The Office of the CGO (Chief Genealogy Officer)

May 20, 2013  - by 

As a world leader in family history, it is our business to be tuned in to what is happening in the field of genealogy, to understand and use correct research principles in our product and service development, and to proactively share information. To accomplish this, we have a Chief Genealogical Officer who, along with his staff, acts as a two-way connection to the family history industry and the researching public at large.
What does the CGO do?

Our CGO, David Rencher, serves as a member of my senior executive committee, giving him a great vantage point from which to serve in his role. There are six key areas where the services of the CGO office are focused:

  • Genealogical soundness – Identify opportunities within the organization to improve and ensure genealogical correctness in products and services.
  • Relationship management – provide an ongoing personal relationship with key family history organizations and individuals.
  • Crisis management – help manage situations that could tarnish the public image of FamilySearch or the Church in the community.
  • Image enhancement – this service implements and extends the public image as directed by the senior executive and marketing teams.
  • Publicity events – develops and delivers key messages for the organization to further the objectives of FamilySearch.
  • Staff development – assist in the evaluation and training of staff to increase the impact of FamilySearch staffers on the community.

As David and his staff carry out these duties they provide an invaluable service to FamilySearch. They share our vision, and are in the right conversations with key genealogy community leaders to hear feedback that can help us reach it.  This interaction is crucial as we continue to improve our services and create better tools to help people learn and preserve their family story.

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  1. I am very excited with the new Family Tree program which requires sources.
    However, I was disappointed when the program allowed a change to an indivual that I had on “Watch” with no source cited and worse no E-Mail or address information to contact them.
    If this is acceptable then within a year Family Tree will be in the same disarray as is New Family Search! Please don’t let this happen to such a great new approach.

    1. I too have experienced data changes with no sources and no way to contact the “submitter”. It will not take a year to be in disarray….it is already there in my line.

  2. All of the embellishments created by the FamilySearch staff are very nice and likely very helpful. In order to really search and identify our family members, the best help for most of us is to keep things as clear and simple as possible, with an emphasis on eliminating errors. Thank you for all your creativity, willingness, and availability to help with problems.

  3. I have tried several times to open an account with your company but get the message to supply my password. I do not know what it is. If someone can contact me and let me know how to open an account, I would be appreciative.

    1. Danny,
      Please contact our Patron Services team. They will be happy to help you. Click the Get Help link located at the top of the home page for a list of phone numbers and other contact options.

  4. How much is the course and how long. My first language is Spanish but also understand the English, it interests me to teach my Spanish-speaking word. Thank you.

    iveth aranoz

  5. For over 10 years I have been doing Icelandic family research at the Spanish Fork Family History with Bliss Anderson. I shared the video about photos and stories with my nephew and he has already added photos to our ancestors. Thank you for your advancements. I’ll stay with the Icelandic research and let the younger ones do the photos and stories. Keep up the good work!

  6. This comment is a bit of complaint and suggestion.

    Here is the situation. With the newest release of Family Search it has become very easy for someone to change and delete family linkages in the data base. While I know there is a purpose for allowing multiple ‘opinions’ of parents, children, etc, the current implementation is very frustrating. My son spent several hours a few Sundays ago correcting errors others had introduced my making changes in Family Search. They did not follow the procedure of contacting others (namely my son) who had entered information previous and with documentation. They just made entries, broke existing links, and connected our family to other families incorrectly. This has happened three times with us, on the same line, and by the same person. We have communicated with this person with no response. I am also aware of others experiencing the same difficulty.

    Our suggestion is to implement a process similar to the arbitration feature in Indexing. This would be an arbitration feature that forces someone who has different information to what is currently in the system to contact others interested in the line before they can change existing information.

    While this problem has resulted in time wasted our real concern is that previous work is being changed thus creating errors.

    I am anxious for your thoughts on this matter.

  7. As long as you allow people onto FSTree without accountability (no contact info & no sources) you will end up as bad a new.familysearch. has no defenses against bad genealogy. Your standards need to be higher or problems like poor Brother Harmon’s will multiply. I had such high hopes when FSTree came out, but now I wonder what your focus really is. WE NEED A HELPER FUNCTION !! Not everybody has the computer literacy to deal with FSTree problems. Some NEED HELP!! I feel like my name is all over the place because I have been helping other people using MY account because there is NO Helper Function. Here we are halfway thru 2013 & there is NO Helper Function yet. I sure hope nFS does NOT go away any time soon because there are still things you can do on nFS that you can’t so on FSTree. Especially needed is the combined records view to see what is REALLY going on in a tangled up record that FSTree functions can NOT clarify. Don’t give up the ship! Keep on fixing stuff. Photos are nice but Helper function is NEEDED. Faithful user, Judy Pickett

  8. Dear Mr. Rencher,

    My mother, Alice Millie Hill, passed away December 15, 2011. The time to wait to do her and my step-father’s work has passsed. When I went to print the Ordinance Request Form, to my great dismay, some unknown person had reserved my mother’s initiatory and endowment ordinances. I am locked out of performing these ordinances for my own mother.

    Why can’t this be corrected? I want to do my mom’s temple work. My mom’s pin number is kw8q xvo, and the case number is 3142748.

    I hope you can help me.

    Linda Cassinat Mann

  9. I see that your job description includes the following:
    •Crisis management – help manage situations that could tarnish the public image of FamilySearch or the Church in the community.
    •Image enhancement – this service implements and extends the public image as directed by the senior executive and marketing teams.
    •Publicity events – develops and delivers key messages for the organization to further the objectives of FamilySearch.

    With the handling of the decision and announcement to discontinue distribution of PAF, I should think you may be getting pretty low marks in connection with all of the above. Apparently none of the “senior executives” realize just how unpopular this move has been. Take an hour to read and fairly the comments. It obvious that 90% of the posts are negative. If you are concerned about losing trust, start reading and listening to what to what people are saying. Many of the comments are valid and deserve consideration. You do a disservice to the Church AND the public, by not listening. If this is an executive decision or if management is determined to proceed, then you must do a better job of dispelling the fears, concerns and misconceptions of a public who may be more in touch with the reality of the “here-and-now” than you. To many the abandonment of the 30-year beloved PAF software seems like a disaster and is so crazy wrong. Fix it up and keep it going.

  10. Trying to locate my grand father Harry F, Kline Born 1893,Saint Louis .Missouri .Die in 1964 Saint Louis.Missouri.Marry 1913 Saint Louis.Missouri,Myrtle Schnieder,need all information Cemetery ,,lot # and all .

  11. I have just spent the better part of 1.5 hours on the phone with 2 people on the Family Search “help line.” and neither of them could help – so here’s the deal – there was supposed to be a webinar last night 26 March presented by Jason Harrison of the US/Canada Research Team on newspaper research. It did not happen, or I just couldn’t get in. No one at FS seems to know anything about this. They couldn’t even find the web page. – I’m both puzzled and disappointed and would like to know if the future webinars will happen, if last night’s one will EVER happen and if this group is going to get its act together communications wise. Thanks!

  12. I am hoping you can help me in finding the adopted parents of a woman in her late sixties who desperately wants to know her birth family. I am a volunteer with ancestry
    .com and I help persons who are at that
    brick wall. DNA has determined we have a shared pedigree, but I have been work-ing on this for one-year. thanks

    1. Because of national and state laws regulating access to adoptions records and records of living people and because of the complexity of such a task, FamilySearch does not provide any services that assists people in finding other living family members.

  13. Hello,
    My name is Irene Lee Anderson/Herd/Heineken (Langeheineken).
    I am having trouble logging into Please help me.

  14. We are searching for information about our uncle, Walter Pittman. His sister, Delanie Pittman, was our mother. We know that our uncle left his estate to the church. He died after 1960.