CeCe is an investigative genetic genealogist and media consultant. She has been a core production member as the full-time genetic genealogist of the PBS Television documentary series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. continually since 2013, and as a producer in Season Five (2019). CeCe is the founder of The DNA Detectives, with an online following of over 130,000 people. She joined forces with Parabon Nanolabs in May 2018 to create and lead their Genetic Genealogy Services for law enforcement unit, boasting the unparalleled record of over one hundred successful identifications in the first 22 months alone. Her work has led to the first conviction, the first conviction through jury verdict, and the first exoneration in criminal cases where the suspect was identified through investigative genetic genealogy. 

CeCe is an ABC News Consultant and collaborates regularly with 20/20, showcasing her cutting-edge work reuniting individuals of unknown parentage with biological relatives through genetic genealogy, and helping law enforcement to resolve cold cases. She has appeared frequently as a genetic genealogy expert on TV shows internationally, including 60 MinutesThe Dr. Oz Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Nightline, CBS This Morning, PBS NewsHour, Fox News, CNN International’s Smerconish, Dr. Phil, The Doctors, Finding Your Roots and Canada’s The Fifth Estate, and was recently named one of Orange County's most influential people by the Orange County Register

As a leading proponent of genetic genealogy education, CeCe is the co-founder of the Institute for Genetic Genealogy and has written the popular blog Your Genetic Genealogist since 2010. She has taken a leadership role in creating educational resources for the genetic genealogy community and was co-chair of the genetic genealogy standards committee, helping to create and teach the groundbreaking first genetic genealogy courses at the premier genealogical institutes, including Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research and Forensic Genealogy Institute. CeCe organized the Institute for Genetic Genealogy conferences, held in Washington D.C. in 2014, San Diego in 2016, 2017 and 2018, and Las Vegas in 2020. She created and runs the largest educational online DNA-focused forum, the DNA Detectives Facebook group, as well as administering many other genetic genealogy online groups, forums and mailing lists.

Throughout the last decade, CeCe has been considered an innovator and pioneer in the use of autosomal DNA to resolve unknown parentage and family mysteries, frequently consulted by DNA testing companies, genealogists, adoptees, law enforcement and the press. In recognition of her contributions to the field, CeCe has been appointed a 2019 - 2020 Non-Resident Fellow of the Du Bois Research Institute at Harvard's Hutchins Center. She has close working relationships with all of the major genetic genealogy testing companies, was invited to create and lead the Ancestry Ambassador program for 23andMe by their CEO, Anne Wojcicki in 2012, and has consulted for The New York Genome Project and MyHeritage's DNA Quest. She also served on the American Society of Human Genetics’ Genetic Ancestry Inference Committee.

CeCe has written regularly for The Root and PBS online and she has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, MIT Technology Review, The Guardian (UK), Le Monde (France), and Haaretz (Israel). Her work has also been featured in hundreds of articles and books, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Business Insider, Wired, The Atlantic, Los Angeles Times, Live Science, Fox News, People Magazine, Harper's Magazine, Washington Times, The Invisible History of the Human Race, The Foundling, and The Lost Family

She works extensively on a pro-bono basis with individuals of unknown parentage to help them learn about their genetic heritage, reuniting thousands with biological family members. Notably, CeCe led the research teams that solved the high profile cases involving amnesiac Benjaman Kyle and foundling Paul Fronczak.

CeCe is a Southern California native and attended the University of Southern California, studying on a full scholarship. Prior to her involvement in genetic genealogy, CeCe had been active in the entertainment industry for over two decades, performing leading roles in professional musical theatre such as West Side Story and Phantom and appearing in numerous television commercials, as well as producing and casting many advertising campaigns for broadcast. A longtime member of Screen Actors Guild (1993), CeCe has worked with celebrated director Francis Ford Coppola, Superstar Michael Jackson, actor and musician Jack Black, conductor Bill Conti, Mickey Rourke, Dennis Hopper, John Ratzenberger, Juliet Prowse, David Lynch, John Stamos, Carol Alt, Daniela Pestova, Dick Van Patten, Ed McMahon, and represented corporate giants such as Coca Cola, AT&T, Porsche, American Express and Mattel. She is also a member of Mensa. 

CeCe is the proud mom of a very talented fifteen year-old boy who loves genetic genealogy almost as much as she does. 

Click here for CeCe's public Facebook page
Wall Street Journal profile here
MIT Technology Review profile here
Bloomberg profile here
New York Times stories about CeCe's work here  and here
Le Monde profile here (France) 
Haaretz profile here (Israel)
The Guardian profile here (UK) 
Interview with Rebekah Canada here
Christine Kenneally article here
Post by Maud Newton here

The text of this page is available for modification and reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). A photo can be downloaded from WikiMedia Commons here for media use.


  1. I'm interested in your observations about the uniqueness of Finnish DNA. Both my grandparents were from Finland, Henry (Heikki Jarvinen) Freeman from Rautalampi and Maria Syrjala from Somero (typical Finnish accents omitted). I have only one uncle remaining from whom I could get a DNA test but doubt he would cooperate. I have done mtDNA full genealogical scan resulting in haplogroup U6a3a1 but the only close matches don't reply to email so may have passed away. This brings out the importance of those doing DNA testing to pass along access to the information and having someone who can reply to matches. I've also done the FTDNA FF test and have many matches but most of those don't have well developed traditional genealogies. Also, my own research has not yet revealed great grandparents in Finland. American cousins: Syrjala & Syrjanen in Fitchburg MA and Jarvinen in Flint MI don't seem inclined to share info.

    Cheers, Ray Whidden, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

  2. I enjoyed your panel session this morning at RootsTech. I only wish we'd had more time.

    The question I would have asked is: suppose I have a lock of hair, blood-stained fabric, or other material that might yield DNA from some long-dead known relative. How close are we to having reasonably-priced DNA tests that can take as input something other than a cheek swap or blood sample from a living person? Clearly this is already possible at least on a small scale in the lab, since for years we have been reading about the DNA of Neanderthals and of Otzi the Ice Man in the Alps.

  3. I enjoyed your presentation on DNA for adoptees yesterday. I was contacted by a woman a few months ago claiming to share great grand parents. Having actually known my great grandparents- and having done the family tree- I thought this was impossible. We compared genomes at 23 and me and sure enough we did share great grandparents. We were listed as 2nd cousins. She also matched my siblings, cousins and paternal aunt. Her father had been adopted in 1945 in Denver with the only information being that his biological mother had "health issues." We predicted that he must have been the son of my grandmother's only sister. We tested him and found his mitochondrial to be H2a2- exactly my aunts. We used location as well and found her in the Denver directory in 1945.
    We are now onto his father and will order a Y-DNA 111 test from Family Tree DNA. Hopefully we will at least get a surname.

  4. I enjoyed your presentation on DNA for adoptees yesterday at Rootstech. I received an email from a woman a few months ago who claimed to share great grandparents. I thought this impossible having known them and having done their tree. We compared genomes on 23 and me and we were a 2nd cousin match. She also matched my siblings, cousins and paternal aunt. Her father had been adopted in Denver in 1945. The only information he had on his mother was that she "had health issues." We looked at our family information and discovered that my grandmother's sister had lived there in 1945. We figured out that her dad should have H2a2 mitochondrial DNA if he were to be my grandmother's sister's son. Sure enough he came back H2a2. We are now onto the father and will order the Family Tree DNA Y-111 test to try to get a surname. Just wanted to let you know that everything you mentioned yesterday- DNA, a family tree, triangulation and location all contributed to solving part of this mystery.

  5. Enjoyed your episode on "Finding Your Roots" but, I have one question... Where can we get that great DNA necklace you are wearing on the episode?

  6. I read two astonishing recent news articles regarding DNA. Since I have been using Genealogy DNA for over 10 years in a surname study article, I am concerned these articles may impact on anyone doing a surname study and asking others to participate.
    1. Artificial Insemination Nightmare revealed through Genealogy DNA tests - Thomas Ray Lippert
    2. Familial Searching - Ancestry.com received a court order last summer requiring it to reveal a name to the police, although it is listed as “protected” in the Sorenson Y-chromosome database, according to court records obtained by The New Orleans Advocate.
    I have followed CeCe for a number of years and find her articles extremely interesting.

  7. I just found out on ancestry.com that COL Peter Jefferson is my 5th great grandfather and President Thomas Jefferson is my 5th great uncle. I don't know what to do with this information. P,ease contact me at Georgianbay6@yahoo.com

  8. Hi Cece, DecimalZero Here. After reading your DNA results, I now know you better then myself!! >Lol. Just noticed my Paternal Haplogroup changed to R-M512 since last looking at it in 2011. Amazing how much information is now available. I just joined your email list and look forward to reading your future articles. Be safe my friend. :)

  9. Hi CeCe, You have answered a question for me before about parents being related. I had my twin grandsons tested by FTDNA on the family finder test. They share 3384 centimorgans and also the same amount with their mother. Are they identical or fraternal twins? They do not look identical. I have seen conflicting information on the amount of shared centimorgans. some say 3384 and others 6600 for identical twins.

  10. Hi, can you please send me an email? You need to check to chromosome browser to see if they share all the way across every chromosome or just parts of each. They should also be fully identical, but you can't see that on Family Finder and need to upload to Gedmatch for that analysis.

    1. Hai, My name is Adrian YP from Indonesia. Today, I had a lot of my DNA Test results from FTDNA: Y111 STR's, BigY for Paternal Haplogroup - mtFULLSequences for Maternal Haplogroup, and (of course) FF for my Autosomal World Region. I want to share about the human Genealogical, Thanks.

  11. Hi Your Genetic Genealogist Team,

    My name is Anuj Agarwal. I'm Founder of Feedspot.

    I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog Your Genetic Genealogist has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 50 DNA Blogs on the web.


    I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 50 DNA Blogs on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!

    Also, you have the honor of displaying the badge on your blog.


  12. Do you have anyone that works for you that can help me with my already performed DNA analysis with ancestry? I'm wondering about the fees for analysis, etc. It sounds like you are pretty busy. I'm having a hard time with researching my Smith family and that's where I think the DNA stuff could be helpful since there are so many Smiths on the face of the planet!

    Thanks. Mary Jean Nelson.