Thursday, June 4, 2015
Meet the Sponsor: Genlighten
Cynthia and Dean Richardson are the owners of Genlighten. Their service is different and, I believe, a much-needed one in the field of genealogy (click on their logo above to get to their website). I asked Cynthia some questions about their company and think our readers will find the answers (g)enlighten(ing):
You and your husband Dean own Genlighten. When did you start the business?
Answer: We launched Genlighten.com in October of 2009 and the current website
went live in early 2011. Dean is working hard on a new version of
Genlighten—simpler, but more powerful—and we’ll be giving visitors to
the Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree a chance to
preview it this coming weekend.
Your service is unique...how/why did you come up with the concept?
Answer: Genlighten grew out of my chicagogenealogy.com experience. I created
the website to offer quick, affordable record retrieval in Chicago
with a commitment to high-quality customer service. It wasn’t long
before I had quite a number of very happy clients and they started
asking how they could find researchers like me in other places. People
also asked how they could start a business similar to mine.
Dean and I realized that a website that made it simple for people who
needed research help to connect with people who wanted to share their
research expertise would be a useful tool for the genealogical
community and we decided to build it.
How do you find the people who help search out records?
Answer: So far, we’ve mostly recruited new providers by exhibiting at major
genealogy conferences. Once the new version of the site launches,
we’ll be stepping up our efforts to fill out the network using print
ads and online advertising. Word of mouth also helps. If you know of
someone who would make a good Genlighten provider, please send them
In what locations do you have service providers?
Answer: The best way to answer that question is for you to go to Genlighten
and do a quick search. We have strong providers in many states
including (but not limited to) California, Illinois, Indiana,
Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Washington, D.C. We also have providers
in Europe and Canada.
What qualifications do you want your providers to have?
Answer: From amateur enthusiasts to transitional genealogists to long-time
professionals, we welcome providers with varying levels of experience
because we believe that there are research tasks that can be
successfully handled by all of them. We do, however, expect our
providers to limit their offerings to their areas of expertise.
To be successful on Genlighten, providers need to be able to reply to
client messages quickly; to communicate in a friendly and professional
way; to have the discipline needed to follow through on research
promises in a timely manner; to be able to create high-quality digital
images; and to have the writing skills necessary to provide quality
If someone wants to sign on to be a provider, how does he/she go about
Answer: The steps to advertising research services on Genlighten are pretty
simple. Sign up for a Genlighten account, add provider tools, create a
provider profile page, and set up some research offerings. I’m
available to help new providers with any or all of those steps and I’m
always happy to offer guidance based on my years of offering Chicago
How does one go about getting service from Genlighten?
Answer: Search our provider list or browse by locality or repository to find
someone in the area where you need research with the expertise you
need. Once you’ve identified a potential provider, create a free
account and submit a project proposal through the site. Every project
has a dedicated tracking page that keeps requests, proposals, quotes,
messages, payments, document images, and reports in one easy-to-find
How does Genlighten help people find ancestors more economically than
hiring a single professional genealogist?
Answer: Our providers set their own fees and, depending on the project,
Genlighten might or might not be the most economical way to find the
research help you need. We’d encourage people to shop around. Just
remember, cost is just one of many things to think about when hiring a
When you arrange a project through Genlighten you have access to
something that sets us apart—our provider rating system. Researchers
on our site earn feedback from the clients they serve and building
reputation is one key to getting work through Genlighten. You can
review provider ratings before hiring someone to handle your project
and you can leave feedback once your project is done. The system is
simple but it offers powerful motivation for providers to follow
thorough on research promises in a timely and professional way.
Anything else you want to add?
Answer: We’re all about great customer service! If you have questions about
the site, ask! We’d be glad to answer them. If you want help setting
up a provider profile page, email us! We’d be happy to give you some
guidance. If you need help finding the right person to take on your
project, check with us! We’d be delighted to help you make the right
connection. If you’re not happy with how your project is progressing,
tell us! We’ll do our best to help you and the provider work out a
mutually agreeable solution to whatever doesn’t seem quite right. We
want clients and providers to have a good experience on Genlighten and
we will do whatever we can to make that happen.
Thank you, Cynthia and Dean, for being a sponsor of the Gena and Jean Genealogy Journey Cruise 2015 to Ensenada. We look forward to seeing Genlighten grow as the word spreads about your company . . . it is certainly an asset to the genealogy community.
I am a native of Illinois and grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. After dropping out of college, I moved to California in 1973 with my first husband. I married my present husband, Butch, in 1977 and got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me a grandmother 25 times over and a great-grandmother of 19. Three years after I married Butch I returned to school. I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication and was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 to return to school and get my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore and genealogy - and add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play a number of folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega with Genealogy Journeys where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that can be found at http://genaandjean.blogspot.com and more about my own business projects is on my Circlemending website.