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National Executive Committee (NEC) 2023

The National Council shall consist of the National Executive Committee (elected and co-opted members) and all Branch Chairpersons and Vice-chairpersons, or their nominated  representatives, as ex officio members, and all such members shall be current and fully paid-up members of the Society
 Hendrik Louw
 Wilhelm Bernhardt
 Vice President 
 Gauteng North
 Ellen Harmse
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 Gauteng North
 Glynis Steer
 Petro Coreejes-Brink
 Additional Member
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 Gina Shepherd
 Appointed Member
 GSSA National Familia Editor
 Germaine Smith
 Appointed Member
 GSSA National Webmaster
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 Vaal Trianlge (Chairman)


President - Hendrik Louw 2023

Hendrik LOUWI was born on 9 September 1959 in Kenhardt as the second child (four sons) of Willem Jacobus Nicolaas Louw and Elizabeth Maria de Waal.
My childhood days on the farm Loogkolk where I grew up were carefree. We had to help from an early age, but also had the wide open landscape to play. In my pre-school years, Bushmanland experienced serious drought. Like many farmers, my parents temporarily went to seek grazing in South West Africa; my mother's parents hailed from Suidwes (Southwest).
I started Sub A in Kenhardt, but in Sub B we had a dry year again and it was back Southwest. In 1968 I returned to the Bushmanland and completed my school career in Kakamas at Martin Oosthuizen High School.
After school I went to Bloemfontein where I obtained a B.Com degree from the University of the Orange Free State (UOFS). In 1986, I married Sharon Gail Lockhart. We have three children, Chantel, Jaco and Sindy.
After 39 years in banking, I started my own real estate firm (HESHA Properties) HE = Hendrik + SHA = Shar in Kempton Park where we still live.
The Genealogy bug bit me when I had to write down the names of Oupa Izaak Jacobus Louw’s siblings around 1970. Although he could remember sixteen (he died at the age of 103 in 1990), research shows that there were at least 22 children. In 2009 I served for the first time as president of the Genealogical Society of South Africa (GSSA). I still handle GSSA's product portfolio.

Vice President - Wilhelm Bernhardt 2023

Wilhelm BernhardtWilhelm Bernhardt was born on 7 January 1970 in the Provincial Hospital in Belfast in the erstwhile Transvaal, the eldest son of Wilhelm Bernhardt and Jacomina Johanna Venter. His childhood was mostly spent in the village of Waterval Boven where his parents were teachers. He matriculated in 1987 at Belfast.
In 1990 he obtained a degree in Political Science from the University of Pretoria (Tukkies), followed by an Honours degree in Political Science. He joined the National Intelligence Agency in 1992, currently the State Security Agency. In 1998 he obtained a Master's degree in Political Science at the University of Stellenbosch and in 2004 completed his D.Phil at Tukkies, again in Political Science.
Wilhelm's predilection for history and genealogy was especially fueled by his maternal grandfather, Willem Frederik Venter. Grandpa Willem, a particularly intelligent man and farmer from the Machadodorp district, knew the history and stories of his ancestors at his fingertips, and retold them on countless times to his children and grandchildren.
Wilhelm, who married Isabel Nel in the year 2000, already has published several genealogical publications, including his magnum opus that appeared in 2015: "Die Familiegeskiedenis van Corli en Anica Bernhardt" (The Family History of Corli and Anica Bernhardt). In it he explores the ancestry and history of his two daughters on both the paternal and maternal side (32 families in total), down to the respective patriarchs and mothers.
He is a strong supporter of a holistic approach to genealogy, and thus promotes pedigree research, as well as the broader concept of science-based family history writing. In 2020 he won the GSSA's award for best article in Familia, and in 2021 he was elected chairman of the GSSA's Northern Transvaal branch. When he is not engaged in genealogy, he spends his free time writing history, collecting books, restoring classic cars, riding motorcycles, travelling with his wife, snooping in antique shops and markets, and just hanging out in his garage to tinker with all sorts of things.

Treasurer - Ellen Harmse 2023

Ellen HarmseEllen HARMSE née RUSCH, was born on 13 June 1950 in Windhoek, in what was then South West Africa. According to German tradition, a pink flag was hoisted at the hospital as a welcome and a notice was placed in the local newspaper! My parents are Franz * 1908 Windhoek, German South West Africa x Else KAPPEL * 1911 Berlin, Germany. Grandfather Ernst Julius, the progenitor, was one of the first 41 Schutztruppler (German protection forces) to bring peace between the Herero and Nama and set foot on Namibian shores in January 1890. From 1970 Ellen lived in Johannesburg and Kempton Park where she worked in the construction industry and as a lecturer in adult education for the Department of Education until 1995.
In 1973 she married Neels Harmse * 1939 Schweizer Reineke, and they have two daughters, Benita and Anja, and one grandson Tristan. She realised that not much research had been done on the HARMSE family, and is doing so now. She posted the draft composition in the Heritage Foundation's library and at the Library of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in Wellington, which contains the GISA collection, for comment and to be supplemented and updated annually with the latest information.
Ellen organises the archives tour to the various archives for the GSSA every year. From a small beginning when they initially only went to the Western Cape Provincial Archive (formerly KAB), it has grown; so much so that tours to the Free State Provincial Archives and also to the National Archives in Pretoria are now being arranged.

Secretary - Glynis Steer 2023

Glynis SteerI was born and bred in Johannesburg and still live there with pride. My interest in genealogy began as early as the 1990s when my mother-in-law abandoned her research after discovering that her grandmother had been jailed for murder and infanticide and had died in prison. What an incentive to start researching family secrets!
I previously served on the Southern Transvaal's (now Johannesburg) branch committee as librarian and newsletter editor, and also offered their training courses on researching one's family history.
I was trained as a librarian and eventually switched to IT systems support.
My husband Rob and I have a Zulu foster daughter and a Mexican/Zulu granddaughter.
When I'm not in Johannesburg, I enjoy spending time in the small hamlet of Rosendal in the Eastern Free State.


Additional Member - Petro Coreejes-Brink 2023

Petro Coreejes-Brink 2023 Petro Coreejes-Brink (born Coreejes) was born on 2 June 1973 in Bellville, Cape Town. She is the eldest of two daughters of Magrietha Louisa (Marina) van Wyk (of Brackenfell) and Gerhardus Johannes (Basie) Coreejes (of Carnarvon).
She matriculated at Brackenfell High School in 1991 and began a B.Bibl degree at Stellenbosch University. Shortly after completing her library qualification, she started as a librarian at the Cape Technicon in Cape Town.
Petro enjoys doing research and also holds a BA Hon and a master's degree in Cultural History from the University of Stellenbosch. The focus of her last qualification was on genealogical registers and naming patterns in the Coreejes family over a period of 200 years. Petro has been doing genealogical research on the Coreejes family in South Africa since 1992.
Only after completing her studies, did she become involved with the GSSA. She was one of the former presidents of the GSSA and was very active for many years in the recording on the headstone project.
Petro has been working at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) for the past 25 years and is involved in special collections that include the GISA collections donated to the Library in 2018.
She is married to Sybrand Abraham Brink (* 08/04/1972) and has two children (Kiran * 2007 and Milina * 2008).

Appointed Member - GSSA National Familia Editor - Gina Shepherd 2023

Gina Shepherd 2023Gina Shepherd (neé Selmic) was born on 3 September 1975 in Johannesburg (Johannesburg General Hospital, otherwise known as Joburg Gen) to Radosav Selmic (1951-2021, an ethnic Serb from the former Yugoslavia) and Heleen Philippé van Rooyen (1954- ) (originally of Vryheid in Natal). Gina spent her formative years in Durban, and then later when her father was employed on the mines moved to Evander in what was then the Transvaal (today Mpumalanga) and completed her schooling in Secunda.

Gina read for a degree in History and Anthropology (a double major) at Unisa, but this is not yet completed. She has always had an intense interest in subjects such as history, anthropology, archaeology, and in particular genealogy. She has also studied horticulture.

Her great-grandfather, Ignatius Michael van Rooyen (1892-1985) of Vryheid (married to Alida Elizabeth Johanna Louw (1892-1991) of Bethal) was an avid genealogist and a history teacher by profession. From very young Gina was told stories about her maternal family, and it sparked an interest and curiosity early in life that never wavered. Her maternal grandmother, Philippa van Rooyen (born Philippina Roselina Jonker (1925-2018) who grew up in Paulpietersburg) also loved history.  She had an exceptional memory and was a keen extrovert, chatting to everyone, and making many connections and learning much family information. They spent a great deal of time together, so Gina’s knowledge of her extended family grew extensively over the years. One of her greatest treasures is a sewing tin filled with old family photos inherited from her great-grandmother Anna Jacomina Barbara Jonker, born Raubenheimer.

Gina initially worked in the IT field as a business and systems analyst,but this career was cut short by severe illness in her 30s. Not one to dwell in misery she used this opportunity to spend much more time on genealogical research. For the last nearly quarter of a century she has worked intensively on her genealogy, with a particular focus on the van Rooyens, descended from the first progenitor, Cornelis. This is an enormous family, and the work has showed no sign of slowing down over the years. The work began with her Natal van Rooyens, which were initially researched by her great-grandfather, and then the research grew a will of its own, as these things tend to do. Gina worked as a professional genealogist for ten years which hugely  increased her broader experience.

Gina is married to Matthew Ingram Shepherd (born Durban 5 October 1970) and they have a daughter Isabella (married to Dwayne Delport) and a grandson, Benjamin,  who is the light of their lives.

Other hobbies include growing (primarily) South African succulents (with a particular interest in stapeliads) as well as knitting and crochet. She also  has a keen interest in geology, botany, biology, mathematics, as well as science and reads extensively in these subjects along with her reading in history, anthropology and related subjects. She has held the editorship of Familia since beginning 2023

Appointed Member - GSSA National Webmaster - Germaine Smith 2023

Germaine SmithGermaine Lisel Rosslyn Smith was born in what is known as the City of Roses on a beautiful Saturday winter afternoon during a very important rugby match - of all things! My parents are Arthur Leslie Rosslyn Smith and Carol Evelyn van den Berg.
I lived in Bloem and was a pupil of one of the best girls' schools, namely Eunice Primary. Later we moved to Three Rivers in Vereeniging where I completed my primary school years at Milton Primary and then matriculated at Riverside High.
My love of art saw me studying fine arts at the Vanderbijlpark Technikon, but today I draw more on my computer than on canvas.
I started researching my British paternal heritage (Smith and Farmiloe). They were of British descent and two trips to the UK led me to finding my grandfather's family and get many of the documents I was looking for at the time.
My maternal line takes me as far back as the Voortrekkers and the British Settlers. It's going to be exciting to research as it would cover my grandparents. The surnames of Holder, Dicks, Thompson, Durand and De Bruin were my grandmother's legacy. They all come from the Dordrecht and Maclear regions in the Eastern Cape. I still have to receive the proof photo that my great-aunt was born on an ox-wagon during the extremely difficult trek to Natal.
I am the chairman of the Vaal Triangle GSSA branch and find it accords with my disposition to encourage our members and help them find their family members that some have been looking for for decades.