Mr Gray takes over from Ewan Aitken who has replaced Donald Anderson as leader of Edinburgh City Council.
COSLA president Pat Watters said: 'Charlie is one of the most respected education figures in Scotland and has a breadth of experience second to none.
'I look forward working with him in some challenging areas in the education field in the months ahead.'
A summary of Mr Gray's career to date follows.
Charles Gray has taken a keen interest in public services throughout his time in local government. His membership of various councils has been continuous since May 1958 having served on Lanark's 9th District Council from 1958 until 1964; on Lanark County Council from 1964 until 1974; on Strathclyde Regional Council from 1974 until 1995 since when he has been Convener of Education on North Lanarkshire Council.
He has held various leadership roles in all of the councils mentioned above.
He retired after 40 years with British Rail, serving in the operating section for 20 years, after which he progressed through several senior grades as Station Supervisor, District Inspector and in the General Manager's Office.
He is married to Catherine; they have three sons and two daughters, twelve grandchildren and two great grandchildren. His hobbies include his work, politics, classical music, reading and the works of Robert Burns, whose birthday he shares.
Previous Experience and Activities
Vice-chair of East Kilbride Development 1974 to 1985
Member of Board of Clydeport 1974 to 1985
Vice-chair of the Planning Exchange Ltd 1976 to 1986
Chairman of the Scottish National Housing and Town Planning Council 1975 to 1985
Founder Member of Scottish Development Agency 1976 to 1986
Member of Board of Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) 1986 to 1992
President of Convention of Scottish Local Authorities 1992 to 1994
Chairman of Local Government International Bureau 1992 to 1993
President of Euro Regions of International Technology (RETI) 1991 to 1993
Founder Member of Scottish Enterprise Board 1992 to 1994
Leader of UK delegation to Euro Committee of Regions 1994 to 1998
He has served on various bodies such as Glasgow Action, the Scottish Secretary's Advisory Committee on Travelling People, Right Track, the General Teachers' Council, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Opera and several committee concerned with European (EU) matters.
Presently, he chairs IASG (International Authority Standing Group for Gaelic) and is a founder member of the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers.
On being reminded of advancing years, he is COSLA's spokesperson for the elderly and chairs SHOP, the telephone helpline for pensioners.
He is a JP, CBE, FRSA and FEIS.