Autism Speaks Elects Three Business Leaders to its National Board  | May 4, 2017 #AutisticHistory #StopBigAutism #BanABA


[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]

Autism Speaks Elects Three Business Leaders to its National Board

New members bring diverse experience in business, investment, philanthropy and enhancing the lives of children and adults with autism


Autism Speaks, which is dedicated to promoting solutions across the spectrum and throughout the life span, announces the election of three new members to its board of directors, effective immediately.

“We couldn’t be more grateful for the commitment and generosity of these accomplished leaders,” said Angela Geiger, Autism Speaks president and CEO. “Not only do they bring years of experience in business, investment and nonprofit leadership, each new member is motivated by a personal connection to the autism community.”

TOM BERNARD had a 30-year career in global finance before retiring in Aspen, Colo. 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 – a former Autism Speaks board member – 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. With the organization’s broadened mission came a new name: Ascendigo.

Mr. Bernard also purchased and remodeled a home in Carbondale, Colo., 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. With state-of-the-art safety and supervisory technology, the house is a model of supervised community living for adults who are more significantly impacted by autism.

“The needs in autism are tremendous and so much work needs to be done,” Mr. Bernard said. “I look forward to being part of an organization that can change the research, services, and public views of autism in large and meaningful ways.”

BRIAN L. HARPER is the chief executive officer of Rouse Properties, a New York-based real estate investment company. Its portfolio consists of 24 million square feet of shopping centers across 21 states. Mr. Harper was one of the original members of the team that was instrumental to the company’s formation and the initial public offering in 2012. He previously served as the company’s chief operating officer and executive vice president of leasing and acquisitions.

Before joining Rouse, Mr. Harper was the senior vice president of leasing for the real estate investing company GGP, where he oversaw the leasing efforts of a $2 billion multi-state portfolio. Prior to his tenure at GGP, he was a vice president at RED Development and an associate at Cohen-Esrey Real Estate Services, LLC.

Mr. Harper has been involved with all facets of real estate, from new development, asset repositions, distressed real estate and stabilized asset management. With more than 18 years of experience in the industry, he holds numerous awards and was selected for the 2014 list of Chain Store Age’s “10 Under 40” in real estate. He is also a frequent lecturer at several leading universities. 

Mr. Harper is on the board of directors for Liberty Church, and he was a co-founder of Breaking Ground Foundation, whose mission is to build sustainable community centers in developing nations. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas. Mr. Harper and his wife, Laleh, have two children.

“I have a child with autism, and I am fully aware that our world needs to have a better understanding of autism spectrum disorder,” said Mr. Harper. “I am deeply passionate about ensuring that all those with autism have the same opportunities available to them that those without this diagnosis have.”

As a board member, Mr. Harper will co-chair the “Autism Speaks to Wall Street Celebrity Chef Gala.” One of the organization’s signature fundraisers, the gala brings together dozens of top chefs, each cooking table-side to create an intimate dining experience for small groups of guests.

CHERYL VITALI is the worldwide general manager of Kiehl’s Since 1851, the New York-based purveyor of fine quality products for skin and hair care. Appointed in 2010, Ms. Vitali oversees worldwide strategy, new market development, product innovation and retail marketing plans. Ms. Vitali joined L’Oreal USA, the parent company of Kiehl’s, in 2003 as senior vice president of marketing for Maybelline New York-Garnier, helping to launch the Garnier brand in the United States. Within L’Oreal, Vitali went on to head marketing for Lancôme. Her prior experience includes positions at Revlon and Procter & Gamble.

She is keenly focused not only on business but also on 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 lives in Weston, Conn., with her husband James Shapiro and their two sons, the younger of whom has autism. 
“I am eager to help drive more global attention to autism issues,” Ms. Vitali said, “and specifically want to advocate for more programs and other essential resources to support individuals with autism and their families throughout their lives.” 

In addition to her longtime involvement with Autism Speaks, her charitable causes include the Giants Steps School, American Institute for Neuro-Integrative Development.

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, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, most caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences. An estimated 1 in 68 children is on the autism spectrum. 

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 autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. We empower people with autism and their families with resources, online tools and information covering the life span. To find resources, join a fundraising walk or make a donation, go to

More With Autism Speaks


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.

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