Helen Hinchliff earned degrees in political science and communications from the University of California at Berkeley, San Diego State University, and the University of Illinois. She began her career as an assistant professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York from which she was recruited to direct a study of the portrayal of women and minorities in television at the United States Commission on Civil Rights in Washington D.C. She remained with the Commission for eleven years, eventually as director of the Office of Program Planning and Evaluation.
In 1985, she immigrated to Canada, soon settled on Salt Spring Island, and trained to become a certified genealogist. For many years she was a professional genealogical lecturer, giving lectures and workshops throughout the United States as well as in Scotland. She is an award-winning author of dozens of case-study research articles, published in British, Canadian, and American genealogical research journals. Currently, she is researching and writing a book for the Baltimore [Maryland] Architectural Foundation on the life and career of her great-grandfather, Frank E. Davis, one of the founding members of the Baltimore chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Helen is a past president of the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History, an associate editor of the [U.S.] National Genealogical Society Quarterly, and in 2001 was elected a fellow of the America Society of Genealogists. On Salt Spring Island, she has served for many years on the boards of Salt Spring Island United Church, the Canadian Federation of University Women, Greenwoods Eldercare Society, and the Brinkworthy Homeowners Association. She is the author of Aging with Grace: Dispatches from the Front Lines which is based on six years of columns published monthly in the Gulf Islands Driftwood.