Bob Wright, Co-Founder of Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, will step down as Chairman of the Board of Directors on May 1st. Mr. Wright has served as Chairman since he and his wife, Suzanne, founded Autism Speaks in 2005 when their grandson was diagnosed with autism. Brian Kelly, an original member of the Autism Speaks Board of Directors and its Executive Committee, has been elected Autism Speaks Chairman of the Board. Mr. and Mrs. Wright will remain on the Board as Co-Founders.
“Ten years ago, we started Autism Speaks because we were shocked at the lack of research, awareness, and access to care for the fastest growing developmental condition in the world,” Mr. Wright said in making this announcement. "We set out to change that from the bottom up, by giving a voice to parents and families, and from the top down, by pressing the medical research community, policy makers, and corporate leaders for action. We have made progress, but there is still work to be done. Brian Kelly has been a big voice at the Autism Speaks table and, as the new Chairman, he is prepared to carry the torch forward on behalf of our families.”
Mr. Kelly, 53, served as Chair of the Audit and Family Services Committees until his election as Chairman of the Board. In 2005, he and his wife, Tricia, donated $2.35 million dollars to The Autism Research and Training Center at UC Santa Barbara's Gevirtz Graduate School of Education that provided enhanced facilities for what is widely recognized as one of the nation's leading centers for the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of autism. In 2006, Mr. Kelly was a leader in the property acquisition and development of the Melmark New England campus in Andover, Massachusetts, a school that services individuals with autism and other disabilities. In 2013, the Kellys established the Brian & Patricia Kelly Postsecondary Scholarship Fund at Autism Speaks to support vocational and educational opportunities for young adults on the spectrum.
Mr. Kelly is co-founder of Eastern Real Estate LLC, a leading commercial real estate investment, development, and asset management firm. Mr. Kelly was raised in New York and then Boston, where he met his wife. They now reside in Santa Barbara, California with their six children. Their eldest child, Patrick, has autism.