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18 September 2019

Meet the President: James Sorenson

James Sorenson, current CGS President

In July 2019, CGS Board President Vicky Kolakowski stepped down and Vice President James Sorenson assumed the duties of president. For many longtime CGS members, Jim needs no introduction. He has served previously on the Board in various capacities, including as tech liaison. He’s been a member of the society since 2007, volunteering on the Research Committee, leading research trips to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and serving the society in many other ways. He was the project manager for the 2011 publication Insider’s Guide to California Genealogy.

In person, Jim is congenial and easygoing, with a dry sense of humor. He opened his first board meeting as President with the following comments:

“In the middle of the CGS logo is a ship under sail. I’m the new captain of that ship with its unpaid crew. Walking the plank and public flogging are not productive; I don’t have a sparkling personality. I do offer: reasoning, understanding, determination and guidance. As your leader, I’m now the highest paid member of CGS, an organization where all of the women are paid as much as the men.”

Make no mistake; this laid-back demeanor masks a sharp mind and numerous talents. Jim is extremely well versed in history, according to his friend and colleague Pat Smith. “If you mention a battle in the Civil War, he knows exactly when and where it happened, and who was there,” she says. Jim’s background is in finance; he worked for thirty-eight years with Lockheed Martin in the overhead budget, financial forecast and government finance arena. His expertise has been key in helping CGS to thrive and succeed as an organization. A life member of CGS and an early donor to the Capital Campaign, Jim strongly believes that the California Genealogical Society is an institution that contributes to our local community and to our collective history.

Jim’s interest in family history dates back to his high school years, and genealogy resurfaced as a serious pursuit in 1994. It’s been a series of adventures since then, with Jim discovering long-lost facts in both his own and his wife’s family trees. With the advent of DNA as a genealogical tool, Jim recently uncovered some more surprises in his family. “Genealogy isn’t for everyone,” he says. “You shouldn’t pursue it if you can’t handle the fact that your ancestors were human and that most families have secrets unknown to the current generation.”

Aye aye, Captain. It's good to have you at the helm.


Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

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