Hugh B. Price (LAW '66) on His Involvement with The National Commission for Social, Emotional, a

Hugh B. Price (LAW '66)

Hugh B. Price (LAW '66) was recently appointed to serve on a National Commission for Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD). We asked him to talk to us about his personal next steps, and what the SEAD Commission hopes to accomplish.

What brought you to this organization?

I have been deeply involved for much of my career in creating programs and advancing public policies related to promoting youngsters’ social, emotional, and academic development. I was instrumental in conceiving and launching the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, which is a second-chance intervention for school dropouts. SEAD lies at the core of ChalleNGe. When I headed the National Urban League, the centerpiece of my tenure was our Campaign for African-American Achievement. Plus I have written three books and many articles on these topics.

What is the mission of the organization?
As indicated on its website (, the Commission will engage educators, families, community leaders, researchers, and policymakers in reframing what a successful K-12 education means in our country. Specifically, it will:
  • Build a broad alliance of stakeholders speaking with a unified voice about the urgency of fully integrating social, emotional, and academic development into the fabric of K-12 education.

  • Elevate promising practices in schools across the country and innovative policies that support their work.

  • Identify the next generation of research needed to effectively integrate social, emotional, and academic development.

  • Develop a 5-10 year roadmap that recommends specific actions steps in research, practice, and policy to create a K-12 education system that supports the whole student.

What makes this organization unique?

After decades of intense and, many would argue, counterproductive concentration in school reform on testing and accountability, the Commission is unique in its long overdue focus on the more holistic goal of fostering the social, emotional, and academic development of young people. Its structure and composition are uniquely calibrated to this mission. The Commission is comprised of a broad cross-section of leaders, from education practitioners and researchers to governors, business executives and community organizations. It will be augmented by panels of distinguished scientists and educators as well as a youth commission and parent advisory panel.

Do you have a personal connection to the mission?

As mentioned above, I originated the ChalleNGe program and focused the National Urban League on SEAD when I led it. A generation ago when I headed a black men’s civic and social group, we launched a mentoring program for African American adolescents who were struggling in school. The program is still thriving more than a quarter century later.

How do you perceive the issues impacting your organization in its future?

The Commission will operate for two years and then presumably sunset. Hopefully by then it will have deeply impacted public opinion and policy, as well as education practice, family priorities and community programs vis-à-vis SEAD.

Who was a notable mentor?

I proudly claim two eminent faculty members at Yale as longtime professional mentors, role models and treasured friends:

  • Dr. James P. Comer – Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine Child Study Center. Founder of the Comer School Development Program.

  • Professor Edmund W. Gordon – John M. Musser Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, Yale University.

What experience at Yale most impacted where you are today?

To help support my wife and infant child while in law school, I worked part-time as a social group worker and mentor for a group of black adolescent boys who were considered juvenile delinquents and frequently in trouble with the police. During our two years together, they got into nary another scrape with the law. Through this experience I discovered the power and potential of mentoring, aka fostering youngsters’ social and emotional development. This work inspired my third-year term paper at YLS and helped chart my future course professionally.

What is your next big event or project?

My memoir is coming out next spring under the auspices of John F. Blair, Publisher. I expect to devote considerable time to marketing and promoting it and, hopefully, making media appearances and attending book events around the country.

What is your best advice for recent grads?

Have as much fun as you can professionally so long as you get away with it financially. Try to choose a career that you wake up every day eager to pursue. Work hard. Determine the terms of success in your position and then figure out how to make an even more significant mark in your field so that supervisors, search firms and talent scouts take an even more expansive view of your potential. Decide on a career-life balance that works for you and your family, and then be at peace with it. See the world and soak up other cultures.

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