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Take Five with Charles Mayfield: Chief Operating Officer

15 March 2024

One of the reasons Charles gravitated toward the education field was his desire to make change. 

Headshot of Charles Mayfield

Take Five is a series that highlights some of the many members of the CPS community who are going above and beyond for our schools. If you know someone who is making a difference, nominate them to be featured here.

This week, we’re excited to spotlight someone who plays a crucial leadership role in CPS: Charles Mayfield, the District’s Chief Operating Officer (COO). As COO, Charles works to ensure that the District’s priorities and core values are reflected through the resources and services CPS provides to students, staff, and families. And just last month, Charles received the 2023 COO of the Year Award from the Operations Council!

A CPS graduate himself, as well as an Air Force veteran, Charles started working at CPS in 2008 as a budget analyst in the department now known as the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services. He then moved over to our Procurement Office, where he worked his way up into the role of Chief Procurement Officer before eventually becoming the District’s COO.

Charles gravitated toward the education field because of his instinct for helping people, his desire to make change, and his knack for learning the nuts and bolts of a large organization. 

What inspired you to pursue leadership roles at CPS?

I didn’t have a lot when I was younger, and that made it hard to picture what was possible for my future. When you don’t have the exposure to different opportunities, you’re not always aware of what you can achieve. As I got older and went into the military, I began to see different possibilities for my future. Leadership became important to me because I wanted to show people that, yes, you can achieve, you just have to visualize it. I wanted to help give that visualization.

What are your greatest priorities as COO?

The health and future of our CPS facilities. That’s why I have been so engaged in the Educational Facilities Master Plan process and all of the community engagement events around it. I’m very focused on thinking about an equitable way to get our students a world-class environment with limited funds. Based on student feedback, prioritizing the cleanliness of schools is a big focus. There are also systemic issues that impact the District, like poverty and safety, that we can’t solve alone; I am very dedicated to working with our City partners to tackle those issues. 

What do you enjoy most about this work?

This job is a dream come true for me, and although there’s a lot of pressure and a lot of challenges we’re trying to solve for, we have a really strong team. There’s so much I love about this work. I’m always learning and I really enjoy working with others. I also love visiting schools, seeing the end result, and giving the accolades to the people who are doing the hard work. At the end of the day, it’s all about the kids. So it means a lot when I meet a student and they have a smile on their face, I see that the floors of their school are clean and shining, and that they like what they ate for lunch. That’s what brings me the most joy.

What is one lesson you’ve learned during your career?

I have learned how to make an informed decision based on all the facts, instead of making a rash decision. It’s important to learn from failures and mistakes, and that comes with experience.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

I love traveling, particularly the Caribbean — I’m a beach person!

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