Latter-day Saint Life

RootsTech 2020 Keynote Speakers to Include Elder Stevenson, Former NFL Player Emmitt Smith, "The Blind Side" Mom and More


RootsTech 2020 is pulling out the stops for its annual family history conference this year.

Held at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City from February 26–29, keynote speakers include Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Sister Lesa Stevenson, former NFL player Emmitt Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist David Hume Kennerly, comedian Ryan Hamilton, and adoption advocate Leigh Anne Tuohy.

Here’s more about the lineup of keynote speakers participating in the 10th anniversary of the conference and what you need to know about them.

Emmitt Smith

NFL all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith has won three Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys and will be speaking at RootsTech on February 29. The Hall of Fame Inductee and 2006 winner on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars also runs many businesses in real estate, construction, and technology.

In 2010, Smith learned about his American slave ancestors on the television show Who Do You Think You Are? and discovered that his ancestors originally hailed from Africa.

“Emmitt is a passionate individual and one of the best examples of determination and grit—two traits that are often found in many of our ancestral stories, including Emmitt’s,” said RootsTech director Jen Allen in a news release. “Besides all of his accolades and accomplishments, he is a really good person. He loves his family and is deeply grounded in simply being good. We can’t wait to feel his enthusiasm on the RootsTech stage.”

Leigh Anne Tuohy

As the person who inspired both the book and movie The Blind Side, Tuohy will be speaking at RootsTech on February 27. Tuohy has long been “an advocate of adoption and charitable giving” and spoke at Utah Valley University in 2010, Deseret News reported.

“Her story captured hearts across the country, and it demonstrates the type of person she is,” said Allen in a news release. “She has a powerful understanding of the meaning of family, inclusion and supporting one another.”

Ryan Hamilton

Speaking on February 28 is Ryan Hamilton, a clean comedian who has appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and Conan. In 2017, a Netflix special featured the Idaho native and BYU alumnus who has also frequently performed at the Comedy Club in New York City. Additionally, Hamilton has opened for Jim Gaffigan and Jerry Seinfeld and was named one of Rolling Stone’s “Five Comics to Watch.”

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Ryan Hamilton: Happy Face | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

David Hume Kennerly

A Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, Kennerly has been featured on more than 50 magazine covers. His work includes “some of the last photos of Senator Robert Kennedy while declaring victory in the California presidential primary,” according to the RootsTech website.

The photographer has also captured the Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier II fight in Madison Square Garden held on March 8, 1971. Kennerly’s photos of the Vietnam War won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1972, and he has photographed every president since Richard Nixon.

Find out more information or register for the conference at

Lead image a collection of photos from RootsTech and