Ancestry Appoints Executives to Propel Family History and AncestryDNA



Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, announced it has named former Amazon and Facebook executives to its leadership team.

Brian Donnelly, formerly head of Diagnostics and Genomics at Amazon, has been named Senior Vice President and General Manager of AncestryDNA, and Ashish Nayyar, Facebook’s Senior Director of Data Science, has been appointed Chief Data Officer. Heather Friedland, who joined Ancestry in 2019 and most recently served as Senior Vice President, New Products & Growth, has been promoted to Chief Product Officer.

Following the company’s acquisition by Blackstone and GIC in December 2020, Ancestry has augmented its board of directors and management team with leaders recognized for pioneering in the technology industry. Building Ancestry’s strong foundation, the companies focused on innovating for its current subscribers while delivering new experiences for the millions of people worldwide who are interested in learning more about their family regardless of their background or the content available.

“We are thrilled to welcome these three outstanding thought leaders to our executive bench, each of whom bring a wealth of experience from both within Ancestry, and other leading technology companies,” said Deborah Liu, Ancestry President and CEO. “I am confident that together we will continue to drive innovation and growth so that we can empower even more journeys of personal discovery globally.” 


Brian Donnelly has joined Ancestry as Senior Vice President and General Manager of AncestryDNA from Amazon, where he served as the worldwide leader of Diagnostics and Genomics. Prior to Amazon, Donnelly held a variety of global leadership roles at market-leading genomics companies, such as Sequenom, Illumina, and Codex DNA where he was the Chief Commercial Officer. In his role leading the AncestryDNA business, Donnelly will work to advance scientific innovation and develop Ancestry’s long-term vision and global strategy for AncestryDNA to drive growth, improve the customer experience, and maximize its impact on the overall business.


Ashish Nayyar joins as Chief Data Officer and will lead analytics, data science and data engineering at Ancestry. Nayyar brings more than 20 years of experience in the field and joins Ancestry from Facebook where he led the Entertainment and Commerce Data Science teams for the Facebook app. Nayyar will be responsible for defining strategies to govern and manage data across the enterprise to directly support Ancestry’s product innovation, business growth and future value creation. 


Heather Friedland was promoted to Chief Product Officer at Ancestry to accelerate the company’s product innovation. Friedland joined Ancestry in June 2019 and served as Vice President of Product for AncestryHealth and Senior Vice President, New Products & Growth. Friedland brings more than two decades of product management experience, previously serving as Chief Product Officer at Glassdoor where she led the product organization during a period of rapid growth.

Related Articles at FamilyTree.com:

Ancestry to Acquire French Genealogy Company Geneanet

Ancestry Makes Its Terms and Conditions Clearer

AncestryDNA Updated Four Communities

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