NEW YORK, NY (August 16, 2012) – Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, today announced that iconic American fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger and his wife, Dee Hilfiger, have been appointed to its board of directors. Bob Wright, chairman of the board and co-founder of Autism Speaks, announced their appointment during a recent board meeting.
“Tommy and Dee have been doing important work on behalf of individuals with autism and their families for some time,” said Autism Speaks Co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright. “Their involvement in this cause is a tremendous boost to our efforts to increase awareness and advocate on behalf of all who are affected by this disorder. We are grateful for Tommy and Dee’s commitment to Autism Speaks and welcome them to our Board of Directors.”
Tommy and Dee each have a child affected by autism. Together, they have been staunch advocates for the autism community, raising funds and awareness of the disorder which affects one in 88 children and one in 54 boys in the United States.
In September 2010, Tommy and Dee co-hosted Autism Speaks’ Third Annual World Focus on Autism, an event that brought together first spouses from 11 countries to discuss solutions to combat the global crisis of autism. In December 2011, Dee served as co-chair and Tommy was honored at “A Funny Affair,” a benefit for Autism Speaks and New York Center for Autism. The event raised $1.3 million for autism research and services for families, thanks in part to the fundraising efforts of Tommy and Dee and the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation.
To kick off Autism Speaks’ global Light It Up Blue initiative and World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, 2012, the Hilfigers joined the Wrights and military families affected by autism for a special lighting ceremony at the Empire State Building, illuminating the iconic structure bright blue to raise autism awareness. Tommy is also currently featured in a television, radio, web and print public service announcement (PSA) campaign for Autism Speaks. The PSA, created by the Ad Council and BBDO, highlights the extraordinary one in a million odds Tommy faced in establishing his successful career contrasted with the startling one in 88 odds of having a family member diagnosed with autism.
Furthering their commitment to Autism Speaks’ mission, Tommy and Dee and the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation recently awarded Autism Speaks significant grants for 2012. In addition, Autism Speaks and the Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation are partnering to host a fall 2012 autism awareness event at the Tommy Hilfiger Fifth Avenue store in New York City for families affected by autism.
Tommy Hilfiger’s remarkable career began in 1969 as a high school student when he opened a small chain of stores called People’s Place in his hometown of Elmira, N.Y. In 1979, he moved to New York City to pursue a career as a fashion designer. Hilfiger introduced his first signature collection in 1985 by modernizing time-honored American classics with updated fits and details. For over 25 years, under Hilfiger’s guidance, vision, and leadership as principal designer, the Tommy Hilfiger Group has become one of very few globally recognized designer brands offering a wide range of American-inspired apparel and accessories.
Dee Hilfiger graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1988 with a degree in communications. Raised in Rhode Island, Dee lived in Paris for several years where she was signed with Ford Models before returning to New York. Tommy and Dee married in December 2008, and now live in New York City. In March 2012, Dee launched DEESIGNS, a collection of personalized handbags for HSN.
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated one in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 1000 percent increase in the past 40 years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed over $180 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 95 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.