NEW YORK, NY (January 5, 2011) – Autism Speaks, North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today announced the appointment of two new members to its board of directors, Tim Jones, CEO of ZenithOptimedia North America, and David M. Wittels, Senior Managing Director, Diamond Castle Holdings. Bob Wright, chairman of the board and co-founder of Autism Speaks, announced the appointments during a recent board meeting.
Jones manages ZenithOptimedia in North America, part of the world's largest media services group, Publicis Groupe, and also serves as a member of ZO's worldwide executive committee. Under his leadership since 2005, ZO's industry-leading North American media brands have experienced unprecedented growth. Ranked by the Research Company Evaluating the Media Agency Industry (RECMA) as the second largest, fastest-growing agency, ZO has welcomed a world-class roster of new clients including Nestlé, JPMorgan Chase, Twentieth Century Fox, Payless Shoes, Ubisoft, Caesar's Entertainment, Jenny Craig, Reckitt-Benckiser, Sonic and L'Oreal. ZO's new business success and the retention and expansion of existing client partnerships have also garnered RECMA's highest three and six-year agency performance scores.
Jones' career began at Ogilvy and Mather, Bates and ZO International. Among other awards, in 2007 Tim was named an Ad Age Media Maven. Under Jones' direction, Zenith has worked to get nearly $11 million in donated media for Autism Speaks' Ad Council campaign.
Wittels is a Senior Managing Director and co-founder of private equity firm Diamond Castle Holdings. His primary areas of focus are the media, healthcare and industrial sectors. Prior to founding Diamond Castle in 2004, Mr. Wittels was a Managing Director at DLJ Merchant Banking Partners, which he joined in 1986.
Wittels is a Director of Bonten Media Group, Checksmart Financial Company and NES Rentals Holdings, Inc. He is a former Chairman of the Board of Arcade Holding Corp. and a former Director of Wilson Greatbatch Technologies, Inc. (NYSE:GB), Katz Media Group Inc., Mueller Group Inc., Advanstar Holdings Corp., Jostens Inc., Ziff Davis Holdings, Inc. and several other companies. He holds a B.S., summa cum laude, from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
David lives on Long Island with his wife Cindy, daughter Gabrielle, and son Tyler, who is on the spectrum. The Wittels family has the nation's leading Walk Now for Autism Speaks fundraising team, having raised more than $1,000,000 for Autism Speaks since 2005 through their Walk Team, “Tyler W.”
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism increased 57 percent from 2002 to 2006. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $142.5 million to research through 2014 and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization 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. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks' Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its Light it Up Blue initiative. Also, Autism Speaks award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council has received over $249 million in donated media. Autism Speaks' family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government's response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments in 23 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 14 states. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.
About the Co-Founders
Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners, Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association and served as vice chairman, General Electric, and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the boards of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, RAND Corporation and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Suzanne Wright has an extensive history of active involvement in community and philanthropic endeavors, mostly directed toward helping children. She is a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards, such as the CHILD Magazine Children's Champions Award, Luella Bennack Volunteer Award, Spirit of Achievement award by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's National Women's Divisionand The Women of Vision Award from the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 Heroes and Pioneers category, a list of the most influential people in the world, for their commitment to global autism advocacy. They have also received numerous awards such as the first ever 'Double Helix Award for Corporate Leadership, NYU Child Advocacy Award, Castle Connolly National Health Leadership Award and The American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award. In May of 2010 they received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degrees from St. John's University in Queens and delivered the commencement address as the first married couple to be bestowed such an honor.