Liz Feld was named president of Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, in June 2012. Feld brings decades of experience in management, strategic communications, and policy expertise in both the public and private sectors. Under her leadership, Autism Speaks has achieved critical milestones in increasing the quality of services, research funding, awareness, and advocacy for autism, most notably, the passage of the ABLE and AutismCARES Acts, and the development of MSSNG, a $50 million whole genome sequencing project with Google.
Since its inception, Autism Speaks has raised and invested more than $525 million in its mission, the majority in scientific research. During Feld’s tenure, Autism Speaks has raised nearly $140 million for the autism community.
From 2006-2012, Feld served as mayor of the Village of Larchmont in New York’s Hudson Valley. As mayor, she garnered more than $4 million in state, federal, and local grants to support community projects and earned the Village its first AAA credit rating from Moody's Investor Services. During her time in office, Feld became a member of Mayor Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns. She is an award-winning environmentalist and has received acclaim from the New York League of Conservation Voters.
Feld has worked as the director of news information at ABC News and senior vice president of communications for Nickelodeon. She has appeared on national and local television networks and authored editorial pieces on public policy issues and politics. Feld also served in the Reagan White House; first as a public affairs specialist at the Office of Management and Budget, and then as a press officer for then Vice President George H. W. Bush. She holds a B.A. degree in Government and Political Theory from Georgetown University. She and her husband are the parents of three children.
Alec M. Elbert joined Autism Speaks as Chief Strategy and Development Officer in January, 2013, where he is responsible for the development of a fundraising leadership strategy with oversight of Corporate Relations, Field Operations/Chapters, management of existing fundraising initiatives, and implementation of new revenue channels.
Alec has had an accomplished media career and most recently spent 11 years at NESN (New England Sports Network) where he specialized in advertising and affiliate revenue strategy, forecasting and business analysis. He was responsible for revenue reporting to the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer and the Ownership Group associated with the Boston Red Sox, Bruins, and Liverpool Football Club in a highly competitive business environment.
Alec holds an M.B.A. from Boston University where he focused on Financial and New Media Strategy. He also holds a B.S. Degree in Business Administration from Babson College in Wellesley, MA.
Jamitha Fields joined Autism Speaks in 2007 working for the Co-Founders as a Special Projects Manager. In less than a year she was named the Managing Director for the Founders Office – charged with leading the founders' organization-wide projects and making sure they were fully integrated within the organization.
Today, Jamitha serves as the Vice President of Community Affairs. In this role she is responsible for developing awareness around Autism Speaks initiatives, such as Early Access to Care. Jamitha also works on fostering collaborative relationships with businesses and organizations to increase awareness as we seek to further the Autism Speaks mission on behalf of individuals and families living with autism.
Jamitha was moved to become a part of Autism Speaks after witnessing the Wright’s grandson Christian struggle with autism. After working under Bob Wright at NBC Universal as his Executive Secretary, she decided to leave the entertainment industry, where she started as an NBC Page, to work with the Wrights at Autism Speaks to try and make a difference for all those families affected by autism.
Jamitha holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of Connecticut (Storrs). She and her son, Jamaal, reside in Rockland County, NY.
Lisa joined Autism Speaks as the staff liaison for the Family Services Committee in June of 2006. In May of 2007 she was appointed director of family services.
Under Lisa’s leadership, Family Services became the fourth pillar of the organization’s mission in 2007. In order to meet the needs of individuals with autism and their families, Lisa and her team have developed a wide array of resources and tools for families including a Resource Guide of over 50,000 local resources across the United States, an Autism Response Team to answer phone calls and emails from families looking for resources, and a variety of tool kits such as the 100 Day Kit for newly diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit, a Transition Tool Kit for families of individuals entering adulthood, an Employment Tool Kit to assist adults on the spectrum with finding a job and more. In addition, Lisa has implemented several grant programs over the years to expand services for people with autism and to increase the field of providers serving the autism community. In her role at Autism Speaks, Lisa has appeared on various media outlets including the Today Show, CNBC’s Squawk Box, Nightly News with Brian Williams, CBS News, CNN, the Katie Show and more.
Lisa's prior work experience includes a 19 year career at Saks Fifth Avenue where she was Vice President, Divisional Merchandise Manager. In addition, she is a past president of her local School Community Association, has participated on many special education committees, is a frequent parent member of the committee on special education in her school district, has presented at several autism conferences, and has worked as a teaching assistant at Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism's Martin C. Barell School.
Lisa holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Boston University. She lives in Manhasset, New York with her husband Paul and two children, one of whom has autism.
John Gruber joined Autism Speaks as Executive Vice President, Finance & Administration, in August, 2014. In this role, John is responsible for all Autism Speaks’ and affiliate organizations’ financial matters, including direct fiscal functions, financial reporting and overseeing all compliance with governmental contracts and grants. In addition, John has oversight of our IT, Facilities, and Human Resources infrastructure and works closely with our leadership team to provide operational oversight and strategic direction to support Autism Speaks’ ambitious growth goals.
John brings to Autism Speaks over 30 years’ experience in finance and accounting, strategic planning, human resources, information technology, and facilities management. In his most recent position as Chief Operating and Financial Officer for Wenner Media LLC, John was responsible for all of the financial functions and business operations of the Company.
John holds a Bachelor of Science degree from St. John’s University, and is a Certified Public Accountant.
Cathy Kanefsky joined Autism Speaks in June of 2009 as Director of Field Training and Development, and was promoted to National Director of Chapter Development in March of 2010. In her current role as Vice President of Chapter Development, Cathy Kanefsky is driving overall growth throughout the field. Her primary focus is guiding success in fundraising, volunteer development and continued activity that supports mission integration throughout the field. The field's continued focus on revenue growth through Walk Now for Autism Speaks will be enhanced by new fundraising initiatives; and focus on mission will ensure science, awareness, family services and advocacy are integrated into all field activity. Under Cathy's leadership, a regional field structure is being developed that will facilitate growth into a chapter based organization.
Cathy is a 16-year veteran of the not-for-profit world. Before joining Autism Speaks, she served as the National Director of Family Team Development for the March of Dimes, where she was responsible for the development and implementation of a pilot program that led to an organization-wide launch. Prior to her national position at the March of Dimes, Cathy served as the State Director of the Delaware Chapter.
Cathy is personally dedicated to her work at Autism Speaks as the mother of a 17-year son and 19-year old twin sons with autism. Cathy holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree in Communications from the University of Delaware.
Rob Ring was named Chief Science Officer in June of 2013. Upon his appointment Rob said his first goal would be to "put science to work for our families," and that makes perfect sense given his background. Rob first joined Autism Speaks in June of 2011 as Vice President of Translational Research. In that role, Rob was responsible for the development and implementation of the foundation’s expanding translational research portfolio, which serves to accelerate the process of converting scientific breakthroughs and innovations in technology into actual products that address the wide range of unmet needs of the autism community, from healthcare to education to daily living. Rob also serves as President of Delivering Scientific Innovation for Autism (DELSIA), the venture philanthropy arm of Autism Speaks that is helping to facilitate translational activities in the for-profit sector required to develop commercial products that will improve the quality of life and health for individuals with autism.
Prior to joining Autism Speaks, Rob served as Senior Director and Head of the Autism Research Unit at Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development in Groton, Conn. There he led the first dedicated research group in the pharmaceutical industry focused specifically on the discovery and development of medicines for neurodevelopmental disorders, specifically ASD. Prior to Pfizer, Rob worked for over 10 years in psychiatric medicines discovery and development at Wyeth Research in Princeton, N.J.
Rob earned a B.A. double major in both Fine Art and Biology from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Calif., and a Ph.D. in Molecular Neurobiology from City of Hope in Southern California. He holds adjunct faculty appointments in the Departments of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (N.Y.) and Pharmacology and Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine (Philadelphia).
Michael joined Autism Speaks as the EVP of Strategic Communications in April of 2013. In his role Rosen manages all aspects of Autism Speaks’ communications and public relations efforts in support of its mission. He is responsible for developing and implementing communication strategies to broaden the impact of Autism Speaks’ programs in all key areas: science, advocacy, family services and awareness.
Michael came to Autism Speaks after a career in television news. Most recently he was at CBS News, where he held several top editorial leadership positions including executive producer of CBS This Morning: Saturday. In addition to tenures as senior vice president at CSTV and senior broadcast producer at CNN (Paula Zahn NOW), Michael was a senior producer for special events at ABC News, where he helped lead the network’s coverage of the war in Iraq and ABC’s Peabody award-winning coverage of the September 11 terrorist attacks. His work has been recognized with three Emmy awards, two Peabody awards and four DuPont awards.
Michael holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boston College. He has three children Molly, Carrie and Nicky. His son Nicky has autism. He and his wife Jane live in New York City.