'The Makers' TV to cover North Country women, premiers Feb. 26 on WPBS-tv
Monday, February 25, 2013 - 11:49 am

From left are local “makers” Nafeesa Johnson, SUNY Canton Student Government president; Donna Seymour, Potsdam, community activist; Barbara Gordon, former president of SLC Literacy of Northern New York coordinator; and Ashley Keys, Renewal House/Crisis Intervention volunteer, Canton.

The St. Lawrence County American Association of University Women branch and WPBS-TV will host a new shown, “The Makers,” Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m.

Interspersed with three hours of national “maker” profiles will be short interviews with North Country women “makers” filmed in Canton. The local profiles will also be aired during Women’s History Month programming in March.

“The Makers” series shares the stories of American women whose contributions continue to shape American culture.

The local “makers” are Potsdam’s Barbara Gordon, the former president of SLC Literacy of Northern New York coordinator; Donna Seymour, a long-time community activist; Nafeesa Johnson, the SUNY Canton Student Government president and Ashley Keys, of Renewal House/Crisis Intervention.

Arriving in Potsdam 34 years ago, Gordon substitute taught in area schools until she began part-time teaching a basic literacy skills program in a grant-funded adult education program. She eventually began full-time work in a program at BOCES with a GED night course and the External Diploma Program, a NYS rural pilot site program. She retired in 2000, but soon returned to work as the program director for Literacy of Northern NY, a position she only recently left.

A life-long resident of the North Country, Donna Seymour has spent her adult life as a volunteer with local and state-wide organizations. She currently serves in her "dream job" as the public policy director for AAUW. She is serving with the coalition to support the NYS Women's Equality Agenda, a 10-point set of legislative initiatives to improve the economic and legal status of women here in the state.

Nafeesa Johnson was born in Brooklyn. She is a senior at SUNY Canton, majoring in law enforcement leadership with a minor in homeland security. During her years at SUNY Canton, she has served as a resident assistant, College Activities Board president and president of the Student Government Association (SGA).

Johnson is completing her second year on the executive committee for the Student Assembly of the State University of New York, the governing body for over 400,000 students within the SUNY system.

Gifted with high energy and a powerful drive to help others, Ashley Keyes started her volunteer work at age 16 at a small veterinary office until she graduated from Beaver River Central School. After high school, she settled in Richland, where she volunteered at a small animal shelter/rescue organization.

Returning to Lewis County in 2009, she began training and volunteering with Lewis County Opportunities for the Domestic Violence Rape Crisis Department, where she takes hotline calls, totaling more than 1900 hours to date.

She began volunteering with Canton’s Renewal House in June 2012, while continuing to volunteer with Lewis County Opportunities. At Renewal House, Keyes is an on-call advocate for domestic violence and rape crisis. She is a dedicated volunteer, offering her evenings and weekends to be on call, averaging about 100 hours per month.

Another SUNY Canton student, Keyes is currently working on her business administration degree while working full time with Community Bank NA and maintaining her full volunteering schedule with both Renewal House and Lewis County Opportunities.

Visit makers.com to look for stories from “makers” including Judy Blume, Carol Burnett, Katie Couric, Ellen DeGeneres, Geraldine Ferraro, Billie Jean King, Maya Lin, Condoleezza Rice, Faith Ringgold and Gloria Steinem.