Courtney Connolly has loved learning about family history since she was a young girl. Her grandfather would tell her stories about her ancestors from the pictures on his wall and the books on his shelves. She distinctly remembers when her grandpa showed her how to type her name in the computer, and there she was on the family tree.
Courtney loved visiting her grandfather. They would stay up late and chat about family stories. He filled her bucket with stories about their ancestors, and Courtney loved the time they spent together.
“My grandfather loved family history. He worked for FamilySearch (which was then the Genealogical Society of Utah) back in the ’60s. In high school I worked with him and helped him digitize these large family surname books by entering them into PAF (Personal Ancestral File). It was so fun to come across interesting facts and stories about these people, whether it was their unique names, where they were from, or a poem that they had written.”
Few people know so clearly what they want out of life, but Courtney Connolly’s interests and passions guided her to what she was meant to do. She feels she was led and prepared. When Courtney thinks about her own FamilySearch experiences, she is motivated to share her experiences to help others.
Making a Career of Family History
Courtney Connolly was born and raised in Brigham City, Utah. She received her undergraduate degree in business management and marketing at Brigham Young University–Idaho. There was no family history program offered at the time, which surprised Courtney, but that didn’t stop her. She created a custom minor emphasis for herself and requested that the school create a family history major for other students. After her graduation, when the program became available for full-time students, she completed the online family history certification and continued her education, getting her master of business administration at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Four days after graduation, Courtney Connolly began her dream job working at FamilySearch. Courtney started her career in indexing and for three and a half years oversaw all of the marketing for FamilySearch's indexing initiatives. She then switched to partner marketing and coordinated initiatives with various organizations in the industry, such as Ancestry, 23andMe, Findmypast, and others. She then became product marketing manager and oversaw marketing strategies for new updates and releases to FamilySearch.org. This last year, Courtney was promoted to product manager over the Family Tree.
Courtney is grateful for all the ways she was prepared for her career at FamilySearch. While at BYU–Idaho, she decided to sign up for a couple coding classes and can now see why it was important. In her management role at FamilySearch, she works with engineers, and with the help of those unexpected coding classes, she can speak their language.
What Courtney Loves about Working for FamilySearch
Courtney loves all aspects of Family Tree: working with the engineering teams, deciding what they will develop, testing and improving the family tree experience, optimizing the website for search engines. Courtney is also passionate about the personal side of her job—hearing the positive stories of others.
“There are so many great people I am blessed to work with at FamilySearch. I love my role here. I believe we are the results of the people that came before us, and we can gain strength from their examples and the struggles they’ve overcome. When I found out my relatives did really hard things, it inspired me.”
Connecting to Her Ancestors
When Courtney researched her father’s relatives, she found that she and her ancestors had similar interests. They also loved the outdoors, the mountains, and the beach, and they worked to preserve national parks. She was also inspired to learn about the many strong, independent women in her family tree; one wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle and graduated from one of the first women’s colleges on the West Coast and another came to America from England all by herself. She ended up building a career as a doctor in Nevada, riding her horse to attend to her patients.
“I gain so much inspiration from their examples, independence, boldness, and strength. Susanna Veater [one of Courtney’s ancestors] dedicated her life to helping people as a doctor. She, along with all of these people, are a part of me. They inspire me, and I hope I have inherited some of their traits.”
Helping Others Discover Their Family Stories
Courtney Connolly believes we all have “cool” family stories, and she is dedicated to improving FamilySearch so everyone can easily discover these stories about their ancestors. “My goal is to create family tree experiences that help our patrons connect with their living and deceased relatives so that no matter what their family situation is, they feel they are part of a larger family and are never alone.” We are all grateful Courtney’s grandfather instilled within her a love of family history. That passion will keep her creating a positive experience for every person who visits the FamilySearch Family Tree.