“I am promoter of the neighborhood business,” said Town of Hempstead Clerk Nasrin Ahmad to a room filled with about two-dozen people at a Chamber of Commerce event. “The personal touch. That hamburger that you will get which a family-owned restaurant is making is not going to be the same as these chain stores.”
In front of an audience that included members of the Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Bill Hendrick and local business owners, Ahmad spoke about the importance of local businesses at Pearsall’s Station in Lynbrook on June 15. She also shared the story of the hardships she faced growing up.
“I think it is sad that these large businesses come and they take that personal mom and pop store [away],”Ahmad said. “Community — the whole thing that makes this country great is that the community works together and the community grows together. We should spend our money in the community. I’m a great promoter of that.”
Ahmad was born in Uganda. She said her father died when she was 4 and soon after she moved to England. Being born of African descent and living in Kent County, England was a struggle for her at first, she recalled. “Growing up in the early ‘60s in England and not being lily white was a challenge,” she said, adding that one of her teachers referred to her as, “my little brown one” and kids picked on her because her skin was a different color.
Ahmad noted that she had trouble fitting in with children in her school at first, but her mother always supported her and told her she was special. After graduating from college, she said she was in search of an arranged marriage, but having no luck in England, her siblings located a Pakistani man named Naeem Ahmad in New York and she emigrated to America. The couple got married and has three children together.
In 1998, Ahmad joined the town clerk’s office. After holding many positions, the town board voted to have Ahmad serve as town clerk after then-clerk Mark Bonilla abruptly left office in 2013. She maintains that position to this day.
“Ladies and gentlemen, that little brown girl is today the town clerk of the largest township in the United States,” Ahmad said to the audience. “Because A), I held onto what [my mother] said: Hard work and never give up, and B) I am in a country which I believe after living on the big continent is the best country in the world. It’s the American dream I’m living and I want to give back to this country what it gave me.”