Harold Lyon, 2017 Intellectual Benefits to Society Award winner

Dr. Harold LyonDr. Harold Lyon is being recognized for his decades-long career in the field of education, specifically his work in governance and policy-setting in the field of gifted children.

After working with the White House Task Force on the Gifted and Talented, Dr. Lyon became the first national Director of Education for the Gifted and Talented at the U.S. Department of Education. Under his leadership, teams of leaders were trained in every state, private foundation support was stimulated and national mentor programs were developed.

Dr. Lyon worked to broaden the federal definition of gifted and talented to include divergent-thinking creative children, and he worked with Sen. Jacob Javits to pass the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act. The federal definition of gifted and talented was broadened from the strictly high IQ and academically gifted children to include those with more diverse gifts, including divergent-thinking creative children, the artistically talented, gifted young leaders or the psycho-socially gifted. In addition, it resulted in more effective ways to identify and help the gifted and talented from low-income and diversely ethnic populations.

"As a result of Hal's eight years of leadership as Federal Director of Education for the Gifted and Talented, a growing concern for gifted and talented youth emerged," said Dr. Carl R. Rogers in a letter of nomination. "Teams of leaders were trained from virtually every state, private foundation support was stimulated, and national mentor programs were developed. Through Hal Lyon's leadership a humanistic thread of concern for the whole person, affective as well as intellectual, has been woven throughout this national effort for bright and creative youth."

Dr. Lyon worked cooperatively in a non-bureaucratic fashion with private foundations to convince them to elevate education of gifted and talented children to higher funding priorities, providing them with excellent proposals his office did not have sufficient money to fund, enlisting them to fund innovative programs for the gifted. Out of these efforts came exemplary programs such as the Exploration Scholarship Program — taking gifted students on worldwide explorations as working members of the scientific expeditions funded by Dewitt Wallace of Readers Digest, the Explorers Club, the Smithsonian and National Geographic.

Dr. Lyon's international efforts included helping to plan the first World Council on Gifted Children, and he was the keynote speaker at the second World Council, held in San Francisco in 1980.