Meet the Team | Your DNA Guide

Diahan Southard, Founder and CEO, Genetic Genealogy Expert and Educator

Diahan Southard knows firsthand what a difference it can make to know where you came from. What started off as an educational and career interest in genetic genealogy became deeply personal when she used DNA to discover her mom’s birth parents and connect with new relatives.

Now she has 20+ years of genetic genealogy experience. She built her company, Your DNA Guide, to show that learning DNA doesn’t have to be intimidating, frustrating, or require a college degree in biology. Her goal is to teach you to “Do the DNA”–and feel confident and have fun in the process!

Diahan teaches internationally, writes for popular magazines, authored Your DNA Guide–The Book, and produces Your DNA Guide–the Academy, an online learning experience. Contact Diahan’s office.

Administrative Team

Kelli Bergheimer, Academy Director and Genetic Genealogy Coach

With a degree in biology and a Master’s in Education, Kelli knows a thing or two about teaching DNA! She also does DNA research and report editing for Legacy Tree Genealogists; is Director of Curriculum and Assessments for a textbook company; and runs an online DNA interest group. A popular speaker internationally: she was the most-watched presenter for the global RootsTech 2023 event. She’s also a contributing writer for Your DNA Guide.

Kathie Knoll, Marketing Director

Kathie Knoll is a veteran marketing and communications strategist in the family history/genetic genealogy community (prior experience at and Relative Genetics). She has degrees in both business and history. After managing Your DNA Guide–the Academy, Kathie now takes the lead on our marketing team.

Sunny Morton, Content Director

Sunny uses her award-winning writing and editing talents to plan and create content for our blog and other communications. She is an internationally known speaker; Contributing Editor of Family Tree Magazine, past Editor of Ohio Genealogy News; instructor for the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (2024); and co-author of How to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records.

Katie Crichton, Academy Assistant

Katie Critchton is delighted to join Your DNA Guide as an Academy Assistant. Katie has over 20 years of genealogy experience. She holds a certificate in genealogical research from Boston University and has completed the ProGen Study Groups program, as well as numerous institute courses. Katie specializes in British and Irish research and the colonial U.S. South. She also enjoys applying her background in molecular biology to solve challenging genetic genealogy problems. She is currently an Advanced Researcher at Legacy Tree Genealogists and has served as the secretary of ProGen Study Groups since 2021.

Stephanie Lazo, Project and Customer Experience Manager

As part of the Your DNA Guide team, Stephanie assists with customer service accounts, webinar project management, and with administrative tasks for the Academy. Stephanie has a Bachelor’s degree in Professional Studies with an emphasis on Family History Research from Brigham Young University–Idaho.

Amber Oldenburg, Social Media Manager

At Your DNA Guide, Amber maintains our social media presence and works to develop and implement engaging content. When not working on Your DNA Guide’s social media strategy, she can be found traveling the country with her family or reading a history book.

Melanie Mohler, Blog Manager

Melanie manages the Your DNA Guide Blog. She works closely with Your DNA Guide customers and staff to help easily explain topics relating to DNA testing and share DNA success stories on the blog. Melanie is also the Editor of Ohio Genealogy News, and is currently pursuing an M.A. in Applied History and Public Humanities.

Jessica Rea, Affiliates Manager and Customer Service Specialist

Jessica assists with customer service and our affiliate program. She graduated with bachelor’s degrees in Biology and Classical Civilization from UCLA. In her free time, she can be found reading or watching tv, most likely with a cat on her lap.

Danielle Francis, Events Manager

Dani coordinates live events for Your DNA Guide, manages relationships with our awesome affiliate partners, and assists with customer service. She has a bachelor’s degree in Public Health from Brigham Young University and is working towards becoming an occupational therapist. When she gets a spare moment she can be found working on a DIY home project or listening to an audiobook.

Science Team

Jayne Ekins, Advisor

Jayne has 19 years of experience in the field of genetic genealogy, beginning with the pioneering Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. She has participated in field specimen collection, marker selection and assay design, data management and computational processes, analysis and algorithms, and investigating population-level research questions. Jayne has lectured throughout the United States and internationally on the applications of molecular biology to elucidating ancient and recent genealogical connections. She has authored and co-authored many peer-reviewed scientific publications and general articles on genetic genealogy. Read Your DNA Guide articles by Jayne.

Pamela Cornwell, Genetic Genealogy Support Coach

Pam comes to Your DNA Guide after 22 years of professional teaching experience, a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education degree. She was infected with the genetic genealogy bug when she and her paternal uncle embarked on the adventure of uncovering identities of missing and previously unknown ancestors. Hoping to make sense of their DNA results, Pam enrolled in Diahan Southard’s Y-DNA course during which she discovered the names and histories of paternal great grandparents no one in the family had ever known before. Now Pam serves as a Coach combining her honed teaching skills with her passion to support others heading into their own DNA mystery adventures.

Connie Davis, Genetic Genealogy Coach

Connie participated in all three pilot courses for the Your DNA Guide Academy and now supports others as they learn how to “Do the DNA.” In addition to her work as a coach at Your DNA Guide, Connie provides professional genealogy services for individual clients and genealogy education. Connie’s interest in family history started with her grandmother, and continued through her 40-year career as a nurse and educator. With a Master’s in Nursing, it was natural for Connie to focus on DNA and supporting people who have discovered surprises in their DNA. Connie’s personal research includes the colonial United States, southern United States, the Midwest, Canada and her California pioneer ancestors. She has experience in African American research and a commitment to reparative genealogy.

Michelle Leonard, Genetic Genealogy Coach

Michelle is a Scottish professional genealogist, DNA detective, speaker, author and historian with a wealth of international experience in both the traditional and genetic genealogy fields. Her first involvement with DNA came in 2009 when she worked on the ground-breaking ‘Fromelles Genealogy Project’ tracking down appropriate DNA donors to identify WWI soldiers buried in a mass grave in France and she has been immersed in using DNA for family history ever since! She runs her own genealogy and DNA consultancy business, Genes & Genealogy, specializing in solving all manner of unknown parentage and unknown ancestor mysteries using a combination of DNA expertise and traditional research methodologies. She also undertakes conventional family history research, media consultation, lecturing, coaching, podcasts, webinars, the creation and teaching of DNA courses and article, blog and book writing commissions. Michelle is also a co-author of Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA: A Guide For Family Historians and is a consultant genetic genealogy coach and instructor for the Your DNA Guide Academy.

Lori Napolitano, Genetic Genealogy Coach

After Lori graduated from Northwestern University with a master’s degree in Chemistry, she taught high school science, and then she stumbled into the world of Forensic Science, even before CSI! She changed direction and spent 31 years with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, splitting her time between forensics and investigations. When she retired, she was Chief of Forensic Services in Orlando and had created a very successful statewide Investigative Genetic Genealogy program.  Bringing her ‘hobby’ to work and solving over a dozen violent crime cold cases was amazing!

Laura Sandidge, Genetic Genealogy Support Coach

Laura is a life long learner that enjoys all things DNA, genealogy, and education. She comes to Your DNA Guide with over 25 years experience in the business and education field. Even after a BA in History, MA and PhD in general and Special Education, loads of research classes and well over 35 genealogical institutes and study groups, Laura would be the first to admit there is always something new to learn! She strongly feels that targeted and specific education can lead to a new way to approach a problem or spark an idea that could solve a long-standing problem. Laura loves doing genetic research and since she has taken pretty much every targeted and specific education class that Diahan has taught, it was only logical that she joined our team!

Laura Sandidge

Sonja Sarantis, Genetic Genealogy Support Coach

Sonja is a UK qualified lawyer with over 25 years corporate legal experience who holds Bachelors Degrees in Mathematics and Law. She is also a part-time genetic genealogist who runs her own consultancy business, Lady Geni, and is passionate about solving unknown parentage cases and reparative genealogy.  Her genealogy research is focused mainly in England, Scotland and South Africa. She is an Associate Member of AGRA, a Student Member of RQG and IHGS, a member of the Guild of One Name Studies and writes occasional book reviews for the Society of Genealogists in the UK.