“I’ve always felt that politics and change begins locally,” he said. “I want to address everyday issues affecting residents.”
Art runs deep in his Lebanese-American family. His parents were professional ballroom dancers. His sister, Vicki, is a renowned muralist whose work is displayed at the United States Capitol Building.
His family also has a history of public service. Most notably, Khuzami’s brother Robert now serves as the Deputy U.S. Attorney for the Southern District.
“I grew up with a high respect for civic involvement,” he said. “He’s doing it on the national level. I’m doing it on the local level.”
Khuzami is a member of Community Board 1. He spent 11 years as parks and culture chair, but was recently appointed chair of the Capital and Expense Planning Committee.
He has also been a member of the Queens General Assembly, an advisory group for the borough president on interethnic affairs, since the early 2000s.
But Khuzami’s latest effort is founding the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association, formed in 2014. The group promotes communication between residents and city agencies, local businesses and the cultural sector.
He’s now working on establishing a cultural district on the Astoria waterfront, anchored by Welling Court, Socrates Sculpture Park and Noguchi Museum. He’s also working on establishing a business directory, improving local parks and quality of life.
When Khuzami moved to Old Astoria in 1990, it was considered “the other side of the tracks.” But he saw the potential of the parks, waterfront and old architecture, which he also wants to landmark. Now, the community is changing as more people move in.
“I would like to see the organization grow as the neighborhood grows,” he said.