Attorney Lester E. Taylor III ’97, Partner and Education Law Practice Group Chair at Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor, brings his expertise to serve his alma mater on the University Foundation Board while continuing a lifetime of commitment to community service.
“You might say that I’ve come full circle, where Montclair State is concerned,” says Lester E. Taylor III ’97, recalling his days as a student ambassador for the Office of Admissions. As a new member of the Montclair State Foundation Board, he will be an ambassador to the broader community, helping to lead the University’s efforts to ensure the continued accessibility and excellence of a Montclair State education.
Although Taylor began his college career at Pennsylvania’s West Chester University, he soon transferred to Montclair State to play football. “I thought I was going to be a pro football player,” he says with a laugh.
Fortunately for the community and his future clients, Taylor pivoted to a political science and pre-law track. “I loved the diverse, vibrant campus at Montclair State, but I also learned to work hard,” he recalls. “Looking back, I appreciate that my professors pushed me to be more competitive because it made me develop the necessary maturity to succeed.”
Dr. Delores McMorrin, coordinator of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Legal Studies Program at the time, saw Taylor’s potential and encouraged him to pursue an internship in Washington, D.C. that was designed to develop minority leaders.
“The application was intense,” Taylor recalls. “I learned very quickly what I needed to do to be competitive in my field, including service, academics, and goal setting. As a result, though, I was able to work for a law firm in Washington, D.C. I received a rigorous introduction to government, legislation, and politics. It put me on my career path.”
After graduating from Howard University School of Law and serving as a clerk for the Honorable Zinora M. Mitchell-Rankin, Associate Judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Taylor returned to New Jersey to focus on representing boards of education and state, county and municipal public entities. Today, he is a Partner at the prestigious Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor law firm where he is also the Chairman of the firm’s Education Law Practice Group.
As Taylor’s career grew so did his commitment to community service. He currently holds board roles at Three Doctors Foundation, the United Way of Greater Newark, Sustainable Jersey, and the Jersey Water Works. He has also served as a Trustee for the Northern Region of the New Jersey Association of School Attorneys and as Mayor of the City of East Orange (2014-2017).
“It is an honor and a privilege to add the Montclair State University Foundation to this list,” he says. “And it is a pleasure to join this community of thought leaders who are helping to shape the future of the state.” he says. “I look forward to giving back to the institution that positioned me to achieve success.”
“The pipeline from high school to college to career is nonexistent for too many New Jersey students,” Taylor points out. “Our priority at the Foundation is to raise the resources to provide a top-quality, affordable education for as many students as possible.”
“Further, we live in a different world than when I was a college student,” he continues. “The level of awareness of civic engagement is high, yet we suffer from information overload. It is crucial for institutions like Montclair State to help students filter out the substantive information and use it to better their careers, and lives for that matter.”
Taylor points to the growth of the University’s endowment as an indicator of how much the community – alumni, friends, corporations and foundations – respect the institution. “Under Dr. Cole’s leadership, the value of a Montclair State degree has increased exponentially,” he says.
“Montclair State is somewhat of a hidden gem that is poised to become even more competitive and accessible,” Taylor adds, noting his plans to invite others to join him in supporting the University. “The amount you think you’ll contribute, double it – Montclair State is worth it!”