Board of Directors

Board Members

Curtis Arledge

Treasurer, Autism Speaks
Secretary, Autism Speaks
Chief Executive Officer, Mariner Investment Group 

Curtis Arledge, treasurer and secretary of the Autism Speaks board, is the chief executive officer of Mariner Investment Group. Prior to that, he was the vice chairman and chief executive officer of BNY Mellon Investment Management. Additionally, he was responsible for BNY Mellon Wealth Management.

Before Mr. Arledge joined BNY Mellon in November 2010, he was the chief investment officer for fundamental fixed income portfolios at BlackRock, Inc. He joined BlackRock from Wachovia Corporation, where he was the global head of the fixed income division within the bank's corporate and investment banking group. He spent 12 years of his career at Wachovia and had oversight for various business lines in the U.S., Europe and Asia, including leveraged finance, investment grade, global rates, structured products, corporate loan and commercial real estate portfolios, and financial institutions investment banking.

He and his wife Diane have a son on the autism spectrum.

Franklin Becker

Founding Partner/Hospitality Dept.; Founder & CEO/ F Becker Hospitality

Chef Franklin Becker's commitment to Autism Speaks is deeply personal, inspired by his journey as the father of a young adult on the autism spectrum. This connection motivated him to establish the Autism Speaks Chef Gala in 2007 – a role he continues to champion. Becker is a highly respected figure in the culinary industry captivating food enthusiasts at high-end and casual dining spots.

With over three decades of experience, Becker has left an indelible mark on New York's dining scene, spearheading beloved kitchens, including Catch, The Little Beet and Capitale.

In 2020, he joined forces with Stephen Loffredo to create the Hospitality Department group, consisting of The Press Club Grill; Point Seven; Coral, a ten-seat omakase counter; Bronze Owl; and Sweet Graffiti. Other projects include Manhattanville Market, home to five unique concepts: Universal Taco, Butterfunk Biscuit Co., Shai Hummusiya, Farmhand, and Benny Casanova's.

Throughout the years, Becker has consistently proved his versatility and appetite for innovation. His culinary philosophy extends beyond flavor; diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at 27, 

Becker emphasizes health-conscious cooking, a central theme in his three cookbooks. His career seamlessly integrates culinary skills, health awareness, and a commitment to supporting his community.

Judy Benardete

Judy Benardete is a distinguished former consultant and accomplished venture capitalist with an educational background encompassing Wellesley College and Harvard Business School. She co-founded and served as Chairman of the Council of Alumni for Social Enterprise (CASE), an institution renowned for bestowing summer research fellowships upon graduate students from Harvard and the University of Chicago. These fellowships provided students the opportunity to write and teach case studies on organizations that were having the greatest impact on social issues.

In addition to her pivotal role within CASE, Mrs. Benardete assumed significant responsibilities on the Deans Council at Harvard Kennedy School and the University of Chicago's Harris School. Beyond her professional engagements, her personal journey as an autistic person and as a parent to a neurodivergent child, has given her a profound appreciation for the mission and impact of Autism Speaks. As a testament to her commitment, she initiated the establishment of a community preschool aimed at supporting a more inclusive, neurodiverse community. Mrs. Benardete's current focus is dedicated to enhancing the accessibility of mental health resources and appropriate educational resources for individuals on the autism spectrum.

An avid traveler, Judy has spent time living and working in France, Kenya, and South Africa. She lives with her husband, daughter, and Labrador retriever in New York where she enjoys yoga, walking with her dog, e-bike riding, and spending time with her family.

Tom Bernard

Tom Bernard had a 30-year career in global finance before retiring in Aspen, Colorado to devote himself to writing and philanthropy. He has served on several corporate and nonprofit boards, and was board president of Aspen Words, the literary arm of the Aspen Institute.

In 2004, Mr. Bernard and his wife Sallie founded The Extreme Sports Camp, which provided summer and winter recreational opportunities for children on the autism spectrum. The nonprofit organization expanded to include adults and year-round programs beyond recreation, including job training, life skills and the arts. In light of the broadened mission, the organization was renamed Ascendigo.

Mr. Bernard purchased and remodeled a home in Carbondale, Colorado called The Yellow House, which is now home to three young men with autism, including the Bernards’ son, Bill, and a host couple. The Yellow House Operations, LLC staff rotates to provide 24 / 7 supervision, and the residents participate in Ascendigo programs along with non-residents. The house features state-of-the-art safety and supervisory technology, and is a model of supervised community living for adults who are more significantly impacted by autism.

Scott R. Carpenter

President and Chief Executive Officer, Savor Street Foods

Scott R. Carpenter is the president and chief executive officer of Savor Street Foods (formerly The Bachman Company), a contract manufacturer of baked and extruded food products for private brands. He joined the Bachman Company in 1992, becoming vice president of sales and marketing in 1996 and later serving as president from 2000 to 2012. Mr. Carpenter purchased the company in 2012, and repositioned it as a contract manufacturer focused on baked, gluten-free, and organic convenience foods.

Mr. Carpenter, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lehigh University, has served on various industry and community boards.

He and his wife Suzie have two daughters. Their younger daughter, now a young adult, was diagnosed at an early age with autism spectrum disorder.

Since 2005, Mr. Carpenter has been an active supporter of Autism Speaks. In 2009, he helped found the annual Autism Speaks Fall Classic fundraising event at Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey. 

Jennifer Caserta

Chief People Officer, SoundCloud

Jennifer Caserta holds the position of Chief People Officer at SoundCloud, where she is entrusted with creating a work environment that values, celebrates and inspires employees.

Previously, as AMC Networks' chief transformation and people officer, Ms. Caserta was charged with driving and facilitating organizational structures and strategies that best positioned AMC Networks for successful innovation in storytelling, story formats, new products, distribution and advertising, and strengthen and grow its portfolio of assets.

Through her 14-year tenure with IFC, the brand attracted top-tier talent and cultivated the success of original series including Portlandia, the Emmy, Peabody and WGA-winning sketch comedy series starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein; Emmy-nominated docu-parody Documentary Now! starring Fred Armisen and Bill Hader, written by Seth Meyers and hosted by Helen Mirren; critical darling Brockmire, starring Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet; and musical variety sketch show “Sherman’s Showcase” created by Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle, and executive produced by John Legend’s Get Lifted Film Co.

Ms. Caserta was also a key architect in AMC Networks taking on a minority ownership stake in leading comedy brand Funny or Die as well as Levity Live, a leading player in live comedy with an extensive network of premium comedy venues in the U.S., including The Improv. In addition to sitting on both boards, Ms. Caserta is responsible for the oversight of leveraging these investments for AMC Networks.

Among her many accolades, Ms. Caserta has been named one of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business,” and listed in “The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Power 100.” Variety has included Ms. Caserta in its “Power of Women: New York Impact” list, Adweek named her a “Person of the Moment” and Fast Company recognized her as a “Who’s Next” leader. Ms. Caserta sits on the executive board for the New York Television Festival and the CTAM Education Foundation at Harvard Business School while also serving on the CTAM board of directors and on the Investments and Benefits Committee for AMC Networks. In addition to serving on the board of directors for Autism Speaks, she is member of the Event Committee for the annual Autism Speaks Celebrity Chef Gala and recently was the grand marshal, with her son, of the Westchester/Fairfield Autism Speaks Walk.

Laurie Chern

Laurie Chern is a longtime autism advocate, philanthropist and volunteer. She earned a Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration in learning skills. For more than two decades, Ms. Chern has spearheaded local and national efforts to improve the lives of people with autism in areas of critical need. Her early involvement with Autism Speaks from 2011-2013, played a pivotal role in increasing autism awareness through the development of a Community Ambassador Program in which she trained volunteers to educate and engage healthcare providers, medical facilities and universities about autism. From 2013-2015, she led a national Early Access to Care program involving more than 100 volunteers and 30 clinicians providing early detection screening to young families concerned about their child’s development. In 2016, with a forward thinking recognition of the need to advance employment for autistic adults, Ms. Chern assisted in the local Mid-West Small Business Accelerator program, educating community leaders and employers on the benefits of hiring autistic jobseekers. She served as Board Chair of the Autism Speaks Chicago chapter from 2015-2018 and is currently a member of the Community Engagement Committee of the Upper Midwest Leadership Council. Her passion is providing resources, services and support to families impacted by autism who find themselves without a support system. Ms. Chern and her husband, Eric, are founders of the Autism Speaks Chip In Casino Night, a Chicago event that has raised more than $3M for Autism Speaks mission work since its 2016 inception.
The Cherns have 3 children, one of whom has autism.

Jason Dove

President of Palladium Window Solutions, LLC

Jason Dove's story is one of leadership, both in business and in the community, underscored by a personal journey that fuels his drive to make a difference in the world, particularly for those on the autism spectrum. A graduate of Ithaca College, Mr. Dove is not only a successful professional but also a devoted husband and father to three children, two of whom are autistic. This personal connection to autism drives his commitment as an active supporter and advocate within the community.

As the current President of Palladium Window Solutions, LLC, Jason has brought his extensive experience in building services to one of New York City's leading window cleaning companies for skyscrapers. Prior to that, Jason showcased an ability to foster growth and development as President of Platinum, a building maintenance and restoration company. However, it's his role outside the boardroom that truly defines his passion. Inspired by his children, Jason chairs the Autism Speaks Winged Foot golf event, directly contributing to the autism community and advocating for greater awareness and support.

Jason is also one of the founders of The Kids for Kids Foundation. A community of friends, families, and colleagues raising money for organizations that support children and families struggling with medical challenges, specifically St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Jason and his Wife Laurie reside in Alpine, NJ and enjoy traveling and spending all their free time with their family.

Barry R. Feirstein

Barry R. Feirstein is the retired founder of Feirstein Capital Management, a private investment management firm.

He is a graduate of Brooklyn College and the Harvard Business School.

Barry currently serves on the board of Autism Speaks.

He has served two terms as chairman of the Brooklyn College Foundation. While serving at the foundation, he founded the Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema. This state-of-the- art school is located at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn. It is one of the only film schools located in a working studio.

Mr. Feirstein is a member of the Weill Cornell Deans Council and a former trustee and former chairman of the Anderson Foundation for Autism. He has served on the boards of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Independent Film Project and the Friars Foundation.

Dr. M. Daniele Fallin

Dean of Public Health at the Emory Rollins School of Public Health

Dr. M. Daniele Fallin, the James W. Curran Dean of Public Health at the Emory Rollins School of Public Health and a Board Member of Autism Speaks, is renowned for her impactful research in genetic epidemiology related to autism and other neuropsychiatric disorders. With over 250 scientific publications and more than 30,000 citations, her work focuses on genetics, environment, and mental health, enhancing our understanding of autism.

Leading key studies such as the Maryland site of the Study to Explore Early Development and the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation, Fallin has provided critical insights into autism. She also played a pivotal role in the B’more Healthy Brain and Child Development study and champions workplace and school-based mental health as essential for public mental health.

Prior to her tenure at Rollins, Fallin spent 22 years at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, directing the Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities. She earned her PhD in genetic epidemiology from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Florida–Gainesville, laying the foundation for her contributions to Autism Speaks and the field at large.

Adam Frazier

President and CEO, Columbia Property Trust

As President and Chief Executive Officer of Columbia Property Trust, Adam Frazier is responsible for the Company’s overall business strategy, capital allocation, operations and the performance of its portfolio of investments. Mr. Frazier has two decades of experience in real estate asset management, development and investments. Prior to joining Columbia in 2022, he served for eight years as Vice President at Oxford Properties, leading the New York operations. While there, he leased more than 10 million square feet of property and was part of New York City’s most notable developments including The Mosaic District, 510 Madison, 250 West 55th Street, Hudson Yards and St. John’s Terminal.

Prior to joining Oxford, Mr. Frazier was a development manager for Boston Properties. It was during his nearly seven-year tenure that he managed the development of 250 West 55th Street, a 1 million square-foot office tower in Midtown Manhattan, just steps from Carnegie Hall and Central Park. Then, as vice president of leasing at Boston Properties, Mr. Frazier was responsible for developing and implementing a successful leasing strategy across the firm’s 10 million square-foot portfolio, which included developing projects from the ground up and repositioning assets in the existing portfolio.

Earlier, Mr. Frazier was the development manager at Edens responsible for developing the Mosaic District in Fairfax County, Va., a 2 million square-foot mixed-use center, among other projects. He began his professional career as an equity trader, trading NASDAQ-listed technology stocks for Salomon Smith Barney/Citibank from 1999 to 2004.

Mr. Frazier earned a BSBA degree from Bucknell University and an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. He is a member of the Bucknell University Real Estate Advisory Board, the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and the Young Men’s and Women’s Real Estate Association of New York, where he served on its board as treasurer and governor. He earned REBNY’s 2011 Most Promising Salesperson of the Year Award and was the New York Cares Honoree in 2014. 

Thomas Frazier II, Ph.D. 

Chairman, Autism Speaks
Professor of Psychology, John Carroll University

Thomas Frazier II, Ph.D. was elected chairman of the board of Autism Speaks on April 1, 2024. 

Dr. Frazier is a clinical psychologist and autism researcher on the faculty at John Carroll University. Dr. Frazier previously served as Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks from 2017-2020 where he was responsible for overseeing all science initiatives, including the MSSNG genomic research project and the Autism Care Network. From 2013-2017, Dr. Frazier served as Director of the Center for Autism at the Cleveland Clinic.

As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Frazier has been involved for more than 17 years in evaluation, treatment and research with a focus on improving autism identification; new treatment approaches; creating and refining measures of autism symptoms, translational genetic studies; and quality of life in people with autism and their families. Dr. Frazier has published more than 130 peer-reviewed papers and numerous conference presentations.

He and his wife have two children, one of whom has autism.

William T. "Bill" Giles

Former EVP & CFO, Auto Zone

Bill Giles joined AutoZone as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Finance in 2006 and retired in 2020 as Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President of Finance, Information Technology and Store Development. Under his leadership the national car parts chain maintained approximately 6,000 stores and had annual sales of $14.6B. From 1991 to May 2006, Mr. Giles held several positions with Linens 'n Things, Inc., most recently as the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He currently serves on the boards of Brinker International and Floor & Decor Holdings, Inc. and chairs the audit committees at both companies. He also volunteers his time as Trustee for Alfred University and as board member of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. 

Mr. Giles and his wife Jill have three children.

Darren Goode

Chief Marketing Officer, Modern Age

Darren Goode is the chief marketing officer at Modern Age, the first healthcare company designed to help people slow down their aging. Appointed in October 2022, Mr. Goode oversees all aspects of marketing across brand, growth, PR & communications, advertising and creative, social media, and e-commerce.

His prior experience included chief marketing officer of Zumper, the largest privately-owned home rental marketplace in North America where they were named America's Best Startup by Forbes, and President, Global Chief Marketing & Commercial Officer at Elvie, a women's health technology company. While at Elvie, he launched the world's first silent wearable breast pump, created iconic advertising, and helped raise over $42M in venture capital funding. Mr. Goode also served as a Board Observer.

Over the past two decades, Mr. Goode has served in senior leadership marketing and general management roles with Apple, L'Oreal, Procter & Gamble, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures and Elvie. His industry experience spans consumer technology, real estate, health and entertainment and he has worked in the United States, Canada, Latin America, UK, Europe and China.

In addition to serving on the Board of Autism Speaks, Mr. Goode is a member of the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA). He and his wife, Jennifer Peters, are the proud parents of a child with autism.

Brian L. Harper

Founder and Managing Partner, 11North Partners

Brian Harper is deeply committed to advocating for people with autism, a dedication inspired by his son's diagnosis. Since joining the board in 2017, Brian recently served as Chairman of the Board (2020-2024). He has been a staunch advocate for ensuring equal opportunities for people with autism spectrum disorder, driving efforts to enhance research, advocacy, services, and support within the community.

Beyond his philanthropic work, Brian boasts over twenty-five years of experience in the real estate sector. Currently, he serves as the founder and managing partner of 11North Partners, a real estate investment company based in NYC. Prior to 11North, he held the positions of CEO and President of RPT Realty (a publicly listed NYSE company), CEO of Rouse Properties, and key positions at GGP and RED Development. His contributions to real estate have been recognized with several industry awards.

Brian resides in New York City with his wife and two children, continuing to influence both the real estate and philanthropic sector involving the special needs community.

Matthew Higgins

Co-founder and CEO, RSE Ventures

Matt Higgins is a noted serial entrepreneur and growth equity investor as co-founder and CEO of private investment firm RSE Ventures, as well as vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins and guest Shark on four-time Emmy-Award-winning TV show Shark Tank.

Mr. Higgins began his career in public service as a journalist before becoming the youngest mayoral press secretary in New York City at 26, where he managed the global media response to the September 11th terrorist attacks. He became one of the first employees – and ultimately chief operating officer – of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the federally funded government agency created to plan the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. Mr. Higgins helped organize the largest international design competition in history, culminating in Reflecting Absence, the September 11th National Memorial, and the development of the 1,776 -foot-tall One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the northern hemisphere.

Mr. Higgins co-founded New York City based RSE Ventures in 2012, amassing a multi-billion-dollar investment portfolio of leading brands across sports and entertainment, media and marketing, consumer and technology industries – including several of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies.

RSE has successfully backed many challenger brands from inception, including RESY, an Open Table competitor that American Express acquired in 2019; the world's premier drone racing circuit, the Drone Racing League; and the International Champions Cup, the largest privately-owned soccer tournament featuring Europe’s top clubs. Higgins is also co-owner of VaynerMedia, founded by digital marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk, and a partner in early-stage venture fund Vayner/RSE.

In 2013, Mr. Higgins cofounded Derris, a brand strategy and communications firm that has helped grow many leading brands such as Warby Parker, Harry’s, Everlane and Glossier. In 2016, he broadened RSE’s investment focus to rapidly expanding fine dining and fast casual concepts, including David Chang’s Momofuku and Fuku, Milk Bar, &pizza and Bluestone Lane.  

Mr. Higgins received his BA in political science from Queens College and his JD from Fordham Law, where he was a member of the Fordham Law Review. He was named a Top 40 Under 40 executive by Crain’s New York and by Sports Business Journal. In 2019, Mr. Higgins received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor – joining the ranks of seven former U.S. presidents, Nobel Prize winners and others who have made it their mission to share their knowledge, compassion and generosity with those less fortunate.

Mr. Higgins is a longstanding board member of Autism Speaks and is the father of a child with autism.

Adrian M. Jones

Vice Chairman, Autism Speaks
Managing Director, Merchant Banking Division, Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Adrian M. Jones serves as the vice chairman of the Autism Speaks board, and he is a managing director at Goldman Sachs in New York in the company's Principal Investment Area.

He joined Goldman Sachs in 1994 as an associate of the Investment Banking Division. He has also served in the company's communications and media department, on mobility assignments in Equity Capital Markets and in the executive office of Goldman Sachs International in London.

Mr. Jones grew up in Ireland and served as a lieutenant in the Irish Army. In 1987 to 1988, he served in the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Southern Lebanon. He is a 1986 graduate of University College in Galway, and earned his Master of Business Administration from Harvard University in 1994.

He is the father of a child with autism.

Tim Jones

Chief Executive Officer, Americas, Publicis Media

Tim Jones is currently the chief executive officer for the Americas at Publicis Media.

Prior to that, he led ZenithOptimedia The ROI Agency in North America, where he was committed to ensuring that each agency client received a better return per media dollar invested than any of their competitors. Under his leadership since 2005, ZO experienced unprecedented growth and welcomed a world-class roster of new media clients, including Kering, Coty, Reckitt Benckiser, Liberty Mutual, Kohl’s, JPMorgan Chase, 20th Century Fox, SONIC, Nintendo, Oracle, Farmers Insurance, Pizza Hut, Bridgestone, Liberty Mutual, DreamWorks and GoPro.

Mr. Jones has been a leader in the development and growth of Moxie — an interactive agency which is part of Publicis Groupe — and he is responsible for Performics — a performance marketing agency also a part of Publicis Groupe —and its worldwide roll out to some 40 countries.

In addition to being an Autism Speaks board member, Mr. Jones also sits on the executive board of the AdCouncil and Advertising Education Foundation.

He and his wife Shelley have three children, Dominic, Benjamin and Olivia.

Aidan Kehoe

Co-founder, CEO and Board Member, Skout Secure Intelligence

Aidan Kehoe is co-founder, CEO and board member of Skout Secure Intelligence, a cybersecurity firm headquartered in New York. Mr. Kehoe has been actively involved in all aspects of the firm's development and expansion since its founding in 2012, with the goal of making cybersecurity accessible to all companies.

Prior to Skout, Mr. Kehoe founded several other enterprises including Oxford Global, a global risk management company, which was acquired by Willis Towers Watson in 2013. He also has many years of experience working in an investment capacity with an institutionally sized private family office.

Mr. Kehoe is also the chairman of the U.S. Leaders Council of Cordaid, serving the most vulnerable people in the most fragile places in the world. Originally from Ireland, he has served as a board member to both public and private equity-backed companies throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. He has extensive experience in leading and building teams.

Kevin J. Murray

CEO of Entoura, LLC.

Kevin J. Murray is the CEO of Entoura, LLC. Entoura is an industrial scale hemp processing and manufacturing business located in Tennessee and Kentucky. Entoura endeavors to use the whole plant for wide range of benefits for consumers and patients. Sustainability and innovation are the cornerstones of Entoura’s company values. From highly researched cannabinoids for health and wellness to innovation in hemp fiber and seed, Entoura has become a true leader in this exciting new industry.

Mr. Murray has a 30+ year finance career that includes leadership positions at BNY Mellon Investment Management, G2 Investment Group / Forbes Private Capital Group, Muirfield Capital Management, Convergence Asset Management, and Cantor Fitzgerald.

In 1997, Mr. Murray, his wife, Susan, and other parents formed the Autism Coalition for Research and Education, which became Autism Speaks in June 2005. The Murrays have three boys, including Owen, who is on the autism spectrum.

Jacquelyn "Jakki" Nance

President, Philanthropic Solutions, Ltd.

Jacquelyn "Jakki" Nance is an attorney and president of Philanthropic Solutions, Ltd., where she advises nonprofits on strategic planning, resource and board development, and event planning. She also works with executives and athletes to help them achieve their philanthropic objectives.

Previously, Ms. Nance served as chief operating officer for Swin Cash Enterprises and the charity Cash for Kids, both founded by Swin Cash, the two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time WNBA champion.

Ms. Nance also served for three years as the executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation. During that time, she oversaw its bikeathon, developed a partnership with Nickelodeon, worked with corporate partners and built playgrounds around the country.

Her clients have included the WNBA; the cancer charity Flashes of Hope, and State Farm Insurance, where she worked with the 50 Million Pound Challenge's grassroots initiative to establish simultaneous health walks around the country. She also was featured in an "Ebony" magazine profile, "Women in the NFL." 

An Ohio native, Ms. Nance was a senior planned giving attorney with The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, where she also served as the event coordinator for Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton's annual fundraising ice show and gala. She has been honored by The Arthritis Foundation's Northeast Ohio Chapter and Cleveland Public Theater.

Ms. Nance has more than 20 years of nonprofit board service for organizations including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Ohio Arts Council and the Thomas Moyer Ohio Judicial Commission. Causes she has championed include children's health, education, diversity and inclusion, and planning for the special needs of adults with disabilities.

She graduated from Spelman College and Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Ms. Nance and her husband, Fred Nance, have two teenagers with autism.

Bill O’Connor

CEO of O’Connor Capital Partners

Bill O’Connor serves as CEO of O’Connor Capital Partners, a leading real estate investment and development firm headquartered in New York City with offices in Mexico City and Palm Beach. O’Connor Capital Partners invests in a wide range of properties and developments across North America. Mr. O’Connor has been with the company since 2003 and has served in his current role since 2010.

Prior to O’Connor Capital Partners, Mr. O’Connor led investments for The Peabody Funds, a London-based joint venture of JP Morgan and O’Connor Capital Partners, for over ten years. He has also held roles at Retail Property Trust, the Argo Fund and Merrill Lynch.

Over the years, Mr. O’Connor has committed himself to several philanthropic endeavors including Catholic Relief Services. In 2012, Bill traveled to Haiti with Catholic Relief Services and Partners in Health to oversee the installation of clean water filtration systems. Access to clean water is an initiative the O’Connor family has prioritized for many years, supporting efforts in several African villages as well. The family are also generous supporters of the Adaptive Sports Foundation in Windham, New York which provides children and adults with varying physical and cognitive disabilities the opportunity to participate in outdoor sports activities.

Mr. O’Connor and his wife Eileen have four children, one girl and three boys. Erin, their oldest, has an autism spectrum disorder.

Jamie T. Richardson

Vice Chairman, Autism Speaks
Vice President, White Castle System, Inc.

Jamie Richardson joined the White Castle home office team in 1998. He serves as vice president of White Castle System, Inc., with responsibilities for government affairs, shareholder relations, public relations and corporate philanthropy.

In recent years, Mr. Richardson has led White Castle’s involvement in entertainment projects including “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” “Undercover Boss,” and “Impractical Jokers.”

Mr. Richardson is frequently quoted in major print and broadcast media on restaurant industry perspectives on current events and policy issues.

He serves on the board of Family Enterprise USA, the National Council of Chain Restaurants and the Ohio Restaurant Association, where he is chairman of the board.  In 2014, Mr. Richardson was named the National Restaurant Association’s Advocate of the Year, and in 2016, the National Council of Chain Restaurants’ Ambassador of the Year.

In addition to serving on the Autism Speaks board, Mr. Richardson is active in his community, serving on several charity boards. He is vice chairman of the YMCA of Central Ohio Board, and serves on the American Red Cross National Philanthropy Board.

Mr. Richardson has demonstrated a powerful passion and commitment to Autism Speaks over the past several years, spearheading White Castle efforts that have raised more than $4 million.

He has testified before the Ohio State House of Representatives and worked with Autism Speaks board member Laura Slatkin to create the Original Slider White Castle hamburger-scented candle – an effort that has raised awareness and more than $350,000 for Autism Speaks.

As a fourth generation “family member-in-law,” Mr. Richardson invests his time and passion in the White Castle vision of remaining a family-owned business for generations to come.

Mr. Richardson and his wife Kate have five children, Brendan, Chloe, Mary, Grace, Maggie and Finn.  

Stuart Savitz

Founder, Law Offices of Stuart M. Savitz, LLC
Operating Board, CP Acquisition LLC

Stuart Savitz graduated from Michigan State University (James Madison College) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1982 and received his Juris Doctor degree from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis in 1985.

In 2001, Mr. Savitz founded the Law Offices of Stuart M. Savitz LLC, specializing in mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance transactions and general corporate services. In 2004, Mr. Savitz was the lead investor in CP Acquisition LLC, which acquired the Coco Pazzo and Coco Pazzo Café restaurants in Chicago.

Mr. Savitz and his wife Amy live in Glencoe, Illinois, with their two sons, Tyler, who has autism, and Spencer.

In 2007, Spencer founded Team Tyler to participate in the Chicago Walk Now for Autism Speaks. In nine years, Team Tyler has raised over $1 million. In 2011, Spencer and the Savitz Family founded the North Shore Walk.

The Savitz family began funding autism research through Cure Autism Now in 2005 and have continued their funding through Autism Speaks. Mr. Savitz has also served on the Autism Speaks Family Services and Science Committees.

Mr. Savitz also served on the Foundation Board for Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago from 2004 to 2009.

Robert C. Schwenkel

Corporate Counsel

Robert Schwenkel is the former global head of Fried Frank's M&A and private equity practices. He joined the Firm in 1982 and became a partner in 1989.

Mr. Schwenkel has a diverse transactional corporate practice concentrating in private equity transactions and mergers and acquisitions. Representative clients include Goldman, Sachs & Co.; Permira Advisers LLP; KKR; Appaloosa Management LP; and Citadel Investment Group. He frequently represents private equity sponsors in "club" transactions and portfolio companies of private equity investors.

He is a frequent speaker on private equity and deal making trends at leading industry conferences and continuing education programs and is an adjunct professor at Hofstra University School of Law, where he teaches a course on private equity fund formation and transactional issues.
Mr. Schwenkel has been recognized by Chambers Global: The World's Leading Lawyers for Business and Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business as a leading individual in Private Equity: Buyouts, as well as Legal 500 in Private Equity Buyouts (Elite Lawyer) and M&A: Mega-Deals and M&A: Large-Deals (Elite Lawyer).

He is the grandfather of an autistic child.

Jennifer Seidel

Digital Partnerships at Mastercard

Jennifer Seidel has spent more than 20 years in advertising industry leadership roles spanning from Executive Vice President of the American Association of Advertising agencies to tenures as Senior Vice President and Vice President at global advertising networks including WPP, BBDO and AKQA.

As Chief Value Architect for WPP’s Enfatico, Ms. Seidel directed global strategy and integrated marketing campaign creation for Dell’s consumer division across Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America. At BBDO, Ms. Seidel led brand initiatives and business development efforts for AOL, Motorola, Bank of America and Monster.

Ms. Seidel left the workforce for five years following her daughter’s autism diagnosis to focus on therapy and educational programming. During that time Ms. Seidel was deeply involved in local philanthropies including serving on the board of the American Red Cross Metro New York North chapter and the Parent’s Association board of The Greenwich Country Day School. 

Recently, Jennifer joined the Digital Partnerships team at Mastercard where she leads account management and business development initiatives for digitally native brands like Lyft, Wayfair, goPuff and HelloFresh.

Ms. Seidel and her husband Martin have three children.

Stephen Shore, Ed.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor, Ammon School of Education, Adelphi University

Dr. Stephen Shore is a clinical assistant professor at the Ammon School of Education at Adelphi University, teaching courses in special education and autism. He focuses his work on matching well thought out educational practices to individual needs that promote fulfilling and productive lives for those with autism.

It is because of his personal experiences when he was nonverbal and his parents refused to institutionalize him that Dr. Shore has become an advocate of intensive early intervention matched to the needs of the individual with autism. He speaks and consults throughout the world on educational and social inclusion, sensory processing challenges, bullying, as well as many other issues associated with successful transitioning into adulthood for those with autism.

Dr. Shore’s writings can regularly be seen in the media. He also shares his experiences in his autobiography, “Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome,” and in “Ask and Tell: Self-Advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum,” as well as the DVD “Living Along the Autism Spectrum: What It Means to Have Autism or Asperger Syndrome.” 

In addition to his work with Autism Speaks, Dr. Shore serves as president emeritus of the Asperger/Autism Network. He also is on the board of Specialisterne-USA, the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association, the United States Autism and Asperger Association, and he is the president of the Asperger Syndrome Support Network of the Russian Federation.

Dr. Shore received his Ed.D. in special education from the Boston University School of Education in 2008.  

Steven P. Stanbrook

Former Chief Operating Officer International, S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc.

Steven is the former Chief Operating Officer of S.C. Johnson and an Autism Speaks National Board Member. Steven joined S.C. Johnson from CompuServe, at the time the world's largest Internet company, where he was President of its International Division. Before CompuServe, Mr. Stanbrook spent 17 years at Sara Lee Corporation, most recently as President and Chief Executive Officer of Sara Lee Bakery.

Currently, Steven serves on the board of directors of Primo Water Corporation, a leading water solutions provider in North America, Europe, and Israel, Group One Automotive, a large owner and operator of automotive dealerships and collision centers in the United States and the UK (both NYSE listed companies) and Voyant Beauty, a PE sponsored, leading contract manufacturer of beauty and personal care brands, owned by Wind Point Partners, where he serves an Executive Advisory Partner at this Chicago-based private equity firm.

Previous board roles include Hewitt Associates and Chiquita Brands International, both NYSE listed businesses, and also at Imperial Brands, the U.K.’s 20th. largest enterprise.

Mr. Stanbrook and his wife Judy have five children.

Cheryl Vitali

Worldwide General Manager, Kiehl’s Since 1851

Appointed in 2010, Cheryl Vitali oversees Kiehl’s worldwide strategy, new market development, product innovation and retail marketing plans from the global home office in New York City. Under Ms. Vitali’s leadership worldwide, Kiehl’s doubled in size in a two-year time frame.

Ms. Vitali joined L’Oreal USA in 2003 as senior vice president of marketing for Maybelline New York-Garnier. In her role with the $1 billion cosmetic and hair care division, she achieved 19 percent growth in a zero-growth marketplace and helped to launch the Garnier brand in the United States. Within L’Oreal, Ms. Vitali went on to head marketing for Lancôme, stabilizing the third-ranked luxury brand in 2009 and ultimately returning the brand to market share growth in the U.S. via new category product launches in skincare and makeup.

Prior to joining the L’Oreal family, Ms. Vitali held various positions of increasing responsibility at Revlon and Procter & Gamble. She began her career in advertising, but soon realized that she wanted to be the client.

"I have always been drawn to marketing strategy, managing the complexity of brand 'personalities' in business, and making great products for consumers," Ms. Vitali says.

She is keenly focused not only on business but also helping women build their careers while managing work / life balance. In 2008, she was awarded the prestigious Cosmetic Executive Women Achievers Award, honoring women in the beauty industry who have broken through barriers to success and inspire young executives to do the same.

Ms. Vitali and her husband James Shapiro have two sons, the younger of whom has autism. In addition to Autism Speaks, her philanthropic efforts include the Giants Steps School, American Institute for Neuro-Integrative Development.

Director Emeritus

Bob Wright

Autism Speaks Chairman 2005 - 2018

Mel Karmazin

Autism Speaks Board member 2005 - 2018

Brian Kelly

Autism Speaks Board member 2015 - 2020

Phil Geier*

Autism Speaks Board member 2007 - 2017


Bob and Suzanne Wright