Taft alumni have elected Charmaine S. Lester '07 to serve her alma mater as the newest member of Taft's Board of Trustees.
Introduced to Taft through an academic enrichment program called New Jersey SEEDS, Charmaine arrived at Taft as a lower mid. Her time at Taft, she said, laid the foundation for a career dedicated to social impact.
While at Taft, Charmaine volunteered at a public school in Waterbury, served as co-lead for United Cultures at Taft (UCT), and was a corridor monitor for Mac House. After quick stints playing basketball and tennis, Charmaine discovered her passion for yoga, which she has practiced faithfully since graduating in 2007. Charmaine also credits Taft for her love of great literature, and fondly remembers vibrant discussions about her favorite novelist, Toni Morrison, in English classes and with Mr. Mac.
After Taft, Charmaine attended Columbia University, where she majored in History. In her free time, she volunteered as a GED specialist for Columbia Community Impact, a program that offered education and health services to Upper Manhattan residents. During her senior year of college, Charmaine worked as a student advocate at Harlem Children's Zone Promise Academy, a K-12 charter school.
After graduating from Columbia, Charmaine worked as a teacher for an alternative-to-incarceration nonprofit organization based in Brooklyn while enrolled at New York University, where she earned an M.A. in Education and Social Policy. She then transitioned to working for the New York City Department of Education, where she designed and led research and evaluation efforts for city-wide education initiatives that reached 1,800 schools and 1.1 million students.
In 2017, Charmaine enrolled at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University to get her M.B.A. with a specialization in Finance. Upon graduation, she joined McKinsey & Company in their New Jersey office. At the firm, she focuses on supporting universities and colleges through transformational improvements—including maintaining financial viability during COVID-19—and helping non-profit organizations strategize and stand up racial equity initiatives.
In her spare time, Charmaine enjoys reading, cycling indoors, and spending time with her family. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her partner, Aaron.