Lester Taylor ’97

Mayor, East Orange, NJ

When Lester Taylor transferred to Montclair State University he was eager to get involved with the institution that always appealed to him. After completing his first year at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, he came to Montclair State to pursue a degree in political science with a concentration in pre-law studies. It was his desire to help people that drew him to pursue a legal career and a focus in educational law that ultimately led him to enter public politics. On January 1, 2014, he was sworn into office as the 13th mayor of the City of East Orange, New Jersey. At the age of 39, he became the second youngest mayor in the city’s history.

“I am proud of the transformational change that our city has demonstrated,” says the mayor. “East Orange is my home, and I believe that we are providing more exposure and opportunities for our students, which will better prepare them to excel in college and careers.”

His time spent at Montclair State speaks to the students he sees in East Orange. As a full-time student and campus resident, he played varsity football and worked for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Starting in his junior year, he worked as an Admissions Ambassador as well as an administrative clerk alongside the University’s admissions counselors.

“I learned a lot about the University seeing the admissions process first-hand and giving tours to prospective students and their families. By working with professionals who help to shape the student body, I gained an understanding of how the different departments of an institution work together and I was exposed to various careers that are represented on a college campus.”

During his senior year at Montclair State, he was eager to explore more professional development opportunities. Delores McMorrin, an Educational Opportunity Fund counselor and one of Taylor’s mentors, recommended that he apply for an internship for the Washington Center, a subset of the Minority Leadership Fellowship Program. He was accepted and interned his senior year at a law firm in Washington, D.C.

“I always wanted to help people, so pursuing a legal career seemed like the right path to take,” says Taylor. Now also a partner at Florio Perrucci Steinhardt and Fader, Taylor focused on educational law and represents urban and suburban school districts.

Education is among his administration’s top priorities, and within his first year, Taylor established the East Orange College and Career Readiness Network to help students compete in the local and global 21st century workforce.

“Montclair State taught me to take every life experience as an opportunity to learn," he says. "As mayor, I continue this practice and am excited for the new generation of learners.”