LHRIC technology leader named SWBOCES Ambassador

Ambassador Award: Azhar Ahmad lauded for going beyond the call for district kids

The Southern Westchester BOCES administration and Board of Education has honored Network Technology Consultant Azhar Ahmad with its SWBOCES Ambassador Award.    

Ahmad has served as Director of IT at East Ramapo since 2011. He was presented with the award by Deputy Superintendent/COO Jacqueline O’Donnell at the board’s Oct. 11 meeting.

The Ambassador Award honors employees who have been judged to go above and beyond their job description to provide an outstanding or exceptional contribution to the BOCES community. This might mean an achievement, a set of skills, a creative idea or an innovation that has an exceptional impact on SWBOCES. This contribution might result in improved service to students, faculty or staff and community  outreach.

It is open to all employees, and any employee can nominate any other. Those submitting nominations must provide evidence of impact and focus primarily on the nominees’ contributions.

Ahmad was nominated by several of his colleagues, each praising his work ethic, vision and concrete accomplishments in the area of instructional technology and network support, benefiting the students of East Ramapo.

 Dr. Joel Klein, retired district superintendent and Ahmad's former supervisor and mentor, worked with Ahmad since Klein’s arrival there in 2010. He cited Ahmad’s skills, high energy and vision for the district as well as an ability to communicate and a laudable work ethic. Specifically, Ahmad demonstrated leadership skills in pursuit of multiple projects, according to Klein.

“Funding through his leadership increased dramatically from the Microsoft Grant, the New York State Technology Bond, Community Grant, Homeless and Poverty Grants through improved accurate student identification, greater Federal Funds as a result of a more accurate and cleaner database, as well as numerous other ways,” he wrote in his nomination

"We don’t get opportunities like that all the time here," Ahmad said of the grant funding he secured. "I had to prove it could be done. It's a matter of, where there’s a will there’s a way."

Ahmad came to East Ramapo from the financial industry but was looking for a more stable position. He started as an intern and rose to become director of MIS. He has been working with East Ramapo overall since 1998 and was hired as Junior Network Specialist at the LHRIC in 2000. 

"It’s a very special position I'm in," he said. "It's an honor. I’m trying to serve the RIC. I'm trying to build bridges. My team is phenomenal. They’re the pillars of the bridges I’m trying to build."

"If we can serve the kids I will have served my purpose," he added. "You need purpose in life."

Christine Alfonso, Principal at Pomona Middle School said Ahmad embodies the spirit of SWBOCES collaboration. He was integral to the Extended Learning Time Grant, the installation of Wi-Fi and the implementation of technology tools from 3D printers to Smartboards and GoPro cameras, in Alfonso’s view.

“Mr. Ahmad possesses the ultimate ‘can do’ attitude while taking on all tasks with a positive energy and a smile,” she wrote.

Maria Vergez, Chestnut Ridge Middle School’s principal, echoed the sentiment, saying that Ahmad is always a step ahead of the crowd. Rather than waiting for things to happen, he makes things happen.

Lime KIln Elementary School Principal Lori Grant said Ahmad infuses technology into every classroom and enhances student engagement in the process.

His “visionary leadership has supported the district in optimizing our technology program under incredible budgetary constraints,” she said.

Ahmad was joined at the ceremony by James Kiernan, a former LHRIC managers and supervisor of Ahmad's, along with Kiernan's daughter and grandson; his brother Nadeem Akhtar and staff member Azeem Uddim.

Ahmad is married to wife Saima Mirza. They have a daughter, Ayaan Ahmed, who is 13; and a son, Hassan Ahmed, who is 8.

Among those he wished to thank are his wife; Dr. Klein; Mr. Kiernan; mentor and East Ramapo Superintendent Dr. Deborah Wortham; colleagues Bhavin Gandhi and Nadeem Akhtar; LHRIC Executive Director Kathy Conley and her predecessor, Dr. Dennis Lauro; mentor Kashuika Patel; as well as Anthony Ferrante and Robert Predgo, also of the LHRIC.

Ahmad said he is not one to ever give up in the face of a challenge. Receiving an honor like this from his peers, therefore, is great motivation, though he admits he is humbled by it.

“At the end of the day I feel honored. It’s a privilege.”