Keith Wargo, President and CEO
Keith Wargo joined Autism Speaks as president and CEO in October 2021. In this role, Mr. Wargo is responsible for the overall leadership, administration and management of the organization. This includes leading the strategic vision for the future and ensuring the organization is fulfilling its mission while measuring impact and results.
Mr. Wargo brings a unique and diverse background to Autism Speaks with nearly 30 years of business building experience at leading global financial institutions including Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, BMO Capital Markets and Mizuho Securities. Over the course of his long and successful tenure, he developed a proven track record of building effective teams, partnering with an array of stakeholders to tackle complex issues and helping to grow and scale multifaceted businesses across multiple industry sectors.
In the year before joining Autism Speaks, Mr. Wargo combined his business expertise and personal values when he became an owner of Monarch Cypress, an industry-leading amenity manufacturer and supplier with a mission to employ autistic individuals. Mr. Wargo and his wife, Anne, are parents of two adult children, one of whom has autism. They have personally witnessed the positive impact that Autism Speaks has on enhancing the lives of people with autism and their families through research, advocacy, supports and services. Mr. Wargo holds a Bachelor of Finance degree from Boston College and earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School.
Andy Shih, Ph.D., Interim Chief Science Officer
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. Dr. Shih has held various leadership roles in the organization throughout his tenure including senior vice president of public health and inclusion. In his current role of interim chief science officer, Mr. Shih is responsible for the science portfolio, including grantmaking, the MSSNG genomic research project and the Autism Care Network.
Since joining Autism Speaks, Dr. Shih has led important advancements toward the organization’s mission, including the development of several large international research consortia that delivered high impact scientific outcomes for the community. He was central to the 2008 passage of the World Autism Awareness Day resolution at the United Nations and subsequently 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.
Under Dr. Shih’s leadership, Autism Speaks supports 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 policymaking, and the development and implementation of innovative tools and programs, the team aims to help address knowledge and health disparities for 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. 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.
Lisa Goring, Chief Strategic Initiatives and Innovation Officer
Lisa Goring joined Autism Speaks in 2006, and has served in various leadership positions throughout her tenure. In her current role, she is responsible for the development, implementation and organizational coordination of all strategic priorities. She also oversees marketing, communications and digital, fueling Autism Speaks commitment to increasing global understanding and acceptance of people with autism and leading a comprehensive strategy to drive the organization’s mission forward.
Under Ms. Goring’s 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, a specially trained Autism Response Team that provides real-time, personalized support to individuals and families, and a wide variety of Autism Speaks tool kits, including the 100 Day Tool Kit for Newly Diagnosed Families, the Transition Tool Kit and dozens of additional tool kits to support autistic individuals and their families of all levels of need and 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. She was one of the founding members of Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism (AFAA) and served as treasurer.
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.
Ms. Goring holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a concentration in marketing from Boston University. She and her husband have two adult children, one of whom has autism.
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. She is responsible for ensuring operational excellence across information technology and data services to empower the Autism Speaks mission. 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.
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 2018 and leads Autism Speaks advocacy efforts.
Under Mr. Spielman’s leadership, Autism Speaks has played a pivotal role in ensuring more people with autism and their families can access the crucial services and supports they need. Over the past two decades, he has led or contributed to important initiatives and milestones including:
- The Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support Acts of 2014 and 2019 (Autism CARES) and earlier laws that authorize autism research, surveillance and training. Funding under these federal laws approaches $3.9 billion in total.
- 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).
Mr. Spielman and his team advocate at the grassroots, state and federal levels to ensure the needs of the autism community are represented in policy. These efforts have translated to meaningful support for millions of people on the spectrum.
Mr. Spielman holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Wisconsin School of Law and a Masters of Laws in Taxation from the New York University School of Law. Mr. Spielman is based in Washington, D.C. He and his wife Mona have two adult sons, one of whom is on the autism spectrum.
Joe Vanyo, Chief Operating Officer
Joe Vanyo joined Autism Speaks as Chief Operating Officer in February 2020.
Mr. Vanyo provides leadership across all support functions of the organization with an aim for workplace excellence and an outstanding level of integrity and compliance. Specifically, he leads strategy and high-level management of all financial activities, information technology, human resources, data base administration, donations processing, facility management, legal, risk and compliance.
Since joining the organization, he has delivered seamless financial and operational support which has ensured ongoing growth and sustainability, as well as furthered its mission and expanded impact.
Mr. Vanyo is an accomplished senior executive with twelve years of experience transforming mission driven non-profit organizations. Prior to joining Autism Speaks, Mr. Vanyo was the Chief Operating Officer at United Way of Metro Chicago. As the COO, Mr. Vanyo led his peers in the integration of a number of innovative, transformative initiatives, including; redirecting United Way’s community investments into cutting-edge place based strategies, negotiating and leading a number or regional consolidations, implementing a high-net worth donor strategy and launching a digital donor engagement program. As a valued member of the Senior Leadership Team, he designed and implemented United Way’s strategic plan in close collaboration with the CEO and Board of Directors.
Prior to United Way, Mr. Vanyo spend 15-years at National City Bank (now PNC) where he led a number of national operating units, participated in enterprise-wide integration projects, centralized operating units and served on bank acquisition teams.
Mr. Vanyo holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Operations Management from the University of Toledo.