Charles was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Kansas. He spent his career in corporate public relations, first with the p.r. firm of Burson-Marsteller and subsequently for 30 years representing banks including Bankers Trust, JP Morgan Chase (and predecessor Chemical Bank), and Bank of America (and predecessor Fleet Bank). His final ten years were with Marsh & McLennan subsidiary Mercer in charge of global corporate communications.

Charles graduated from Northwestern University and received an M.B.A. in finance from Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

He married a Darien girl, Robin Wakeman, and they have three married sons and one grandson.