Lester W. Young, Jr. has made creating opportunities “where every student can be successful” the guiding principle of his more than 50 years of public service. Dr. Young currently serves as Chancellor, Board of Regents, University of the State of New York. His unanimous election on January 11, 2021, made him the first African American Chancellor in the 237-year history of the Board of Regents.
He began his career with the New York City (NYC) Department of Education, holding positions as a Teacher, Guidance Counselor, Supervisor of Special Education and Principal. During his tenure as Principal, PS 183 Brooklyn (Ocean-Hill Brownsville) was recognized as a School of Excellence by the United States Department of Education (USDOE) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).
Dr. Young also served as Assistant and Associate Commissioner with the NYSED (1988- 1993) and led the department’s efforts in New York City (NYC). Dr. Young’s portfolio included state-wide leadership responsibility for the Offices of School Improvement, Community Schools, Bilingual Education, and Migrant Services and Education.
In 1993, returning to his Brooklyn roots, Dr. Young was appointed to the position of Community Superintendent, C.S.D. 13. As Superintendent, Dr. Young is credited for establishing two successful and highly sought-after schools (Benjamin Banneker Academy HS and Bedford Academy HS) as well as replicating the nationally recognized Algebra Project and Comer School Development Program. Chancellor Harold Levy appointed Dr. Young as Senior Superintendent (coordinating services in four Central Brooklyn Community School Districts). He also established and led the first NYC Office of Youth Development and School Community Services. In 2004, after 35 years of NYC public school service, Lester W. Young, Jr. retired from the NYCDOE. During 2004 – 2008, Dr. Young held the position of Visiting Professor at Long Island University, Graduate School of Education, Brooklyn Campus.
In March 2008, the New York State Legislature elected Lester W. Young, Jr. as Regent At Large, The University of the State of New York. During his four terms as Regent At Large, Dr. Young has served as Co-Chair of the P-12 Committee and Chair of the Higher Education Committee. He also Co-Chaired the Workgroup on Early Learning and Early Childhood Education and chaired the Workgroup to Improve Outcomes for Boys and Young Men of Color. His leadership in this area led to the establishment of the NYS My Brother’s Keeper initiative. Also, due to actions by the NYS Legislature, New York remains the only state in the nation to have the My Brother’s Keeper enacted into state law.
Continuing his commitment to public service, Dr. Young is a Governor appointee to the New York Commission on African American History and he is a member of the New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. Additionally, Dr. Young is a Trustee for the Adelaide L. Sanford Institute (ASI); and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Board. During his career, Dr. Young has also been a Trustee on several not-for-profit boards serving the Brooklyn community (the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp., and the Brooklyn Community Foundation).
Dr. Young volunteers as a mentor to superintendents, principals and aspiring leaders throughout New York City. He has been recognized by many local, national education, and civic education organizations for his professional contributions.
Dr. Young is profiled in Men of Courage II, documenting the lives and achievements of 27 African American Men. He is also a contributing writer to Child by Child: The Comer Process for Change in Education, 1999. Dr. Young is married to Dr. Renee Young and they are the proud parents of one son. Dr. Young received his Doctoral Degree in Education (Ed.D.) from Fordham University, specializing in Urban Education and the Master of Science Degree (MS) from Brooklyn College, CUNY.
Priority New York State Initiatives