Angela Geiger, President and CEO
Angela Timashenka Geiger joined Autism Speaks as president and CEO in February 2016.
In her first year, she revised and relaunched the organization’s mission to explicitly include people with autism both across the spectrum and throughout the life span.
While huge progress has been made in increasing awareness of autism, the new mission goes a step farther and strives to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism. To support this inclusive and aspirational mission, Ms. Geiger launched a long-term strategic plan, which was well-received by donors, stakeholders and the autism community.
Beyond creating a strategic vision for the future, Ms. Geiger also led efforts to improve the financial position of Autism Speaks, producing positive net assets for three consecutive years. This was achieved while the number of individuals and families served by the organization grew by 70%.
Before joining Autism Speaks, Ms. 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, Ms. 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.
Ms. Geiger previously 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 with higher-education institutions.
Ms. Geiger earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Writing and Communications and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and has contributed to various conferences and publications.
She is based in New York City.
Thomas Frazier II, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer
Thomas Frazier, Ph.D., joined Autism Speaks in April 2017 as chief science officer. He is responsible for the science portfolio, including grantmaking, the MSSNG genomic research project and the Autism Treatment Network.
As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Frazier has been involved for 11 years in evaluation, treatment and research focused on individuals with autism. Prior to joining Autism Speaks, he was the director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.
Over the past decade, Dr. Frazier has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and done numerous conference presentations. His research has focused on improving autism identification; developing and studying new treatment approaches; creating and refining measures for tracking autism symptoms and quality of life in individuals and families affected by autism; and translational studies of a genetic sub-group of individuals with autism and phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) mutations.
Lisa Goring, Chief Strategic Initiatives and Innovation Officer
Lisa Goring joined Autism Speaks in 2006 and has provided direction and management of the Family Services department since its inception.
Under her leadership, Autism Speaks has offered resources and support to millions of individuals and families nationwide. These vital materials include a Resource Guide to help people with autism and their families find service providers nationwide, a specially-trained Autism Response Team that answers phone calls and emails, and a wide variety of Autism Speaks tool kits, including the 100 Day Tool Kit for Newly Diagnosed Families, the Transition Tool Kit and more than twenty other tool kits covering challenges at every stage of life.
In addition, Ms. Goring has implemented many Autism Speaks 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 served as treasurer.
In 2016, Ms. Goring added marketing and communications to her responsibilities at Autism Speaks, with the goal of increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism. She leads the marketing and communications teams to develop and execute a comprehensive strategy that supports the organization’s mission.
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 Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing from Boston University.
Lynn Happel, Senior Vice President, Information Technology & Data Support
Lynn Happel joined Autism Speaks in September 2014, holding successive roles in Finance and Data Services. In her previous position as vice president of Finance, she was instrumental in building a best-in-class finance team and supported the organization’s financial reporting and donation processing systems.
She has extensive experience in system implementation, data migration and related improvements.
Prior to joining Autism Speaks, Ms. Happel was the director of financial operations at Wenner Media LLC, where she managed the accounting, finance and technology teams for nearly 10 years. She was responsible for all financial reporting and related management reports, preparing bank and investor compliance reporting, contract review and negotiation, and development of operating and capital budgets. She put in place powerful financial systems and interfaces between various ad serving and billing systems.
Prior to that, she was a divisional controller at Springer Science and Business Media, where she worked for 13 years and began her career in finance and technology.
Ms. Happel holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts and a Master of Business Administration in finance from Montclair State University.
Ms. Happel is based in Princeton, N.J. She and her husband have one son.
Andy Shih, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Public Health and Inclusion
Andy Shih, Ph.D., joined Autism Speaks in 2006, after its merger with the National Alliance for Autism Research, where he served as chief science officer.
In 2007, as vice president of scientific affairs overseeing the etiology and clinical research portfolios, Mr. Shih led the development of several large international research consortia that delivered high impact scientific outcomes for the community. They include research on autism risk genes by the Autism Genome Project; a revised recurrence rate of 19 percent for siblings of affected children by the Baby Siblings Research Consortium; novel parent-mediated interventions by the Toddler Treatment Network; parental age as a risk factor by iCARE; and the first prevalence estimates in South Korea and other countries.
After the 2008 passage of the World Autism Awareness Day resolution at the United Nations, Dr. Shih 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, Dr. Shih and his team currently support ministries, government agencies and leading nongovernmental organizations in more than 70 countries to deliver better outcomes and quality of life for tens of millions of individuals and families.
With emphasis on human rights, science-driven advocacy and policy-making, and the development and implementation of innovative tools and programs, the team aims to help address knowledge and health disparities that slow progress for the majority of individuals and families affected by autism and developmental disabilities worldwide, including underserved communities in the U.S. and other high-income countries.
Dr. Shih holds a Ph.D. 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 he holds three patents on nucleic acids-based diagnostics and therapeutics.
Dr. Shih is based in New York City.
Stuart Spielman, Esq., Senior Vice President, Advocacy
Stuart Spielman joined Autism Speaks in 2008 as senior policy advisor and counsel after a long legal career and years of advocacy as a volunteer. He assumed the role of senior vice president of advocacy in July of 2018.
Over the past two decades, he has led or contributed to important initiatives including:
- Maryland’s Home and Community-Based Services Waiver for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, the nation’s first Medicaid waiver for children with autism.
- Improved health insurance benefits for autism through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
- The Stephen Beck, Jr., Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014 (ABLE), which allows people with disabilities to save money in special investment accounts without losing government benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support Act of 2014 (Autism CARES) and earlier laws that authorize autism research, surveillance and training. Funding under these federal laws has exceeded $3 billion in total.
Mr. Spielman holds a juris doctor from the University of Wisconsin School of Law and a master’s degree in laws in taxation from the New York University School of Law.
He and his wife Mona have two adult sons, one of whom is on the autism spectrum.