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Autism Speaks Appoints Mark Roithmayr as President

Drawing on nearly 20 years of leadership experience with the March of Dimes, Roithmayr's primary focus will be to set the strategic vision and build the infrastructure of the newly created national foundation.

(New York, NY-May 19, 2005) Former March of Dimes Senior Vice President Mark Roithmayr will join Autism Speaks as the President of the newly formed national foundation, it was announced today by co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005. Its primary mission is to raise funds and public awareness to facilitate research on autism. The appointment of Roithmayr, who assumes his new position on July 1, culminates a 6-month search for a President at a critical juncture in the battle against this pervasive disorder. Currently 1 in 166 children are diagnosed with autism-a nearly tenfold increase over the last decade, with a new case diagnosed almost every 20 minutes.

As the March of Dimes' senior executive in charge of revenue development, Roithmayr currently oversees a national fundraising operation that annually raises in excess of $220 million. His strategic approach to both corporate partnerships and grassroots fundraising enabled the March of Dimes, the pre-eminent children's health foundation combating prematurity, to raise a record-setting $101 million in its largest fundraiser WalkAmerica held this past April.

“Autism Speaks and the entire autism community will benefit from the passion and commitment of our new President, Mark Roithmayr”, said Bob Wright. “Autism currently receives less than 5% of the research funding of many less prevalent childhood diseases, despite it being the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States. That is about to change with the skillful, thoughtful and remarkably persuasive Mark Roithmayr at our helm.”

“I am leaving an organization that I have loved for more than 20 years, because of the urgent need and compelling mission of Autism Speaks,” said Roithmayr. “If I have learned anything, it is that with a clear need, desperate urgency and the strength of volunteers and committed supporters, we can change history. The March of Dimes did it with polio and Autism Speaks can do it for autism.”

Alison Tepper Singer has been the Acting CEO of Autism Speaks. As the parent of an autistic daughter, Singer was able to address and outline firsthand the day-to-day challenges affecting children and families with autism. A graduate of the Harvard Business School and producer of the CNBC series “Autism; Paying the Price”, Singer developed the blueprint for the organization and, in less than 2 months, consolidated relationships in the medical and fundraising communities. “As the mother of a child with autism, I am thrilled to see someone with Mark's broad and deep advocacy experience lead Autism Speaks,” said Singer. “I look forward to working with him as we continue to build awareness of the autism epidemic, aid families seeking treatment and education programs, and support scientists seeking a cure.” Working in tandem with Roithmayr, Singer will remain at Autism Speaks and will focus on strategic planning and communication for the foundation. She will also join the board of directors of Autism Speaks.

Dr. Gary W. Goldstein is the clinical scientific advisor for Autism Speaks, and president and chief executive officer of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, one of the nation's leading treatment centers for autism and developmental disorders. With nearly 2 million people in the United States living with autism, it is more prevalent that Down Syndrome, childhood diabetes and childhood cancer combined. There is no cure; children do not outgrow autism; it is a lifelong disability with normal life expectancy. Boys are 4 times more likely than girls to have autism. Autism affects children, families and communities.

“If you don't know a child or family affected by autism now, you soon will. And if you do know a child with autism, then you only know one child with autism - autism covers a very broad spectrum and no two autistic children are alike. This is the reason that Autism Speaks must begin to provide answers through funding and research,” said Roithmayr. “I am honored to have the opportunity to help Bob and Suzanne Wright as we begin to work with the entire autistic community to help find a cure.” Autism Speaks is a not-for-profit, 501(c) 3 organization devoted to educating the public about autism, facilitating and funding research, motivating private and governmental resources, and, ultimately to find a cure for autism. For more information, please visit