FamilySearch at a Glance
FamilySearch International is pleased to announce that Dennis C. Brimhall has taken over as the new chief executive officer, succeeding Jay L. Verkler, effective January 2, 2012. FamilySearch thanks Jay for his years of devotion to the department and gives a warm welcome to Dennis!
Dennis C. Brimhall has an impressive record of successful professional accomplishment and Church service. He received a bachelor of science degree in Zoology from Brigham Young University in 1972. He later received an MBA from Northwestern University. He began his career in 1974 working as an Associate Administrator at the University of Utah Medical Center and later as Chief Operating Officer at the Medical Center at University of California San Francisco and then as Chief Executive Officer at the University of Colorado Hospital.
Elder Brimhall has served in numerous Church callings, including full-time missionary to Auckland, New Zealand, elders quorum president, stake mission president, high councilor, stake president, and mission president.
Dennis was born in Provo, Utah on September 8, 1948. He married Linda Christensen in March 1971. They are the parents of four children.
Regarding his new assignment, Brimhall stated, “I am very excited to help lead the work of FamilySearch, to continue the great things that have been done and move forward in new directions as appropriate. FamilySearch provides services to millions of people worldwide. We really need to understand our customers’ needs and satisfy them. Our focus will be to ensure that FamilySearch’s customer experiences are really first rate.”
What follows is a question and answer session with Dennis….
Q. Tell us something about your own family history that’s meaningful to you.
A. Fortunately our family has done a lot of family history. We have everyone from the noble to the simple and I am sure a few scoundrels as well. Gideon Burdick was a drummer boy in George Washington’s army. Some say he was with Washington when Washington crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night 1776. Most of my family came west on the pioneer trail including Gideon’s daughter Rebecca Burdick Winters who is buried outside of Scottsbluff, Nebraska in a beautifully restored grave. Rebecca lived in Athens County, Ohio and with her husband Hiram Winters in Kirtland, Ohio.
Q. Why does FamilySearch’s CEO have a professional background in business management rather than genealogy? (This question isn’t meant to be offensive; rather, an opportunity to explain your particular role to everyday genealogists.)
A. Great question. Even though I have a working knowledge of genealogy and family history it is meager by comparison. Yet I have great experience in large complex organizations, and in helping them with effectiveness and vision. I spent most of my career in large academic medical centers. In that setting I was not qualified to do any of the jobs of those who worked in the hospital, such as surgeon, nurse, lab technician, and so forth. So my job was never to do the work but to create an organization that allowed those that worked there to do the best they could. I will probably never be a great genealogist, certainly not as good as those at FamilySearch, yet I feel I can create the environment where they can excel and where our patrons (much like the patients in the hospital) can get the best service possible.
Q. What will be your priorities moving forward?
A. We have lots of great tasks underway and on the horizon; the 1940 Census, the “Tree,” and billions of records to find, record, extract, index, and make available. Yet in all this doing we need to ensure simplicity and customer (patron) service that is amazing and delightful. Because of the great work of those that preceded us we are the custodians of billions of images and records. That carries with it a certain obligation. We must be the best steward of that gift, both for the seasoned genealogist and the newest, curious soul. Although I admit trying to do both can sometimes be a challenge.
I am by nature passionate about customer service and making sure we have a solid vision for the future. At some point in time we will be ancestors, and I don’t want my great, great grandchildren asking, “Why didn’t you do this?”
FamilySearch is excited to welcome Dennis on board!