Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois

Biographical Sketches of JGSI Board Candidates for June 2021 Election

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Co-President: Debbie Kroopkin is currently the President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois. She has explored her family history for over two decades and now conducts research for others. She has discovered her family origins in Ukraine, Poland and Belarus. Debbie has traced her clients’ families to towns in these countries, as well as Lithuania, Moldova, and Romania and more. She loves the research hunt and connecting with new families – both in person and on paper.  She has a master’s degree in social work administration with grant writing, interagency collaboration and program planning experience.

Co-President: Wendy Hauser retired from a 30 year career in Federal law enforcement in 2008 and joined JGSI later that year.  In 2013-2015, she served as the Director at Large-Special Events.  She lead the team in 2013/2014 to identify Temple Beth El Northbrook as our new home when JGSI needed to relocate the group from Skokie, IL.  She worked on three JGSI one-day conferences in 2013, 2015 and 2019, helped to document (photograph) memorial plates and historical documents over the years and hosted a program for JGSI members at The Newberry Library.  In addition to working on her family research, Wendy is the Chairperson for the Chicago Police Department 18th District Advisory Committee and a member of Chicago CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). Wendy is looking forward to getting back to travel/photo excursions, hopefully later this year.

Co-Vice President-Membership: Sandra Schon Kiferbaum has been obsessed with genealogy since her first trip to her parents' home towns in Hungary and Slovakia in 2010. She has a degree in English and spent her 40-plus year professional career as a teacher in Chicago Public Schools and Oakton Community College. She has attended many IAJGS international conferences and has enjoyed sharing her genealogical discoveries and travel tips during her JGSI "Kvell and Tell" and mini-conference presentations. She has served as JGSI Publicity Vice President and is currently JGSI Membership Vice President.

Co-Vice President-Membership: Terry Taylor retired from DePaul University in 2019 where she worked in the university library for 26 years as a research/instruction librarian and administrator. Now she has more time to do her own research in family history as well as assist others in their genealogy work. In addition to her master’s degree in Library Science, Terry has bachelors and master’s degrees in French. She has also studied Hebrew, Spanish, and Italian and never tires of learning languages.  Terry has been a member of JGSI for many years and is a big fan of lifelong learning.

Vice President-Programming: Michael Tarkoff has a bachelor's degree in engineering and master's degrees in business and accounting. He retired from Inland Steel Company in 2003 after 36 years of service. In 2016, Mike started a “second career” working part time as an office manager for a geriatric physician, who is a personal friend. His current genealogical interest is connecting with new DNA cousins. Mike was JGSI Treasurer for a number of years, and, more recently, has brought some fresh ideas to the programming role.

Vice President-Publicity: Marty Fischer is a part-time adjunct faculty member of the City Colleges of Chicago, where he teaches online introductory sociology courses; a professional genealogist and freelance copy editor. He is retired from a more-than-30-year career with the Chicago Tribune, mostly as a copy editor. He is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, St. Louis Genealogical Society, American Copy Editors Society, and Editorial Freelancers Association. He has an extensive family history website, Marty has written articles for Morasha, St. Louis Genealogical Society Quarterly, Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly, APG Quarterly, Avotaynu,, and Chicago Tribune.

Recording Secretary: Scott E. Meyer is now Recording Secretary and has served as President and Vice-President of JGSI.  He was Associate Editor of “Search”, an International Journal for Researchers of Jewish Genealogy, for the ten years it was published by JGSI.  A former member of the Board of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, he has lectured on Jewish genealogy throughout North America for over twenty-five years. He was Consulting Editor of A Translation Guide to 19th-Centurey Polish-Language Civil-Registration Documents, by Judith R. Frazin and published by the JGSI.

Corresponding Secretary: Barry Finkel began genealogy in 1965, drawing family tree charts on large sheets of computer paper with input from his parents.  In 1990, one of his brothers decided to put the tree into a Unix computer.  He loaded from the drawings, added his brother's wife’s family, and began contacting relatives.  The database now has over 6,750 persons.  Barry is a retired computer scientist and IT professional; retirement gives him more time to do genealogy,.

Treasurer: Debbie Soren is a retired CPA who has served on various community boards. She became interested in genealogy, and in 1993 organized the information she had been saving since childhood to an early version of Family Tree Maker 3.0 on floppy disk. She now performs research for others, and when there is time she continues to research her and her husband’s families. Prior to covid, on Monday afternoons you could find her volunteering in the Genealogy & Local History Room at the Glenview Public Library. Debbie has a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University. She currently serves as the JGSI Treasurer.
Director-at-Large: Doug Bank started investigating his family roots in 2010 while tracing cancer around the family. He quickly was bitten by the bug and continued to build his family tree in fits and starts over the years to the point that it now contains more than 7000 people. He is particularly interested in genetic genealogy and using newspapers as a research tool. Doug has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering as well as an MBA. He worked for Motorola for 20 years and now runs a non-profit that assists people dealing with testicular cancer. He also is an avid mineral collector, and is on the board of the Fluorescent Mineral Society.

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