News Release

Keynote Speakers Announced for RootsTech 2022 

Acclaimed actor, boxer, baker and singer to share family stories

A handful of keynote speakers for the upcoming RootsTech 2022 family history conference have been announced by FamilySearch International. American actor Matthew Modine, Ghanaian boxing legend Samuel Azumah Nelson, French baker Apollonia Poilâne and Argentine singer Diego Torres are some of the featured speakers for the annual online event that will be held online March 3–5, 2022.

RootsTech-2022Download Photo

Matthew Modine

Aspiring actor Matthew Modine was working as a chef in a New York City restaurant frequented by the city’s elites when a chance encounter with a customer changed his life.

“I’d never seen any creature like her in my life, and I just fell in love at first sight,” he said of Caridad Rivera, now his wife of more than 40 years, whom he credits for giving him the confidence to become a successful actor.

Another chance encounter with FamilySearch International CEO Steve Rockwood led the star of films such as “Full Metal Jacket” and the Netflix hit series “Stranger Things” to an invitation to share his stories of human connection with the global RootsTech audience.

Modine will recount his life’s journey as a young boy in California and Utah, sharing his delightful discovery of how New York City is more of a homeland than an adopted home and the connections he has made along the way.

RootsTech-2022Download Photo

Samuel Azumah Nelson

Africa’s greatest boxing legend, Samuel Azumah Nelson, credits his ancestors for endowing him with the qualities that carried him to three featherweight world championships and a place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

“I need to show you where my courage and determination to succeed came from” he declared. “I am a proud Ghanaian with a Tabon DNA, power and spirit. You must be interested in your family history and to live the values it represents.” The Tabon were formerly enslaved people in Brazil. . With the abolishment of slavery in the late 1800s, his family made their way back to Africa.

“Zoom Zoom,” as Azumah is affectionately nicknamed, was pressed into labor at an early age, forgoing formal education to help provide for his family, including his parents and five siblings. He will tell a fascinating tale about how he rose from those humble beginnings to the pinnacle of his chosen sport.

RootsTech-2022Download Photo

Apollonia Poilâne

Apollonia Poilâne’s story is about tragedy, resilience, vision and triumph. But mostly, it is a story about family, connected through generations by a special loaf of sourdough bread known worldwide as pain Poilâne. The French baker is the third-generation owner of Paris’ most famous bakery.

“Bread links people. I love the bond it creates when people share it,” said Apollonia, who was raised in the bakery started by her grandfather Pierre Poilâne in 1932.

Tragedy struck when her parents were both killed in a helicopter crash when she was 18. She chose to carry on her family’s legacy but did not abandon her dream of a college education and, for several years, ran the business remotely while she earned an economics degree from Harvard University.

Today she is leading what can only be described as a baking empire, producing tens of thousands of signature loaves each month, along with a variety of other culinary treats.

RootsTech-2022Download Photo

Diego Torres

For three-time Latin Grammy Award-winning artist Diego Torres, music is a universal language that connects people through the generations. The son of legendary Argentine singer and actress Lolita Torres, Diego says music is everything because of its power to recall to mind life’s meaningful experiences.

“Like a perfume, music makes you think of a person, a story, a disappointment, or an encounter,” he said. “You see that you associate something to a song and when you play that song — it's as if you were there. It's like reliving the moment. The connection is very deep, very deep.”

In addition to his three Latin Grammy awards, Diego has won 10 Gardel awards, a significant and prestigious national award in Argentina, and he sold more than 20 million records around the world. But it is the stories of how his music reaches the hearts of his listeners that gives him the most satisfaction.

Learn more about the family stories of the keynote speakers during RootsTech 2022, the world’s largest family history conference, held virtually this year March 3–5. Register for free today at

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.