• Speaker Series: What is an American: Perspectives


    Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to consider what being an American means and how the definition evolves over time. To consider the blessings of citizenship as well as the responsibilities, we are joined by people with differing perspectives.

    Walter Gordon holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from SUNY at Buffalo and continues to work at local aerospace firms; he served 30 years in the Air Force Reserve, most of it as a C-130 pilot with the 914th Airlift Wing in Niagara Falls. He was deployed in 1990-91 for Operations Desert Shield and Storm, and 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom. He retired from the Air Force Reserve in 2014 as the commander of the 914th with the rank of colonel. He currently works at Moog in East Aurora and serves as the president of the Niagara Aerospace Museum and chair of the Niagara Frontier Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

    Gamileh Jamil is a Muslim American of Yemini descent. She has had to over come many challenges personally and professionally. Nonetheless, she has become an experienced Executive Director in nonprofit organization management, and is skilled in patient advocacy, nursing education, and strategic planning. She holds a Masters in Health Administration focused in Healthcare Administration from Roberts Wesleyan College.

    Mr. Greg Shershnevsky was born in Vilna, Lithuania shortly before the German occupation in 1941. He was “adopted” by a Christian Polish women who also saved a number of other children. His father was active in the underground resistance movement and found Grigory after the war. His mother was presumed murdered by Germans. The Christian Polish woman who hide him has since been award as a Righteous Among the Nations for hiding Jewish children from the Nazis.

    May Shogan is a native of Jordan and a 29-year veteran of the International Institute of Buffalo. She began as a started as an Arabic interpreter and translator, and is now the Director of Education & International Visitors leading her department in increasing global awareness and engagement of all Western New York residents.