Dr. Harold Lyon, named by the Mensa Foundation as the 2017 Intellectual Benefits to Society Award winner


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 help pass the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act. Under his leadership, 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 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.

He has published seven books in addition to the Award-winning, Angling in the Smile of the Great Spirit, offered here on this web site, including one with a foreword by the late Folk singer, John Denver, entitled, Tenderness Is Strength (Harper & Row, 1997) and with his mentor, Dr. Carl Rogers (named “the most influential Psychologist in American history”), and Reinhard Tausch, On Becoming an Effective Teacher -- Person-centered teaching, psychology, philosophy, and dialogues with Carl R. Rogers and Harold Lyon (Routledge, London and New York, 2014) in which he shares his research and methods for improving the effectiveness of medical teachers, work he continues to do in his post retirement years.