Lester W. Young Jr.


Alumnus Appointed First African American Chancellor of New York State Board of Regents

February 5, 2021

Pictured: Lester W. Young Jr. (B.S. ’70) was elected chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents. Photo courtesy of the New York State Department of Education.

Lester W. Young Jr. (B.S. ’70) was unanimously elected as chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents. He is the first African American to serve in this position. In his new role, he will lead and serve as the presiding officer of the Board of Regents, which is responsible for the general supervision of all educational activities within the State, overseeing the University and the New York State Education Department. The Board comprises 17 members elected by the State Legislature for five-year terms.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Board, Interim Commissioner [Betty] Rosa, the entire Education Department team, all New York state educators and, in particular, all of our families as we work to build more equitable and empowering futures for all New York’s students,” said Young.

In March 2008, he was appointed by the New York State Legislature as Regent At Large, The University of the State of New York, and in April 2020 was appointed by the New York State Legislature to a fourth term as Regent At Large.

Young, who volunteers as a mentor to superintendents, principals, and aspiring leaders throughout New York City, has been in public service for more than 50 years. He has been a Regent member since 2008 and was assistant and associate commissioner with the New York State Education Department (NYSED) from 1988 to 1993.

He began his career with the New York City Department of Education and has held various positions, including teacher, guidance counselor, supervisor of special education, and principal. In 1987, under his tenure as principal, P.S. 183 in Brooklyn was recognized as a School of Excellence by the United States Department of Education (USDOE) and the NYSED.

Some of his other accomplishments include being appointed to the New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group, establishing two successful and highly sought-after schools (Benjamin Banneker Academy High School and Bedford Academy High School), replicating the nationally recognized Algebra Project and Comer School Development Program (a process designed to improve the educational experience of poor minority youth), and establishing and leading the first New York City Office of Youth Development and School Community Services.

“Time and time again, Regent Young has demonstrated his courage, determination and steadfast obligation to helping our underserved populations rise above their circumstances and thrive in life,” said Rosa. “Through his decades of experience at all levels of education, he has earned the respect of New York’s education community and helped countless individuals. Regent Young brings immense knowledge, wholehearted passion and unmatched expertise to his new role and the Board is fortunate to have him as its new leader.”