Brother Josh May (Michigan State, 2024)

Earlier this month in Atlanta, Alpha Epsilon Pi International held its annual Leven Leadership Institute for current and rising fraternity leaders. Nearly 100 undergraduate Brothers were hand-picked and invited to the three-day conference with the opportunity to meet and interact with AEPi alumni who are leaders in their fields and in their Jewish communities. The lessons learned will help these Brothers lead their chapters and their campus communities.

For Brother Josh May (Michigan State, 2024), the opportunity to put those lessons to work came as he was returning to Michigan.

As a hospitality business major at Michigan State, Brother May had an opportunity in Atlanta to hear from and meet with two leaders in his industry, Brothers Mike Leven (former president and COO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation) and Bob Diener (co-founder of and “I didn’t know what to expect from Leven. I thought it would be a great networking opportunity for me with alumni and with other undergraduates. There weren’t a lot of guys there in my boat – as a senior going into my last semester – so I was able to help other undergrads with my chapter experiences.”

“One of the things I liked most about my experience at Leven was hearing from some alumni about how they have learned to balance a successful life in business while staying involved in the Jewish community. I’ve been trying to find my plan for staying involved in Pro-Israel and Jewish organizations while staying on my chosen career path in hospitality…it was great to hear from AEPi’s best and brightest on these and other subjects.”

One of the annual highlights and capstones of the Leven Leadership Academy is a group case study competition. This year, Brother May’s group (mentored by Past Supreme Master Marc Katz) won the competition. “That was really cool! We were also told that an anonymous donor would make a $1,000 donation to the non-profit of our choice. We were torn between Friends of the IDF and the Israel Cancer Research Foundation. Rob Derdiger (AEPi’s CEO) came up and told us that the donor had decided to donate $1,000 to each of those two organizations.”

It was on the plane ride back to Michigan from Atlanta that Brother May realized that he was going to have to utilize some of the things he had been practicing at Leven. “I was on the plane heading home and my What’s App was blowing up. The Lansing City Council was going to consider a Gaza ceasefire resolution and ‘the other side’ was really prepared with people coming to the City Council hearing and already having speakers lined up.”

Brother May got off the plane and put together a concise 3.5-minute speech discussing the importance of not getting involved or interfering with Israel’s right to defend herself. Not a stranger to such advocacy work – Brother May serves on the Board of Directors of Spartans for Israel, is very involved with JNF and was a part of the Geller International Fellowship for the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) – he also appreciated the confidence and refresher course he had received over the weekend at Leven. He ended up being one of three speakers against the resolution in a room packed with a pro-Palestinian/anti-Israel crowd. In the end, the Lansing City Council rejected the resolution.

“At the end of the day, we know that we are on the right side of history on this. We shouldn’t have to do that much convincing…the other side should. But, having us there to make those points was really important.”

“I think Leven helped me focus on finding my niche and understand how to take my skill set to benefit our community. It’s like therapy or preventative maintenance. Being there definitely put me in the right mindset to make that presentation.”

“I’m really proud of the progress my chapter has made during my time at Michigan State. I can’t wait to get involved in AEPi as a volunteer – become a Regional Governor and someday serve on the Supreme Board of Governors – so that I can help others have the same experience.”