Autism Speaks Elects Brian L. Harper as Chairman of the Board

March 31, 2020

NEW YORK – Autism Speaks, an organization that is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of people with autism and their families, announces the election of board member Brian L. Harper as chairman of the board of directors, effective April 1, 2020. In this role, Mr. Harper replaces Brian Kelly as Chairman of the Board.

“It has been an honor to serve as chairman of the Autism Speaks board of directors, and I'm thrilled to pass the torch to Brian Harper,” said Mr. Kelly. “As a member of the board, Brian has been a force in creating a better world for people on the spectrum and those who love and support them. He has been a champion of our work to provide research, advocacy, services and support for the autism community, and I look forward to seeing him lead Autism Speaks toward the vision to help all people with autism reach their full potential.”

Mr. Harper is president, chief executive officer and trustee of RPT Realty. Prior to joining RPT, Mr. Harper served in various executive leadership roles within the retail real estate industry, most recently as the chief executive officer of Rouse Properties. In addition to being on the board of Autism Speaks since 2017, Mr. Harper is active in many professional and charitable organizations.

Inspired by his son who has autism, Mr. Harper has become increasingly committed to seeing that each person with autism spectrum disorder has the same opportunities.

“Having a son with autism, Autism Speaks has become part of the fabric of our family and we are forever grateful and committed to continuing this journey to provide the best resources to our community. During these unprecedented times, it is essential that we stand together and support one another like never before,” said Mr. Harper. “Inspired by those who have preceded me, it is a privilege and my greatest honor to take on this role within this exceptional organization and continue to be an advocate and support the cause.”

Mr. Kelly has been a major donor and a member of the board of directors of Autism Speaks since 2005. In May 2015 he became chairman of the board. Mr. Kelly leaves behind a legacy of progress and advancement for the autism community. He 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%.

To learn more about Autism Speaks, visit or join the conversation with @autismspeaks on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. For personalized support and questions, contact the Autism Response Team at 1-888-AUTISM2, en Español at 1-888-772-9050 or by email at

About Autism 

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges. A combination of genetic and environmental factors influences the development of autism, and autism often is accompanied by medical issues such as GI disorders, seizures and sleep disturbances. Autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children. 

About Autism Speaks 

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. To find resources, join an event or make a donation, go to Learn more by following @autismspeaks on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.