For more than eight years, Hugh Price has traveled the country preaching the gospel of quality education, social service and economic empowerment as the president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League.
But in November, the Yale-educated lawyer who brought the 93-year-old organization back from the brink of financial ruin announced that he is burned out and will leave the organization in April to pursue other interests.
"It is like being a runner; you run the laps as long as you can, but there comes a time when you pass the baton," says Price, 61. "I have run my laps. I wanted to go out running strong and feeling a great sense of accomplishment."
Price came to the Urban League in 1994, eliminated a $1 million budget deficit and balanced the books six consecutive years. He recruited senior executives from corporate America to serve on the organization's board, and he raised millions for the organization, including a historic $25 million grant from the Lilly Endowment.
While raising money has been a vital part of his mission, Price has spent most of his tenure traveling the country making speeches to local Urban League affiliates. "I was on the road 39 weeks and 19 weekends last year,' Price says. "When it became a challenge to take that trip or attend that extra dinner, I knew it was problem. I didn't want to hurt the organization. In my heart, I know it is the right time to leave now."
Price notified the Urban League's board of trustees Nov. 6 that he was leaving. In a memo to board chairman Michael J. Critelli, he said he was stepping down because of the grueling travel schedule and because he believes "very strongly that leaders of national organizations like the League should not cling to their positions interminably."
Price's decision surprised his fellow leaders in the civil rights community. …