This year’s Honorees Suzanne and Bob Wright Co-founders, Autism Speaks
Suzanne and Bob Wright are Co-founders of Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. Inspired by the challenges facing their grandson who suffers from autism, they launched the foundation in February 2005.
Since its inception, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, raising over $398 million committing over $180 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its “Light It Up Blue” initiative. Also, Autism Speaks’ award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council has received over $338 million in donated media. Autism Speaks’ family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit, a Grandparent School Kit, and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government’s response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments in 32 states thus far. Each year, Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 95 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.
Bob Wright served as Vice Chairman and Executive Officer, of the General Electric Company and also Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NBC Universal. Bob joined NBC as President and Chief Executive Officer on September 1, 1986, and served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NBC Universal until May 1, 2007. Bob had one of the longest and most successful tenures of any media company chief executive, with more than two decades at the helm of one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies. He has a strong history of philanthropy and community service, for which he has received numerous awards and accolades. He serves on the boards of Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, Mission Product, LLC, AMC Networks Inc., and is a Trustee of the New York Presbyterian hospital. He is also Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association and Senior Advisor of THL Capital. Bob Wright is also the former member of the Executive Committee of Rand Corporation and a former Board of Director of EMI Group Global Ltd. He is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross and of the Law School of University of Virginia.
In 2008, Suzanne and Bob were named in Time 100’s Heroes and Pioneers category for their commitment to global autism advocacy. They have also received the first ever Double Helix Award for Corporate Leadership from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the NYU Child Advocacy Award, the Castle Connolly National Health Leadership Award, the American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award, the Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy 2011 Leadership Award, the Eugene M. Lang, Lifetime Achievement Award from the I Have A Dream Foundation and Moffly Media’s Light a Fire Lifetime Achievement Award. In the past few of years the Wrights have received honorary doctorate degrees from St. John’s University, St. Joseph’s University, Fairfield University and UMass Medical School– they delivered respective commencement addresses at the first three of these schools. The Wrights are the first married couple to be bestowed such an honor in St. John’s history.
The Wrights have three children and six grandchildren.