Dartmouth Hires Chief Human Resources Officer

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Sara Lester has been chief human resources officer for Educational Testing Service.

Sara Lester
Sara Lester will start at Dartmouth on June 1. (Photo courtesy of Sara Lester)

Sara Lester, chief human resources officer at Educational Testing Service, has been named chief human resources officer at Dartmouth. She will begin work on June 1.

“Sara is a visionary, strategic thinker who is committed to supporting, nurturing, and developing a creative and dedicated workforce,” says Executive Vice President Rick Mills. “She knows that people are Dartmouth’s most important asset, and we are delighted that Sara will bring her strategic approach to management and her commitment to cementing Dartmouth’s place as an employer of choice for top talent.”

Since 2018, Lester has managed human resources at Princeton, N.J.-based Educational Testing Service.

The world’s largest private nonprofit educational testing and assessment organization, ETS is the creator of the GRE and TOEFL and the administrator of the SAT and AP standardized tests. ETS operates in more than 180 countries, has about 3,000 regular employees, with annual revenue exceeding $1 billion.

Prior to leading the company’s human resources department, Lester, an attorney, served in the general counsel’s office at ETS, beginning in 2010.

In leading a staff of about 40 in the Office of Human Resources, Lester’s responsibilities will include overseeing talent development, compensation, benefits, performance management, talent acquisition, labor relations, and HR departmental operations. She will provide guidance to senior leaders on personnel issues, including helping to increase institutional effectiveness and remove the barriers that inhibit success within a diverse workplace.

Search committee chair Shontay Delalue, Dartmouth’s senior vice president and senior diversity officer, called Lester an inspired leader.

“Sara’s experience supporting enterprise-wide transformation efforts, her commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and her professional understanding of the laws and relationships that underpin people-centered policies make her a wonderful addition to our leadership team,” Delalue says.

Lester says she’s thrilled at the opportunity to join the Dartmouth community and is committed to honoring the existing culture while stewarding strategic change.

“I am very excited to be a part of this moment at Dartmouth. It seems like a time of transition and possibility,” says Lester, who mentioned her admiration of President-elect Sian Leah Beilock in her letter to the search committee.

“I think President-elect Beilock is interested in fostering a progressive workplace and very much understands that the staff should have as much connection and passion for Dartmouth as do the students and faculty and alumni,” she says.

As chief human resources officer at ETS, Lester led efforts to reimagine and modernize HR policy and structure during a time of rapid change for the organization. She oversaw the company’s DEI division, advised leaders on risk management planning, and developed crisis response strategies during the pandemic and other significant market shifts, including developing new health and safety programs, and guiding back-to-office planning.

Prior to joining ETS, Lester was an attorney in the legal department of D.E. Shaw & Co., a Manhattan-based financial services company, and served as a judicial clerk in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She began her legal career as a litigation associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in New York. She earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale University and a law degree from Duke University School of Law.

Lester plans to move to the Upper Valley from New Jersey in July, with her husband, Justin Goldberg, a digital marketing consultant, and their school-age children, Vivian and Emmett.

“Hanover feels like a wonderful, engaging place to have a young family. None of us are skiers yet, but we are looking forward to a good challenge. We’re also looking forward to really getting embedded in the community and making the Upper Valley our home,” she says.

In addition to Delalue, the search committee members were Mitch Davis, vice president and chief information officer; Faith Goodness, human resources director at Thayer School of Engineering; Sue Mehrer, dean of libraries; Kelly Mousley, director of human resources for campus services; Paul Mutone, associate dean for finance and administration at the Tuck School of Business; Ann Root Keith, chief operating officer for Advancement; and Kenya Tyson, senior associate provost.