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Elissa (Scalise) Powell ’76

Bachelor of Science, Mathematics

Elissa (Scalise) Powell ’76

Elissa (Scalise) Powell is a Certified Genealogist and is fortunate to make her living by running her own business, Powell Genealogical Services, based in Pittsburgh, PA. Powell graduated from Gannon in 1976 and has parlayed something that started as a hobby into a full-time career. After ten years in the computer field, Powell retired to be with her children at home. During that time, genealogy became a passion. Now, she uses logic and critical analysis skills honed during her years at Gannon to discover more about her own, and her clients’, ancestors.

Powell is a board-certified genealogist, Certified Genealogical Lecturer, member of both the Association of Professional Genealogists and the National Genealogical Society (from which she received the President’s Citation of Recognition). She also received the 2017 Association of Professional Genealogists Professional Achievement Award. Additionally, Powell has appeared on the PBS-TV show Ancestors2 cemetery episode, and two episodes of the Travel Channel’s Dead Files (2015 and 2019).

Powell is also co-director of the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh’s summer institute at La Roche University. Courses are offered on a variety of topics including the foundations of research, DNA evidence, German, Irish, Pennsylvania research, etc. Details are available at

Considering Powell’s natural instinct and love of genealogy, it is no surprise that she worked at the library while she was a student at Gannon. She even helped move the library from Old Main (what is now the Yehl Alumni Ballroom) to its current location.

Powell resides in Pittsburgh, is married, and has two grown children. She is excited to continue in the field of genealogy. Her advice to future and current students is to pursue your passions, noting that doing so will “carry you through the lean times.”

(published May 2020)