Speakers' Biographies



 Matthew Bielawa was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut and is the Associate Registrar at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut.  Mr. Bielawa currently serves as Vice-President of the Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast, Inc.  

He earned a B.A. degree in Slavic and East European Studies from the University of Connecticut in 1989 and a M.A. degree in Slavic Languages and Literatures from New York University in 1994.  His research specialization is in Eastern Galicia / Western Ukraine.  Mr. Bielawa has visited Ukraine and Russia several times including a semester study at Leningrad State University.

He is webmaster of "Genealogy of Halychyna / Eastern Galicia," http://www.halgal.com, a site devoted to Polish and Ukrainian genealogical research in Eastern Galicia / Western Ukraine.

   

 
Dr. Mieczyslaw B. Biskupski was invested formally as the holder of the Stanislaus A. Blejwas Endowed Chair in Polish and Polish American Studies at Central Connecticut State University on October 28, 2002.  Hon. Przemyslaw Grudzinski, Polish Ambassador to the United States, joined CCSU President Richard L. Judd and other notables at the ceremony.

The author of thirteen books and dozens of prestigious journal articles and other commentary on Polish history and culture, Professor Biskupski is a specialist in modern Central Europe, particularly Poland, as well as international relations.

Prior to coming to CCSU, Dr. Biskupski was Professor of History and Graduate Professor International Studies at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.  Awarded a Yale Fellowship, Biskupski spent nine years in New Haven, earning his doctorate and teaching at his alma mater.  During his academic career, he has held visiting professorships at the University of Rochester (in both history and political science), served as Fulbright Research Professor at the University of Warsaw, and, in 1997, was a Fellow of the Central European University of Budapest.

Biskupski is the descendant of Polish soldiers, artists, and musicians who were forced to leave Russian Poland early in the 20th century for political reasons.  They settled in Brazil, whence they came to the United States.

Dr. Biskupski is the recipient of many academic and national awards, including the Honor Roll of Science by the Polish Ministry of Education, and the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.  He is the President of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America and past President of the Polish American Historical Association.

Dr. Biskupski is a 2004 recipient of the Polish American Historical Association's Mieczyslaw Haiman Award.  The honor, presented during a ceremony at the Polish Embassy in Washington, DC, is awarded annually to an American scholar for sustained contribution to the study of the Polish American ethnic group in the United States.

 
   




Michael Buryk is a publishing industry executive in New York City with more than 35 years of experience working for various companies, including The New York Times, McGraw-Hill and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.  In his free time, Mike is a writer and speaker whose research focuses on Lemko and Ukrainian genealogy and the history of Ukrainians in the United States.  He has a special interest in Schuylkill County, PA since his paternal grandparents came from the Lemko region of Poland and settled in the Forestville / Primrose area early in the 20th century.

Mike wrote  two articles on the history of Ukrainian Americans for the 1991 book, "The Ukrainian Heritage in America" published by UCCA.  More recently, his 2005 article, "Digging into Lemko Family History from the United States" appears in the genealogy section of the online site, Lemko.org.  His 2009 article in The Ukrainian Weekly, "To Find the Missing G:  My Trip to the Sanok Lands," chronicled his visit to the area of southeastern Poland from which his paternal grandparents emigrated.  In August of 2010, New Jersey-based FAMILY HISTORIAN TV featured Mike in a half-hour program that focused on Ukrainian genealogy.  He regularly speaks on the topic of Lemko and Ukrainian genealogy.

   



 

Tim Firkowski is a Professional Genealogist who has been researching for 11 years and specializes in Polish and French-Canadian genealogy.  He is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and was the 2010 /2011 President of the New England Chapter of APG.  He was a volunteer librarian for 9 years at the local Family History Center. 

H
e has been a consultant at various Ancestor Road Shows.  His research contributed to the publishing of the book "Crozetière de la France à l’Amérique” by Gaston Croisetière. 

Tim has traveled to Poland numerous times and researched in churches and archives.  Language backgrounds Spanish, French, German and Polish.


   


Aleksandra Kacprzak is a genealogical researcher in Poland.  Ms. Kacprzak is a graduate of Copernicus University in Toruń where she studied archival science. 

Having completed the Eastern European Genealogy course in Salt Lake City, she is the European correspondent and resource person for the PGSCTNE.   She is also a genealogical lecturer, member of various Polish genealogical societies and a licensed tour leader.

Aleksandra is the owner and operator of the genealogy research firm Genoroots in Poland.  She has been named the Ancestry.com consultant in Poland.


   


Shellee Morehead, PH.D., CG, studied evolutionary ecology and has extensive research, writing and teaching experience.  She is an adjunct faculty member at New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) and an independent genealogist, writer and speaker. 

Dr. Morehead has recently spoken at New England Regional Genealogical Consortium (NERGC) 2013, OGS 2012, The Genealogy Event and the Utah Genealogical Association Fall Conference. 

Her research specialties include Rhode Island, Italian and French-Canadian research and DNA project management.



   


Thomas Sadauskas has been actively conducting genealogy research since 2000 with a special focus on Eastern Europe.  All four of his grandparents and his father were born in Lithuania.  He has made several trips to Lithuania and Germany to do genealogy research and has been successful in reestablishing contact with relatives in Lithuania as well as making contact with newly uncovered ones.

Tom was privileged to be a member of the first group of genealogists to visit the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen, Germany in May, 2008 following the opening of the ITS archives to public access.  The ITS archives hold 50 million records on 17.5 million people including both Holocaust victims and survivors, forced laborers, and more than 8 million displaced persons (DPs).

He is a 2009 graduate of the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR).  Tom has made numerous presentations at various genealogy conferences including those organized by the Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast, Inc. (PGSCTNE), the Washington, D.C. Family History Center and the Baltimore Family History Center.  He is also a frequent contributor to the monthly Polish genealogy e-zine Gen Dobry!



 


Jonathan Shea, A.G.,
a native of New Britain, Connecticut, is a professor of foreign languages in the Connecticut Higher Education System.  His academic preparation in the field of languages and linguistics has been enriched by living experience in Europe and study at the Universidad de Madrid in Spain, St. Petersburg State University in Russia and the Uniwersytet Jagiellonski in Poland.

In addition to being a foreign language educator, Shea is a trained archivist and professional genealogist with specialization in Eastern Europe and Ireland and frequently lectures and presents workshops internationally on the topics of document translation and other linguistic issues, immigration history and European archival resources.  The founding President of the Polish Genealogical Society of Connecticut and the Northeast, Inc., he now serves as its Reference Archivist and as the long-time editor of its journal, Pathways and Passages.

He holds a B.S. degree in Spanish from Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. and an M.A. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst plus a M.L.S. in Library Science and Archival Management from Southern Connecticut State University.  In addition to the languages he teaches, Spanish, Polish and Russian, he also speaks Italian and French and has reading knowledge of Portuguese, Belarusian and Ukrainian.

He has over twenty years of experience in the field of genealogical research, documenting his own family (with roots in the former provinces of Łomża and Grodno, Poland and Counties Offaly and Mayo, Ireland) as well as the families of others.  The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has recognized him as an Accredited Genealogist in the field of Polish research.

His most recent publication Going Home:  A Guide to Polish-American Family History Research is a comprehensive reference work on genealogical research methodology.  He has also co-authored with William Fred Hoffman the two volume series In Their Words:  A Genealogist's Translation Guide, Volume I Polish, Volume 2 Russian.


   
   
 

Paul Valasek, D.D.S., is a three time graduate of Loyola University of Chicago, earning his Doctorate in Dentistry in 1984.  Born and raised in Chicago, he and his wife Andrea have always been interested in their ancestries and where their families came from in Europe.  Paul's first of numerous trips to Europe was in 1974 with his immigrant grandfather Joseph Valasek, a major turning point in his life.

Dr. Valasek has written numerous articles for genealogical publications, as well as being an international lecturer. He completed his first book, Haller's Polish Army in France (2006) which makes available long lost and obscure material detailing the formation of this fighting force of over 23,000 Polish Americans in World War I and the subsequent Polish Soviet War of 1919-1921.  He also has the most complete database of the army with over 3 million facts accumulated to date.

He has recently published his second book Titanic - Ocean Tragedy (2011), about Poles and the Titanic, once again making original early 20th century material available to an entire new audience of the 21st century.

Formal participation in genealogy began with his Presidency of the Polish Genealogical Society of American (PGSA), founder and treasurer /editor of the Czech and Slovak American Genealogical Society of Illinois (CSAGSI), founding member of the Moravian Historical Society, and a founding member of the popular Polish American Website,
www.PolishRoots.org.  

He has also served as a Director and Second Vice-President on the Illinois State Genealogical Society's Board as well as sitting for multiple terms on the board of the Polish Museum of America.  He served as a Director of the Chicagoland Czech American Community Center and currently is a Director of the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International, (CGSI), and Vice-President of the Czechoslovak Heritage Museum, Oakbrook, IL.