Debbie is experienced using DNA analysis, as well as more traditional techniques, for genealogical research. She holds Certified Genealogist® and Certified Genealogical LecturerSM credentials, certificate
No. 1004, renewed, expires 13 September 2020, from the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG).
Debbie is the co-author with Blaine T. Bettinger of the first DNA workbook for genealogists, Genetic Genealogy in Practice, published in 2016 by the National Genealogical Society (NGS). She is the author of the online, self-paced course Continuing Genealogical Studies: Autosomal DNA, offered by NGS since 2015. She is the DNA Project Chair for the Texas State Genealogical Society guiding the newly created Early Texans DNA Project focusing on autosomal, Y-DNA, and mtDNA of descendants of those who arrived in Texas prior to statehood. She writes the "Genetic Genealogy Journey" column for NGS Magazine and has done so since 2013.
Debbie was the first course coordinator for Genetics for Genealogists: Beginning DNA and Tools and Techniques for Genetic Genealogy at the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), Practical Genetic Genealogy at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP), and Getting Started with Genetic Genealogy at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG). She was a frequent DNA instructor for the Forensic Genealogy Institute sponsored by the Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy. She has presented at the National Genealogical
Society and Federation of Genealogical Societies conferences, International Genetic Genealogy Conference, Angelina College (Lufkin, Texas) Genealogy Conference, Family Tree DNA Project Administrator’s Conference, Southern California Jamboree DNA Day, other courses and workshops on genetic genealogy and traditional research.
- won second place in the Texas State Genealogical Society’s Writing Competition 2016 for Genetic Genealogy in Practice co-authored with Blaine T. Bettinger,
- won second place in the Dallas Genealogical Society’s “Writing Competition 2012,”
- and won third place in the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors’ “2012 Excellence in Writing Competition.”
Her other publications include articles in Texas State Genealogical Society journal Stirpes
, NGS Magazine
, APG Quarterly
, Digital Genealogist
, Dallas Genealogical Society journal Pegasus
, New Mexico State Genealogical Society journal, and others.
Debbie has worked on multiple genealogical television series. In 2008, before the recent popularity of genealogy-related shows, Debbie worked on an episode of the Canadian series Ancestors in the Attic. This episode featured the descendants of a slave family in Smith County, Texas, who had migrated to Canada. In 2011, Debbie worked on an episode of the PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr. featuring a descendant of another East Texas slave family. This episode with Ruth Simmons, president of Brown University, was broadcast on 29 April 2012. Additional research has been done for Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are?.
Debbie’s DNA research focuses on research into her own family project which includes Y-DNA, mtDNA, X-DNA, and autosomal DNA studies. Her traditional research focuses on Texas, the Southwest, and the Southern U.S.
Debbie is a past Trustee for the BCG Education Fund, a past board member and Advocacy Committee Chair of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), and past president of the Lone Star Chapter of APG.
Genealogical training includes:
Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR):
- "Advanced Methodology and Evidence Analysis" taught by
Elizabeth Shown Mills, Helen F. M. Leary, Craig R. Scott,
and Dr. John Philip Colletta (2003).
- "Land Records" taught by
Christine Rose, Birdie Monk Holsclaw, and many others (2005).
- "Writing and Publishing for Genealogists" taught by
Helen F. M. Leary, Dr. Thomas W. Jones,
Dr. John Philip Colletta, and many others (2006).
- "Advanced Library Research: Law Libraries and Government Documents" taught by
Ben Spratling III, Ann Fleming,
Kay Freilich, Chuck Sherrill, and Claire Bettag (2007).
- "Advanced Military Research III: Mexican War and Civil War" taught by
Craig R. Scott, Rick Sayre,
Pamela Boyer Sayre, and J. Mark Lowe (2008).
- "Professional Genealogy" taught by
Elissa Scalise Powell, Dr. Thomas W. Jones,
J. Mark Lowe, and others (2009).
- "The Five Civilized Tribes: The Records & Where to Find Them" taught by
Linda Woodward Geiger, Dr. Debra Osborne Spindle, Anita Finger-Smith, Angela Walton-Raji and others (2013).
Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG):
- "Advanced Methodology" taught by
Dr. Thomas W. Jones, Claire Bettag, and Rick Sayre (2011).
National Archives Workshop
offered by the
Regional In-depth Genealogical Studies Alliance (Fort Worth, 2011).
Forensic Genealogy Institute
offered by the
Council for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy. Debbie taught the "Forensic Techniques for Genetic Genealogy" sessions (2012, 2013, 2014, 2016) and attended:
- Foundations in Forensic Genealogy (2012).
- Advanced Forensic Analysis (2014).
"American Genealogy: A Basic Course" offered by the
- "Kinship Theory I," a college level genealogical course, taught by
Dr. Carolyn Earle Billingsley.
- ProGen Study Group – a nineteen-month collaborative group study program using Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills. In addition to completing the course work, Debbie was the coordinator for the second study group formed.
- Numerous seminars attended during national
and regional conferences such as FGS, NGS, GENTECH, Angelina
College Genealogy Conference, and others.
DNA training includes:
Family Tree DNA Annual Project Administrator's Conferences for multiple years.
Self-study and non-credit courses on biology and genetics offered through Udacity and Coursera.