Clavin, Khzouz, Smith, Richner honored at gala

Money raised will help Nassau Community College feed the hungry


It was a night to remember, and a night to recognize the people and businesses that help make Nassau Community College what it is.

It was the annual gala of the Nassau Community College Foundation, taking place not far from the campus at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City.

Among those honored were Hempstead town supervisor Don Clavin, NICE Bus chief executive Jack Khzouz, NCC administrator Charmian Smith, and Richner Communications, the parent company of Herald Community Newspapers.

Adorned in their best suits, ties and dresses, guests were immediately offered champagne and given a chance to pose for photos in front of a red carpet display. From there, it was a tour of the model planes and historic aviation displays before being invited to sit at their respective tables in the main dining room.

Leading the night off was Donna Drake of her self-titled inspirational television show introducing guests like Joy Dedonato, an NCC alum, and executive director of the NCC Foundation.

“I’ll never forget the people I met and the values I learned at Nassau Community College,” Dedonato said. “This place taught me to hit the wall, where you cannot go further, and then go further anyway.”

NCC president Maria Conzatti then introduced the honorees, selected for their support. Like Clavin and Richner Communications, both of which publicize important notices to students, while also providing advertising and marketing.

Clavin, in fact, is a staunch supporter of the college, Conzatti said, thanking him for what he has done as an elected official. Like helping to organize The Nest at NCC — a non-profit organization that aims to alleviate hunger for students, employees and their families.

“Some people say it takes a village to raise a child,” Conzatti said. “And were proud that this village raised so many students who come back to support our college.”

Baldwin’s Charmian Smith is NCC’s interim vice president of academic student services, telling the crowd she was honored to know her colleagues recognized her in such a way.

“This gala helps to bring us all together after the years of the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said. “It’s a great time to celebrate each other, our accomplishments, the community, and our families.”

Clavin is an NCC alum, and has counted some of the professors there as actual members of his family.

“So many of my friends started their lives at this institution,” the town supervisor said. “To be recognized is just humbling.”

Stuart Richner talked about the importance of providing well-rounded learning experiences.

“Educating young adults takes a team of professionals and advisers, which we understand,” the Herald Community Newspapers publisher said. “Here at Richner, we work as a team to provide hyperlocal news to our communities.”

Khzouz described his being honored by the foundation “amazing.” NICE Bus employs more than 1,000 people, transporting more than 70,000 each day in 450 vehicles. That’s more than a million miles a month.

“We have a mission, which we live every day,” Khzouz said. “That mission is to make sure our bus services are an asset to Nassau County institutions and its citizens.”

And now NICE is celebrating 10 years in Nassau County.

“We use large complex vehicles to drive through Nassau County and Queens at peak rush hour with impatient New Yorkers. What could go wrong?” Khzouz joked. “Yet, we prevail anyway.”

Proceeds from the gala will help The Nest at NCC food pantry. To make a donation, too, visit