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Calls to Action

Leadership

Angela Geiger - President and CEO

Anne Marie Forbes - Chief Field Officer

Lisa Goring - Chief Program and Marketing Officer

Alyssa Herman - Chief Relationship Officer

Mathew Pletcher, Ph.D - Interim Chief Science Officer

Kevin Roy - Executive Vice President, Advocacy

Andy Shih, Ph.D - Senior Vice President, Public Health and Inclusion

Gareth Thomas – Chief Operating Officer

Angela Geiger, President and CEO

Angela Timashenka Geiger joined Autism Speaks as president and CEO in February 2016. 

She brings to the role a record of accomplishment, leading efforts to expand and strengthen family services, field support, revenue development, strategic marketing, science and advocacy.

Most recently, Geiger was the chief strategy officer for the Alzheimer’s Association, a leading organization with global, national and local impact. As part of the senior management team, Geiger worked day-to-day across all divisions and with the chapters to coordinate and execute strategy and to accelerate organizational growth. She has had accountability for more than $280 million in annual fundraising, programs and services reaching three million people a year, as well as branding and marketing, corporate initiatives, diversity and inclusion. She successfully led efforts to develop and expand programming, marketing and fundraising to increase awareness and improve the lives of those affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Prior to her work with the Alzheimer’s Association, Geiger held a variety of leadership roles at the American Cancer Society. During her eight-year tenure, she developed and implemented a business-to-business sales and market strategy, expanding the mission’s reach and increasing revenue. She also worked with the American Lung Association of Western Pennsylvania and for higher-education institutions.

Geiger earned a B.A. and an M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh, and has contributed to a variety of conferences and publications. She is based in New York City.

Anne Marie Forbes, Chief Field Officer

Anne Marie Forbes is a seasoned non-profit management professional with a long history of field-driven fundraising and mission success in health focused nonprofits.  She started her career with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) as a fundraising coordinator in Kansas City introducing the first MS Walk to the community.  Her model for working with volunteer walk coordinators in 20 communities became the standard for the rest of the country.  She then took on the National Manager of Cycling Campaigns for the NMSS.  In this role, she worked with staff and volunteers throughout the country on recruitment, retention and cultivation of participants and volunteers.  In addition, Anne Marie coordinated national relationships with partners and sponsors and heightened awareness of the MS Bike Tour cycling series and other fundraising campaigns like the MS Walk. 

From 1994-2007, she served as the Chapter President of the National MS Society, Mid-Atlantic Chapter and had 28 staff in 5 locations and raised over $4 million in revenue annually. In addition, Anne Marie served as the Chair of the Chapter Executives Council and served on numerous task forces.  She then took a break from nonprofit work and joined the financial advisor training program at Merrill Lynch. 

After volunteering for several years, Anne Marie joined the national staff of the Alzheimer’s Association in 2010 as Senior Director, Chapter Relations.  In this role, Anne Marie worked with up to 19 chapters primarily on the East Coast.  She had responsibility for the Leadership Summit, the Association’s professional development conference and worked with a cross divisional Steering Committee and Planning Team.  Anne Marie initiated multiple successful board and staff training programs to build skills and increase outcomes.  Anne Marie lives in Charlotte, NC..

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Lisa Goring, Chief Program and Marketing Officer

Ms. Goring has been providing direction and management of the family services department since its inception in 2006. Under her leadership, Autism Speaks has offered resources and support to hundreds of thousands of individuals and 

families affected by autism nationwide. These vital materials include a Resource Guide of more than 80,000 local service providers, a specially-trained Autism Response Team to answer phone calls and emails; and a variety of tool kits, including the 100 Day Kit for Newly Diagnosed Families; and more than twenty other tool kits covering challenges at every stage of life. In addition, Ms. Goring has implemented many grant programs to expand services and supports for people with autism of all ages. Ms. Goring was one of the founding members of Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism (AFAA), and currently serves as treasurer of AFAA.

In 2016 Goring added marketing and communications to her responsibilities at Autism Speaks, with the goal of increasing understanding and acceptance of autism. She will lead the marketing and communications teams to develop and execute a comprehensive strategy that will support the organization’s mission, as well as revenue generators at Autism Speaks, to better meet the needs of people with autism and those who support them.

Prior to Autism Speaks, Ms. Goring spent 19 years at Saks Fifth Avenue, where she was a vice president of merchandising, responsible for sales volume and profitability across stores, direct mail and digital channels. She is a past president of her local School Community Association and worked as a teaching assistant for students with autism. Ms. Goring holds a B.S in business administration with a concentration in marketing from Boston University. She and her husband have two children, one of whom has autism.

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Alyssa Herman, Chief Relationship Officer

Alyssa Herman joined Autism Speaks in August 2016 as the organization’s first Chief Relationship Officer. Herman is responsible for developing the growth of Autism Speaks’ external relationships and revenue. As CRO, Ms. Herman oversees the Major Gifts, Foundations, Corporate Development and National Special Events departments.

Previously, Ms. Herman served as Chief Development Officer, External Relations, where she led the Food Bank's efforts in fundraising, engagement and food sourcing. At the Food Bank, she advanced the organization's development operation and led efforts to secure funding for significant capacity building initiatives for the organization and its member network. She was responsible for more than $40 million in annual cash from private and government funders and more than $30 million in kind.  Under her leadership, cash revenue grew from $32 million to $42 million within five years.

Ms. Herman also worked as the Development Director for Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the world's largest independent international medical relief organization and winner of the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize. Ms. Herman led her fast-paced Development Department in achieving aggressive annual growth, raising more than $150 million. Prior to this role, she served as the organization's Director of Marketing and defined the organization's direct response campaigns to brand MSF's messages effectively. MSF's donor base grew from 100,000 to more than 1,000,000 in a 13-year span. In addition, Ms. Herman previously served as Vice President of Fundraising, Marketing and Communications for BRAC. She holds a B.A. with Magna Cum Laude distinction from Yeshiva University.  Ms. Herman speaks regularly at fundraising conferences, is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and has served as a board member of the Direct Marketing Fundraising Association (DMFA).  

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Mathew Pletcher, Ph.D, Interim Chief Science Officer

Mathew Pletcher serves as Vice President, Head of Genomic Discovery and the Interim Chief Science Officer.  As part of his role with Autism Speaks, he directs the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) and oversees MSSNG, a collaboration between Autism Speaks, Google, and the Hospital for Sick Children, to make available in an open-access database over 10,000 whole genome sequences from families with autism. 

Mathew received a B.S. in biology from Duquesne University and a Ph.D. in human genetics from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  He has held posts at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, the Scripps Research Institute, and Pfizer Global Research and Development.  Dr. Pletcher has authored over 50 scientific articles and book chapters including publications covering the characterization of animal models of autism and the use of genomic technologies to uncover the key biological pathways involved in autism.  In his role as Director of Medical Genetics at Pfizer, he led drug development programs for progeria, lysosomal storage diseases, sickle cell disease, myotonic dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  He has also founded the RDH12 Fund for Sight, a non-profit organization devoted to the development of a gene therapy for a genetic form of Leber Congenital Amaurosis, a congenital blinding disorder.

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Kevin Roy, Executive Vice President, Advocacy

Kevin Roy leads the advocacy mission for Autism Speaks, and has been engaged in advocacy on behalf of Autism Speaks since January 2007.

His portfolio includes the public policy work that has resulted in significant federal and state improvements to address research gaps and a variety of lifespan needs for the autism community.  As part of the advocacy team, he led efforts to pass the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 and the Autism CARES Act of 2014, which have more than doubled the amount of federal research dollars allocated to autism on an annual basis over the last ten years.  He successfully partnered with numerous disability organizations to pass the Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (ABLE Act).  The enactment of the ABLE Act culminated an eight-year campaign to gain approval for tax-free savings accounts to help individuals and families finance disability needs and is considered by some to be the most significant disability legislation since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Kevin is the founder of Chesapeake Bay Ventures, a public affairs and strategic consulting firm based in Washington, DC.   In addition to his work for Autism Speaks, he has advised early-stage biotech and technology firms on their public affairs and market strategies.  He has provided financial modeling for early-stage companies as part of his consultancy.  Prior to his time as a consultant, Kevin worked on Capitol Hill, serving as a senior advisor on federal budget policy.  Kevin began his career as an auditor for Deloitte & Touche in Boston. 

Kevin earned his MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and a BA in History from Dickinson College.   He is based in Washington, DC.

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Andy Shih, Ph.D, Senior Vice President, Public Health and Inclusion

Andy Shih joined Autism Speaks in 2006 after the merger with the National Alliance for Autism Research, where he had served as Chief Science Officer. In 2007, as Vice President of Scientific Affairs overseeing the etiology and clinical research portfolios, Andy led the development of several large international research consortia that delivered high impact scientific outcomes for the community, including autism risk genes by the Autism Genome Project, a revised recurrence rate of 19% for siblings of affected children by the Baby Siblings Research Consortium, novel parent-mediated interventions by the Toddler Treatment Network, parental age as risk factor by iCARE, and the first prevalence estimates in South Korea and other countries.

After the passage of the World Autism Awareness Day resolution at the United Nations in 2008, Andy led the development of the Global Autism Public Health (GAPH) initiative that provides technical support to country governments to enhance autism awareness, advocacy, research and services worldwide. In addition to facilitating the passage of additional autism and developmental disabilities resolutions at the United Nations and the World Health Assembly, GAPH-related research contributed to the development and dissemination of innovative capacity-building approaches to enhance autism and developmental disabilities services in low-resource communities.

As Senior Vice President of Public Health and Inclusion, Andy and his team currently support ministries, government agencies and leading NGOs in over 70 countries to deliver better outcomes and quality of life for tens of millions of affected individuals and families. With emphasis on human rights and science-driven advocacy and policy-making and the development and implementation of innovative tools and programs, they aim to help address knowledge and health disparities that continue to slow progress for the majority of individuals and families with autism and developmental disabilities around the world, including underserved communities in the US and other high-income countries.

Andy holds a PhD in molecular cell biology from New York University School of Medicine and his research background includes published studies in gene identification and characterization, virus-cell interaction, and cell-cycle regulation. He was instrumental in the cloning of a family of small GTPases involved in cell-cycle control and nuclear transport, and holds three patents on nucleic acids-based diagnostics and therapeutics. He is based in New York City.

Gareth Thomas, Chief Operating Officer

Gareth Thomas, a senior executive with decades of successful leadership experience in business operations, has joined Autism Speaks as Chief Operating Officer. As Chief Operating Officer, Gareth will bring the quality and capability of our infrastructure, operations and practices in line with the success we have had in other areas of the organization. Gareth will focus on maximizing our resources so we can have the greatest impact on the lives of people with autism.

Gareth has more than 15 years of successful executive leadership delivering in various functions and roles in diversified industries from manufacturing to entertainment. Most recently Gareth held the position of Global CPO for Universal Music Group’s (UMG). Prior to that Gareth was a member of the Executive Committee for EMI Records with responsibility for Supply Chain and Procurement. Personally recruited to EMI by the COO of a private equity company to drive operational improvement, he successfully delivered both global and regional strategies to significantly reduce costs, improve cash flow and champion supplier innovation delivering sustainable competitive advantage. Gareth also led the business transformation program to move EMI from a physical focused business into a high margin global rights management enterprise by driving consumer focus and digital innovation. Prior to EMI Gareth held senior global roles in Procurement and M&A at Imperial Chemical Industries PLC (ICI), the UK’s largest manufacturing company.

Gareth is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Great Britain. He and his wife Deborah have lived in Pennsylvania for the last 20 years. They have three daughters.

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