BLI Graduation Year: 2016
Keith A. Gorgos
Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP
Tell us briefly about yourself and please update your classmates on your personal/professional experiences since graduating from BLI:
I continue to practice as an attorney in Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP’s Business & Banking and Litigation Departments, where I represent and advise business entities and individual clients on a wide range of legal issues.
With respect to personal experiences, I was fortunate enough to have recently been able to explore Jasper and Banff National Parks in Canada, where I was able to see some unbelievably blue lakes and wildlife, hike and bike the mountains, and even swim (for a few seconds) in ice-cold lakes with glacial runoff.
Two of my favorite movies are The Last of the Mohicans and Enemy of the State.
One of my favorite books is Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think by Harvard professor and animal-cognition researcher, Marc D. Hauser. With an undergraduate major in Brain & Cognitive Sciences, I have always had a fascination with the brain and its ability, as a collection of cells that once grew from almost “nothing”, to not only become self-aware of its own existence, but to have the ability to become self-reflective, learning to research and unlock its very own secrets with respect to how it performs, acts, and perceives on a daily basis. This book takes things a step further and objectively examines the universal mental toolkits that all animals have and that allow for the common ability to acquire knowledge about objects, number, and space, as well as the specialized aspects of their mental toolkits that different species have to tackle the unique problems they face. I’m not sure what could be more fascinating than reading about how salmon, for instance, can use magnetically structured crystals in their brain and the lateral line of their body to navigate by detecting changes in the Earth’s magnetic field, or how honeybees communicate the direction and location of food through communicative dancing.
Current and Past Notable Civic Activities:
I am currently following up on a commitment to raise more than $1,500 in fundraising and donations for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation by early November, with these funds going to help support vital cystic fibrosis research, medical and education programs. I made this commitment in conjunction with recently being named by the CFF as one of six “Southern Tier’s Finest” young professionals for 2017, as nominated by community professionals and leaders – in part, I believe, due to some of the great charitable endeavors I was able to accomplish alongside and with the help of my 2016 BLI classmates. I am also a member of the United Way’s Emerging Leaders Society of Greater Broome, the Southern Tier Young Professionals, and the Broome County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers. Along with some others at my firm, I am also involved with promoting the annual Coughlin & Gerhart, LLP Race for Justice 5K Run to benefit the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, as well as the free “Broome Bands Together” summer concert series put on by our firm.
I enjoy playing almost any sport, but mostly soccer, softball and basketball, along with some golf, hockey, and volleyball on the side. I also enjoy getting outdoors and going hiking to cool places.
How did you BLI experience change your perception of the community?
In touring local businesses, hearing from community leaders, and learning more about what the broad spectrum of companies and organizations in our community have to offer, I saw that there is a lot more under the surface than what one might expect at first glance, with a number of unique industries represented. I also began to perceive the community with more of a “team” mindset where we can and should learn to better play off each other’s strength, supporting local entities whenever possible. During my BLI experience, we heard the announcement that the Southern Tier was a recipient of %500 million in economic development aid through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. And, in just the past year or two, we have heard plenty of great news as well. For example, we have had local professional sports teams with outside investors recommitting and reinvesting in our area, new organizations investing for the first time, and national companies building new facilities that will bring plenty of new jobs to the area. So, there is a great reason to be excited about the confident resurgence of our area and I look forward to how we all can add to that excitement in the coming months and years through our collaborative leadership and networking.
How did your BLI experience motivate you to become more involved in the community?
My BLI experience helped me to open my eyes further to the interdependence of both individuals and entities in our community. I became more motivated to be involved in the community through the realization that improving the quality of life for everyone in our area, be it from helping out those less fortunate, or taking on other community endeavors, not only helps those individuals directly on the receiving end, but will also ultimately work to benefit many others in the community “circle” as well, attracting new businesses and growth. Business One will have an easier time thriving if its main customer Business Two remains in the area, and Business Two will have increased business if its individual customers are not struggling just to get by on a daily basis.
What was your most memorable BLI activity/moment?
My most memorable moment was digging a number of connected, 4-foot deep trenches to install a subsurface perimeter fence for the CHOW Farm’s garden during an unexpected April snowstorm and 20-degree winds with a bunch of committed, hard-working BLI peers who were not afraid to sweat despite their normal “office” jobs. The snowstorm came out of nowhere on the radar the day before after a few warm weeks, and it was energizing to hear and see a bunch of motivated classmates agree to show up the next day anyway and dig through the storm, taking the bull by the horns with a “Let’s get it done!” attitude.
What was the most valuable benefit to you from you BLI experience?
After hearing a couple different presenters touch on the concept, I began to realize, and have a greater appreciation for, the importance and the beneficial impact of not only having, but also regularly vocalizing, an enthusiastic outlook for our region’s continued economic growth and ongoing resurgence, ultimately encouraging and advocating our peers and area residents to mirror the same. While it is common for people of any “hometown” to make self-deprecating jokes or statements to some extent, after a while, if such statements are permitted to constantly drive the narrative, pessimistic thoughts and preconceived notions can begin to take shape and directly impact the real-world actions of local and outside decision-makers.
So the most valuable benefit I obtained from my BLI experience was an epiphany of sorts that even just one person in a given business or community can alone be a powerful force in acting as a backstop to halt a downward narrative and play a central role in redirecting that narrative, working to change the mindset of man to begin focusing on all the positive developments our area is experiencing. An optimistic perception and vocalized enthusiasm is key to attracting and retaining talent, and can play a crucial role and provide the underlying foundation to drive significant reinvestment and belief in the economic vitality of our area, from both local and outside entities and individuals.
What “nugget of wisdom” do you have for your fellow BLI alum?
Talk to toddlers or young children whenever you have a chance; they help to keep life in perspective and usually have good advice. And, if they give you unquestionable bad advice – well, at least they give you a laugh with it.