Archived | Autism Speaks Leadership 2007 | #NotAnAutisticAlly


Mark Roithmayr – President

Peter H. Bell – Executive V.P. – Programs and Services

Sophia Colamarino – Vice President of Research
Elizabeth Emken– Vice President of Government Affairs
Lisa Goring – Director of Family Services
Clara Lajonchere – Vice President of Clinical Programs
Andy Shih – Vice President of Scientific Affairs

Tom Hetzel – CFO/Controller

Alison Tepper Singer – Executive V.P., Communications and Awareness

Kevin Berk – Director of Interactive Services
Dana Marnane – National Director of Communications and Marketing 
Bill Shea– National Director of Creative Services

Glenn R. Tringali – Executive V.P. – Fundraising and Operations

Jennifer Bizub –National Director of Human Resources
Richard Brown – National Director of Leadership Giving
Lisa Gallipoli – National Director of Field Operations 
Susan Gloor – National Walk Director 
Sam Levitt – Director of Special Events
Tracey MacDonald – National Director of Community Development
Jennifer Waltzer – Chief Administrative Officer

Mark Roithmayr, President

Mark Roithmayer is wearing a dark suit, white shirt, red tie and a blue puzzle piece pin on the lapel. He is smiling, has short slicked hair and is standing in front of an Autism Speaks background. Quote: We’ll rely on the strength o volunteers and committed supporters to change history. Mark Roithmayer is not an Autistic ally.

In July 2005 Mark Roithmayr became Autism Speaks’ first full time President.

In a 20 month period he helped merge three organizations; ACRE, NAAR and Cure Autism Now into Autism Speaks.

Today Autism Speaks is the largest autism related non-profit healthcare agency in the U.S., raising some 55 million dollars to fund programs of research, awareness, advocacy and family service.

Prior to Autism Speaks, Mark worked for 20 years at the March of Dimes Birth Defect Foundation where he last served as Sr. Vice President for Revenue Development helping that foundation raise over 220 million dollars.

Mark resides in White Plains, NY with his wife Christine and their two children Alex and Emma.

Peter Bell is posing with a guest at an Autism Speaks event in front of a display board that includes Autism Speaks logo and puzzle piece. Peter Bell is wearing a dark pin-stripe suit with blue tied and white shirt. Quote: Our children deserve a better quality of life. We won’t stop until we find the cure.

Peter H. Bell, Executive V.P. 

Programs and Services

Peter Bell is executive vice president for programs and services at Autism Speaks. He oversees the foundation’s research, government affairs and family services activities.

Prior to his role at Autism Speaks, Bell was president and CEO of Cure Autism Now, which merged with Autism Speaks in February 2007. 

Peter joined Cure Autism Now in 2004 following a successful 12-year marketing career at McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, a member of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies.

As president and CEO, Peter led Cure Autism Now through a tremendous growth period and brought the foundation’s funding total to more than $39 million. In addition, Peter enhanced the foundation’s research, education and outreach initiatives and expanded the foundation’s treatment portfolio.

Prior to joining the Cure Autism Now staff, Peter was a founding member of the Philadelphia chapter and served on the board of directors. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Cornell University and holds an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.

Peter and his wife, Liz, reside in Los Angeles, Calif. with their three children. Their eldest son, Tyler, has autism.

Alison Singer has blonde hair, is wearing a dark blue dress and is standing on the stairs, leaning against the bannister with a hand on her hip. Quote: As a mother of a child with autism, I know this is a time for hope.

Alison Tepper Singer, Executive V.P.

Communications and Awareness

Alison Tepper Singer is executive vice president for communications and awareness at Autism Speaks.

Alison has been with the foundation since its launch in March 2005 and is a member of the board of directors, in addition to overseeing the strategic communications and development of the growing organization. She served as interim CEO of the organization from March through July 2005.

Prior to joining Autism Speaks, Alison spent 14 years at CNBC and NBC in a variety of positions, including vice president of programming in NBC’s cable and business development division, producer of CNBC’s MoneyWheel and MarketWrap programs, and, most recently, special projects producer at CNBC, where she produced the award-winning series, “Autism: Paying the Price.”

She has a B.A. in economics from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Alison has both a daughter and an older brother with autism, giving her long-term, personal experience with the disorder. She lives in Scarsdale, NY, with her husband, Dan, a partner in the media practice at McKinsey & Company. They have two daughters, Jodie and Lauren. 

Glenn Tringali is standing at an event wearing a dark blue or black suit, white shirt, blue tie and Autism Speaks puzzle piece pin on his lapel. Quote: Increasing funds for autism research is a responsibility we must all take very seriously.

Glenn R. Tringali, Executive V.P. 

Fundraising and Operations

Since his professional career in the not-for-profit community began in 1975, Glenn has had the privilege of serving in senior administrative and fund development positions with some of our country’s most prominent national health agencies, including the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. 

He joined the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) in May 2001 as Chief Operating Officer and played a key role in guiding the development of the organization by working in partnership with the board of trustees, senior staff, and other key volunteers to oversee and manage the growth of NAAR’s initiatives and to advance the mission of treating, preventing and curing autism spectrum disorders through biomedical research. 

Glenn was named NAAR’s first chief executive in June 2003 and under his leadership, NAAR more than tripled its revenues and research program investments.

During his tenure, the organization’s presence expanded domestically and globally from its Princeton, N.J., headquarters, to twelve additional field offices in the United States and international affiliate offices in Canada and the United Kingdom. 

Tom Hetzel, CFO/Controller

Tom is the chief financial officer for Autism Speaks, coming to the organization through its affiliation with the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR).

Tom joined NAAR in the fall of 2004 as CFO, playing a key role in implementing strategic planning, budgeting and management reporting systems and practices to support NAAR’s three-fold growth in recent years. 

Prior to joining NAAR, Tom had an extensive 26-year career at Dow Jones & Company holding a variety of positions, including Vice President of Finance and Vice President/Circulation – The Wall Street Journal.

Tom has a B.S. in accounting from the University of Scranton and an MBA from Rider University. 

Sophia Calamarino is seen standing in a black outfit with a gold necklace and has red curly hair and brown eyes. Quote: Progress in our understanding of the underlying biology of autism is occurring on a daily basis.

Sophia Colamarino, Vice President of Research

After sixteen years of laboratory research experience, Sophia joined Cure Autism Now in November 2004 as Science Director to oversee the science program in association with the CAN Scientific Review Council.

Sophia graduated with dual degrees in Biological Sciences and Psychology from Stanford University. She received her Ph.D. in Neurosciences from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she studied brain development with distinguished neuroscientist Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Ph.D. 

After receiving her Ph.D., Sophia conducted research on the genetic disorder Kallmann Syndrome at the Telethon Institute for Genetics and Medicine in Milan, Italy, led by human geneticist Andrea Ballabio, M.D. She then returned to the US to work at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA, studying adult neural stem cells and brain regeneration in the laboratory of well-known stem cell pioneer Fred H. Gage, Ph.D. Sophia’s extensive research career has included publications in such prestigious journals as Cell, Nature and Nature Medicine.

During her tenure at CAN, Sophia oversaw a large growth in the science program and developed several important initiatives including the Neuropathology Workgroup, a collaborative effort to understand the cellular and molecular basis of brain enlargement, the first Environmental Innovator Award, and research summit meetings on Immunology and Neuroimaging. She has also become well-known for her ability to communicate science to lay audiences. Sophia grew up in San Francisco and currently resides in Los Angeles. 

Elizabeth Emken is wearing a red suit and standing in front of the US flag and a crowd of people. She has dark medium length hair and waving her hand and smiling. Quote: The federal government must make the distinction that autism is a national emergency.

Elizabeth Emken, Vice President of Government Relations

Elizabeth Emken is vice president, government relations at Autism Speaks. Elizabeth joined Autism Speaks in March 2007, and will be managing the relationship between Autism Speaks and the federal government. Prior to joining Autism Speaks, Elizabeth was a legislative consultant and board member to Cure Autism Now since 1998. She initially coordinated grassroots advocacy for the first major piece of federal autism legislation, the Advancement in Pediatric Autism Research Act, ultimately becoming the lead title of the Children’s Health Act of 2000, which authorized programs at the NIH, CDC, and HRSA totaling more that 200 million over 5 years. 

Most recently, Elizabeth led autism community advocacy for the Combating Autism Act of 2006 on behalf of Cure Autism Now, Autism Speaks, and 17 other leading autism organizations. The Combating Autism Act of 2006 passed in December, 2006, and authorizes nearly 1 billion dollars over the next 5 years to combat autism through research, screening, early detection and early intervention. Current legislative priorities include initiatives relative to services and treatment, tax benefits, and insurance coverage.

Elizabeth graduated from UCLA in 1984, with a degree in Economics and Political Science. Prior to her involvement with Cure Autism Now, Elizabeth’s focus was field management and corporate operations at IBM Corporation. She lives in California with her husband Craig Swartz, a Strategist at Microsoft Corporation. They have two daughters, and a 14 year old son, Alex, who has autism spectrum disorder. 

Clara Lajonchere has gray hair and is wearing dark-rim glasses, small hoop earrings and a black turtle neck with a multicolor scarf. Quote: Clinical programs serve as the foundation for translational research which facilitates effective discoveries and treatments for our children.

Clara Lajonchere, Vice President of Clinical Programs

Clara joined Cure Autism Now in June 2003 as AGRE Program Director. Under Clara’s leadership, AGRE has reached several landmarks including the acquisition of over 1600 family pedigrees and facilitating research in 15 countries. In September, 2006, Clara was promoted to Director of Clinical Research with responsibility for managing CAN’s ATN and CTN programs. She has worked in the field of psychiatric genetics for the last 15 years and has a broad background in basic science and applied clinical research with both child and adult populations.

Over the last two years, Clara has worked closely with program staff at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop bioinformatics tools for the autism field and currently serves as a national advisor for NIH’s National Database for Autism Research (NDAR). Clara also has dual appointments at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering where she is Research Assistant Professor and USC’s Keck School of Medicine where she is Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics. 

Clara attended Tufts University in Boston where she received a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in the History of Medicine. She received her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis with concentrations in neuroscience and psychopathology. Clara was introduced to genetic research in 1989 when she worked on the Biological Program Project for Schizophrenia at McLean Hospital/Harvard University. Clara is a resident of Long Beach, California. 

Andy Shih, Vice President of Scientific Affairs

Andy Shih, Ph.D., works closely with members of Autism Speaks’ Board, Scientific Advisory Committee, senior staff and volunteer leadership to develop and implement the organization’s research program. He also oversees the administration of the organization’s grant-making process for research. Andy joined the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) in 2002. 

Prior to joining NAAR, Andy had served as an industry consultant and was a member of the faculty at Yeshiva University and New York University Medical Center. He earned his Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology from New York University Medical Center. 

Andy’s 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 holds three patents on nucleic acids-based diagnostics and therapeutics. Andy is a resident of Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and daughter. 

Jennifer Waltzer, Chief Administrative OfficerJennifer is the Chief Administrative Officer for Autism Speaks, responsible for IT, Database Administration, Donations Data Entry, and facilities leases. Her department provides the infrastructure necessary for the rest of the organization to function efficiently and effectively. Jennifer joined Autism Speaks through the merger with Cure Autism Now (CAN), where she served as the Chief Financial Officer since April 2005.

Prior to joining CAN Jennifer had accumulated 25 years of diverse business experience, including public accounting with a ?Big 4? firm, commercial banking, sales and marketing, and finance and administration with an internet startup. Jennifer is a CPA, has a BA in Accounting from Whittier College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Jennifer lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, Ken, the president of Kenfield Capital Strategies. 

Richard Brown 
National Director of Leadership Giving
As the national director of leadership giving, Richard Brown is responsible for expanding Autism Speaks’ major gifts program. He works closely with volunteer leadership to solicit gifts from individuals and to recruit new volunteer leaders for Autism Speaks. Additionally, Rich is building a national staff structure to extend the major gifts program across the country. 

Rich is a 20-year veteran of the not-for-profit world. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s New York City Chapter, where he was responsible for a $10 million annual budget. Prior to his tenure at JDRF, he was the Vice President of Institutional Advancement for SUNY College at Old Westbury. Rich spent nine years with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, serving in several capacities, including Area Director, where he managed field operations in the eastern half of the U.S. 

Rich is an adjunct faculty member at New York University’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising. He formerly served as board member of the New York City and Long Island Chapter’s of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He is a past Vice-Chairman of Fundraising Day in New York, the largest one-day fundraising conference in the country. He is also past president of the National Voluntary Health Agencies of New York. 

Lisa Gallipoli 
National Director of Field Operations
Lisa Gallipoli started as NAAR’s National Walk Director in September 2001. Under her tenure the Walk for Autism Research grew from $3 million in annual revenue to over $11 million in 2006. Currently, over fifty annual events take place across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. 

As the National Director of Field Operations, Lisa will be focusing on the development of the chapter and walk structure for the organization. Part of Autism Speaks’ strategic plan is to be in every state with fundraising, awareness, advocacy and outreach. The Walks serve as the base for developing the grassroots support of the organization. The development of a fully realized chapter structure will position the organization with year-round programs and infrastructure. 

Lisa started her career with Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey and the American Diabetes Association. Lisa worked as Regional Vice President in northern New Jersey for the American Heart Association for five years. Lisa graduated from Smith College and received a Masters in Public Administration from Seton Hall University in 2001. 

Susan Gloor, National Walk Director

Susan Gloor started as NAAR’s Tri-State Senior Regional Director in August 2004. In that role, she oversaw seven walks in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that raised more than $4 million this year. 

As the national walk director, Susan will focus on working with the field staff to ensure they are appropriately trained and that best practices are consistently applied. She is a 20-year veteran of the not-for-profit world. Prior to joining Autism Speaks, Gloor was the executive director of Jersey Cares and was with the American Heart Association. She began her tenure in the non-profit field spending ten years in higher education. Susan lives in northern New Jersey with her husband Greg and their daughters Kelly and Erin.

Dana Marnane
National Director of Communications and Marketing
Dana Marnane is the director of communications and marketing and oversees all aspects of Autism Speaks’ communication strategy. She joined the organization in October 2006. She has spent the last ten years with national retailer Lord & Taylor in its public relations and special events department. She created and managed the company’s charity events, partnering with hundreds of non-profits throughout the country. 

Prior to entering retail, Dana served as the Communications Director for U.S. Sailing, the national governing body for the sport of sailing. She is a member of the Executive Committee for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s Westchester/Fairfield Chapter and resides in Westchester County New York. 

Tracey MacDonald
National Director of Community Development
Tracey MacDonald is the National Director of Community Development at Autism Speaks. She joined the organization as a result of the merger with Cure Autism Now where she was the Director of Chapter Development. In her new role, Tracey will continue to focus on the development of local volunteer programs, staff training and Autism Speaks chapters nationwide.

Prior to joining the CAN staff, Tracey was the founding Chapter President of the Los Angeles chapter and the first Walk Now Chair. In addition to her personal and professional involvement with Cure Autism Now, she has a long history of volunteer involvement with Girl Scouts, Kidsave International and Business Volunteers for the Arts.

Tracey spent ten years in the for profit sector in various financial, marketing, and management positions within the Chevron Corporation. Tracey graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and earned her Masters in Business Administration from St. Mary?s College. Tracey and her husband, John, live in Los Angeles, CA with their son Griffin who is affected by autism.

Bill Shea 
National Director of Creative Services
Bill Shea has served as a consultant to Autism Speaks since the organization’s inception. In November of 2006 he became a permanent member of the team. As a creative consultant, he played a pivotal role in developing Autism Speaks’ multi-year campaign with the Ad Council. In his new role, he will expand the organization’s partnership with the Ad Council and will oversee the development of walk-related and other branded marketing materials. 

Bill is a 20-year veteran of the advertising community. He spent the last 15 years with McCann Erickson, a leading global advertising agency. Most recently, he was the Group Creative Director responsible for such major advertising campaigns as Major League Baseball’s “I Live For This” and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter’s “Fabio” campaign. 

Kevin Berk
Director of Interactive Services
Kevin became Director of Interactive Services for Autism Speaks when the organization merged with Cure Autism Now and now leads a talented and diverse team of web professionals. His goal it is to improve and expand the functionality of the Autism Speaks family of sites, online fundraising tools and web communities. 

Prior to joining Cure Autism Now in 2004, Kevin spent seven years managing and directing web development for PROMAX&BDA, a global trade organization for electronic media professionals. With an eye toward branding, he designed and implemented a wealth of web sites for the organizations’ global events. He joined Cure Autism Now as Manager of Interactive Communications, where he produced and maintained a number of web sites, helped publish the bi-weekly Connections newsletter, and designed logos, ads and e-mails for the organization’s programs.

Kevin resides in San Diego, CA with his wife Amy. 

Lisa Goring
Director of Family Services

Lisa joined Autism Speaks as the Staff Liaison for the Family Services Committee in June of 2006. In May of 2007 she was appointed Director of Family Services. 

Lisa’s focus is to provide direction and management of the Family Services program at Autism Speaks, and to serve as the guiding force behind the Family Services mission which is to: 1) empower families and individuals impacted by autism to make informed decisions that maximize the quality of life and development potential of affected individuals; 2) to promote research funding that yields evidence for the best practices in the treatment of autism and associated disorders; and 3) to serve as a catalyst and advocate for the implementation of best practices in autism treatment, education, and services from early intervention through adult care.

Prior work experience includes a 19 year career at Saks Fifth Avenue where she was Vice President, Divisional Merchandise Manager. In addition, she is a past president of her local School Community Association, has participated on many special education committees, is a frequent parent member of the committee on special education in her school district, has presented at several autism conferences, and has worked as a teaching assistant at Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism’s Martin C. Barell School. Lisa lives in Manhasset, New York with her husband Paul and two children, one of whom has autism.

Sam Levitt
Director of Special Events
Sam Levitt is director of special events and is responsible for coordinating many high-profile events across the country, including Athletes Against Autism, Ride Now, 5K, Triathlon and College Run initiatives. Prior to joining Autism Speaks, he served as Special Events Director for Cure Autism Now, before the organization merged with Autism Speaks in 2007. 

Sam graduated from the University of California, San Diego, and also holds his MBA in non-profit business management. He has spent time fundraising for senatorial and presidential campaigns across the country and has dedicated much of his efforts in support of the fight on the federal and local level for the needs of those in the developmentally disabled community. Sam is married, and lives in Los Angeles with his wife Alana.


Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid. 

ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.

The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t workIn study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work. 

What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.

The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth. 

The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome. 

This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.

Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.

Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.

Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.

[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]

Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.

Explore Autistic History


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