The Board of Directors of Gesher Galicia 2021


Roslyn, NY, USA, PresidentSteven Turner

Steven Turner was already curious about Galicia as a small boy, when he spent the holidays davening at a Galitzianer shul with his grandparents in Brooklyn, NY. That was the start of his journey into genealogy, as he tried to prove that his family surname was never changed. He has written about this journey as a blogger for the Times of Israel and in various genealogical publications.

Steven is the founder of the Nadwórna Shtetl Research Group and is an active member of the Rohatyn and Sędziszów Małopolski Research Groups. Steven is quite devoted to preserving Jewish heritage and culture in the former lands of Galicia and partnered with the ESJF European Cemeteries Initiative to clean up and fence the Nadworna Jewish Cemetery. He is a member of the board of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Long Island as well as being a member of the JGS of NY. Steven does research on Ashkenazi DNA and is the project administrator of several Jewish DNA projects on FamilyTreeDNA.

A product of the New York City public schools, Steven has a BA in Sociology from Queens College and a D.D.S. from the NYU College of Dentistry. He has a private practice in General Dentistry and Facial Cosmetics in Howard Beach, NY.


Philadelphia, PA, USA, Vice President Andrew Zalewski

Andrew Zalewski is vice president of Gesher Galicia and a frequent speaker at meetings of Jewish genealogical societies and cultural and academic institutions in the US and abroad. His interest and writings have focused on Jewish cultural transformation, educational access, modernizing impact of Jewish physicians, and Jewish political and legal rights in Galicia. Unique archival records—population surveys, maps, and old newspapers—provide the background for his in-depth description of Galicia.

He authored two books on Austrian Galicia: Galician Trails: The Forgotten Story of One Family and Galician Portraits: In Search of Jewish Roots, in which he traced the story of his ancestors in a historical context.

Andrew Zalewski is a former professor of medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.



Los Angeles, CA, USA, Chief Financial Officer/TreasurerDarcy Stamler

Darcy Stamler has been researching her family’s history since 2010, an endeavor that started with a ship manifest from Ellis Island and the subsequent settlement of Galician-born grandparents in New York City’s Lower East Side, and which led in 2018 to the surprising discovery of an extensive line of family members in Israel. In recent years she has become actively engaged in Jewish heritage preservation projects in Ukraine.

Darcy was born in New York and has also lived primarily in the San Francisco Bay, Washington DC, and Los Angeles areas. Her professional career has included management positions at several large entertainment and media companies, and she has owned and operated a Los Angeles-based marketing agency since 2004. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Los Angeles, and a master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley.


Bethesda, MD, USA, SecretaryMilton Koch

Milton Koch was born in Havana Cuba, where his parents emigrated from Lisbon, in 1942, after leaving Luxembourg following Eichmann’s invasion of that country. They were in Cuba, awaiting entry to the US, which came about in 1946. He has been working on his family genealogy for the past 15 years, that began with opening up some boxes in his basement and finding previously unknown vital records that started him in his searches. He has been acquiring records and related documents for his family research since then. He has been active in the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington and has contributed to their journal. He is a retired physician, having specialized in gastroenterology. He supports work in cystic fibrosis by actively fund-raising and through advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill, inspired by a family member who has this disease. He is married, with three children and three grandchildren.


Ottawa, ON, Canada, Board Member
John Diener

John Diener, the son of a Galician-born Holocaust survivor, has been researching his family roots for more than 20 years. As shtetl leader for his father’s birth town of Grzymałów (Hrymailiv, Ukraine), he has indexed records from that region.

John is vice-president of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Ottawa, and with its president, has photographed and databased the 6000 gravestones in the two Ottawa Jewish cemeteries, as well as those in Kingston and Cornwall, Ontario and nearby Massena and Ogdensburg, New York. In 2005, he co-sponsored the photographing of gravestones in Zhvanets, Ukraine. For several years, he also wrote a monthly column on genealogy entitled “Connecting the Branches” for the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin.

Through his genealogical research, he has reunited hundreds of his family members whose branches have had little or no contact for decades.

Outside genealogy, John is treasurer of two local community-owned Jewish cemeteries, and has volunteered for a number of social service agencies and business associations in the Canadian capital.


Bath, England, Board MemberChristina Hilsenrath

Christina Hilsenrath grew up with her mother’s stories about her childhood in Berlin, her family holidays in Galicia, her escape to England on the Kindertransport and the murder of most of her Galician family in the holocaust. But it was only when Christina inherited her grandmother’s photograph album and family papers that she started to research her Galician family’s history in earnest. Through extensive research and visits to Lviv, Warsaw, Berlin, Brazil and Israel, Christina was able to find living descendants, put names to photographs and commemorate lives that had been erased.

Christina has contributed to the Galitzianer and presented on WW1 military records at our Symposium in Warsaw in 2018. She has a particular interest in Holocaust records and research, as well as building links with educational and research organizations in Europe.

Christina has a BA in history from Cambridge University, and worked in health service improvement. She lives in Bath, England, where she is also chair of the Jewish Burial Ground, the only remaining physical site of Bath’s once active Jewish community. She is currently leading the restoration of the Burial Ground and researching its history and the lives of the people buried there.


Boca Raton, FL, USA, Board MemberMarkJacobson

Mark Jacobson has been tracing his family for more than 30 years, starting with a paper and pencil tree created during a Passover holiday with his Galician immigrant grandparents. Mark has been active on the board of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County for more than 10 years, including four years as Secretary and four years as President. He also serves as their Galicia SIG leader, writes for their publication, Scattered Seeds, and presents programs at meetings and annual mini-conferences. Mark is JRI-Poland town leader for the Galician towns of Borysław and Drohobycz, where his grandfather was born. Mark led an independent project to index early Drohobycz records filmed by the LDS at the Lviv Archive. Additionally Mark is Ukraine SIG town leader for Belaya Tserkov.

Mark grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He has a BA in History from Brooklyn College and an MS in Science with Specialization in Counseling from Hofstra University. With his sister he runs a small business doing Feng Shui as well as genealogy research for private clients.


London, UK, Board MemberTony Kahane

Tony has been involved with genealogical and historical research for over 20 years, on both Galician and Austrian/Czech towns. On Galicia, he led indexing projects on records from several towns, including Zbaraż, where his father was born, and Tarnopol. Tony served as Gesher Galicia Chair between 2015 and 2019. He is currently Gesher Galicia’s Research Coordinator and frequently visits Poland and Ukraine in this role.

Tony has a special interest in Galician records from the Holocaust period. He has presented papers at IAJGS conferences and at the international conferences organized since 2017 in southeastern Poland on “Jews in Galicia”.

Tony worked previously as a writer and editor, at one time on Asian affairs and later with UN agencies on health issues. He also lectured in the social sciences at the University of London, UK.


Severna Park, MD, USA, Board MemberShelley Pollero

Shelley Kellerman Pollero has been researching her family’s history for over 50 years. She has been part of Gesher Galicia since before its official founding in 1993 and served as Coordinator from 1998 to 2005. Under her leadership, the GG website and Galicia Discussion Group on JewishGen were started. Currently, she is Gesher Galicia’s Membership Chair and PayPal administrator. She co-presents “Galicia Basics: What Every Galitzianer Needs to Know” at IAJGS Conferences.

Outside of Gesher Galicia, Shelley is Zamosc Research Area Coordinator for JRI-Poland, having been the Zamosc Town Leader for many years. Shelley has transcribed Polish and Russian vital records and organized Translation Services at four IAJGS conferences.

Shelley is a past president of Anne Arundel Genealogical Society (Maryland), presents Jewish family research talks and leads a weekly genealogy group on Zoom. She is a longtime member of the JGS of Greater Washington, New York, Maryland, Brooklyn, Central Maryland and Long Island.

In 1971, she moved to the Annapolis, Maryland, area where she raised two children and has three grandchildren. Shelley taught French and Spanish and was World Languages Department Head in Howard County (Maryland) before retiring in 2007.


Dix Hills, NY, USA, Board MemberRenee Steinig

Renée Steinig began to do genealogical research in the late 1970s, inspired by a cousin in Israel who made it look easy. Many family trees and some 18 years later, she went on to accept client work. Her specialties include New York research, location of lost friends and family, and due diligence for probate cases. She is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists and has testified as an expert witness in New York City courts.

Her personal research interests include towns throughout Galicia, many of which she has visited. In 2008, she also participated in the ground-breaking genealogical research trip to the International Tracing Service archives (now Arolsen Archives) in Bad Arolsen, Germany.

An original member of Gesher Galicia, Renée has been the Gesher Galicia discussion group moderator since 2006 and more recently became editor of Gesher Galicia’s Family Finder. Along with Shelley Pollero, she has spoken at several IAJGS conferences about the basics of Galician research. Renée was a session chair at the 2018 AGAD-Gesher Galicia Symposium in Warsaw and currently participates in GG’s Przemysl Identification Project. She is also Mielec town leader for Jewish Records Indexing-Poland and the president of the Young Tluster Society, one of New York’s few surviving landsmanshaftn.

A native New Yorker, Renée is a graduate of Barnard College. She is a past president and longtime board member of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Dix Hills Jewish Center.


Gesher Galicia is a non-profit organization carrying out Jewish genealogical and historical research on Galicia, formerly a province of Austria-Hungary and today divided between southeastern Poland and western Ukraine. The research work includes the indexing of archival vital records and census books, Holocaust-period records, Josephine and Franciscan cadastral surveys, lists of Jewish taxpayers, and records of Galician medical students and doctors - all added to our searchable online database. In addition, we reproduce regional and cadastral maps for our online Map Room. We conduct educational research and publish a quarterly research journal, the Galitzianer.

You can search our free All Galicia Database, Map Room, and archival inventories, and read about member benefits starting at $36 per year. You can also join online.

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