It’s not a competition! People can expand their circle of family with great emotional healing to all.

Casual consultations

Mckell is available to speak to you by phone, email or on Facetime.


Next Steps…

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