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Two honored at Guild for the Arts gala

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The Rockville Centre Guild for the Arts honored Dr. William H. Johnson, superintendent of the Rockville Centre School District, and Richard J. Murphy, president and CEO of Mount Sinai South Nassau, at its seventh annual Guiding Lights gala last Saturday at the Atlantic Beach Club, with about 125 people in attendance.

“It was the best turnout we’ve ever had for a gala,” said Wayne Lipton, co-chair of the event. “We had two really special honorees this year who have had a huge impact on the lives of the residents of the Rockville Centre community and the surrounding communities as well. The nicest part of the gala is that they shared their families with us.”

The Guild for the Arts, the parent organization of the South Shore Symphony and the Long Island Lyric Opera, hosts the gala each year to raise funds for its ongoing operations, as well as the funding of the Mayors Eugene J. and Francis X. Murray Scholarships, awarded annually to select South Side High School students who have demonstrated excellence in the creative and performing arts.

Lipton and co-chair Joan Hope MacNaughton said they were proud to honor Johnson and Murphy, longstanding supporters of the arts in the community.

“As Rockville Centre School District superintendent, no one understands the value of the arts in our education system more than Dr. Johnson, who has supported the guild and the South Shore Symphony for decades,” Lipton said. “Rich Murphy and Mount Sinai South Nassau have stepped up repeatedly to support the village, the guild and our efforts in the community.”

The decision to honor Johnson was made before he announced his retirement in late August, and Lipton said that it made it even more appropriate to recognize him this year.

“During his three decades as superintendent, the Rockville Centre school district has continued to grow in excellence and prestige,” Lipton said.

Johnson was named New York State’s Superintendent of the Year in 2005. He is a past president of the Nassau County and New York State Council of School Superintendents, and currently co-chairs the state Council of School Superintendents’ Curriculum Committee. He has served on the Salerno Commission on Financial Reform and was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to serve on the Governor’s Education Reform Commission, known as the Zarb Commission.

Murphy has been president and CEO of Mount Sinai South Nassau since August 2012. Under his leadership, the hospital finalized its partnership with the Mount Sinai Health System, making South Nassau Coummunities Hospital the Long Island flagship hospital of Mount Sinai. Murphy also oversees $400 million in capital projects on the hospital’s Oceanside and Long Beach campuses to help ensure that the entire South Shore of Nassau County has access to the most comprehensive and cutting-edge medical services in the area.

In January, Murphy was named chairman of the Healthcare Association of New York State board of trustees. Prior to coming to South Nassau, he served as president and chief executive officer of Richmond University Medical Center on Staten Island. His career also includes a leadership role in Long Island’s Catholic Health System, as executive vice president of CHS’s Suffolk Region hospitals, which included his serving as chief executive officer of Good Sa-maritan, St. Charles and St. Catherine of Siena hospitals.

Lipton said that the guild depends on a small amount of money to operate, and though the costs are low, they are still real. Several years ago the organization changed its approach from memberships to holding the gala, and has found it to be a “huge success,” Lipton said. The gala raised enough to fund the organization while providing an intimate night out for attendees.

Performers included the South Shore Symphony, the Long Island Lyric Opera and the South Side High School select chorale, which sang a tribute to Johnson. Speakers included Brian Zuar, the school district’s director of the arts; Tony Cancellieri, vice chairman of Mount Sinai South Nassau’s board of trustees; and Darren Raymar, principal of Covert Elementary School.

“I think that everyone who attended walked away with a warm and positive feeling,” Lipton said, “which is something event organizers all strive for, but is hard to accomplish.”