Adorning the walls of Dr. James Comer’s New Haven Office are artifacts and photos that span a lifetime. They include photos of his grandchildren, awards and honors bestowed upon him, and one wall just above his desk bears three photos from a ceremony back in 1998.
It was the commemoration of thirty years of the Yale Child Study Center where he’s worked for nearly five decades.
“Hillary Clinton came back for that ceremony,” Comer said with a smile. Comer is seen in the photo with then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and then-Yale President Rick Levin.
Clinton graduated from Yale Law School and shortly thereafter, in 1974, she heard a lecture from Comer all about the development of children, the need for investment, and the societal importance of the making sure children and adolescents develop properly.
He said Clinton was enthralled.
“She was interested in and continues to be interested in the work that we do because she’s interested in early childhood.”
Throughout the Democratic National Convention, the Clintons’ time at Yale has been a key part of the narrative about Hillary’s early life. She worked for the Children’s Defense Fund.
Comer says that work led to a life where children and their development was always her focus.
“She’s always had that curiosity and it’s that kind of curiosity that’s rare in public figures and policymakers and that’s going to help an awful lot.”
He says the DNC has acted as a good springboard for more substantive conversations about how to ensure that children get the resources they need to develop properly.
“The connection between child development and all of the other issues that we’re concerned about will be made and we can begin to come up with realistic solutions and help with the development of children because we will begin to understand how important it is in this society and age.”
Comer sees Clinton from time to time and says decades after he gave that lecture, they still have a bond. “Every time I see her she says, ‘there’s that man!’ and he came with those ideas about children and families!”