Prior to Autism Speaks, Liz from… See full bio.
Rio “Soulshocka" Wyles, a 21-year-old promising rapper who is on the autism spectrum, collaborated with the popular musical duo Timeflies and Adrienne Bailon from 3LW and the Cheetah Girls, for a recording session at the Converse Rubber Tracks studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Our friends at Converse graciously donated the studio time.
“We are excited to partner with Autism Speaks to provide a platform for creativity,” said Jim Calhoun, Converse Chief Executive Officer, whose family is affected by autism. “We proudly support an organization that advocates for the needs of individuals with autism and by opening the doors of Converse Rubber Tracks, we extend the creative spirit to budding musicians in that community.”
Timeflies, who were dubbed “musical masterminds” by Vanity Fair magazine, and Adrienne are dedicated supporters of our cause. They were on hand to offer guidance, words of encouragement, and an assortment of killer beats and live vocals to back Rio as he rapped to Timeflies’ hit song “Swoon.” Rio was in total command when he took the mic. He fully immersed himself in rapping, starting with a “Yaaaaaaaaay!” His voice was so passionate that it thrilled everyone in the studio. He caught the beat and rhymed verse after verse with Timeflies' vocalist, Cal, providing encouragment. When his mother asked whether he could do this, Rio answered with a confident smile – “Yes I can.” “It is the shared goals of Autism Speaks and Converse -- celebrating individuality and freedom of expression -- that makes this such a wonderful project,” said Liz Feld, President of Autism Speaks. “Our missions are so compatible because we both see people for who they are -- we see past the autism.”
With Timeflies and Adrienne’s mentoring and Converse’s generosity, Rio put his individuality and talent on full display in the recording studio, resulting in an amazing remix of “Swoon” that’s sure catch fire this summer.
"You know this is the most amazing thing for Autism Speaks. It's literally autism speaking," Rio's mom beamed while watching her son performing at the studio. True-er words were perhaps never spoken.
Expert Reviews of Autism Speaks
Evidence of Impact Summary:Autism Speaks provides research on autism and prevention and services for affected families. The organization creates impact through legislative initiatives that strive to improve quality of life for individuals living with the disability. Autism Speaks’ statewide accessibility makes it easier for public to reach out and learn about the disease.
See expert comments.
Organization Strengths Summary:Autism Speaks’ marketing campaign to disseminate information on autism is one of its greatest strengths. In any case, the effective leadership proves why the organization is regarded as a high-impact nonprofit in the field.
See expert comments.
Areas for Improvement Summary:Although Autism Speaks shows high capacity leadership, more voices in the decision-making process and greater transparency with its finances could be improved. Also, other experts would welcome more local programs and projects.
See expert comments.
Expert Comments: Evidence of Impact
Advocacy through Research and Legislature
|It has become the central non-profit for comprehensive information on autism.|
|Autism Speaks’ advocacy efforts have changed. They provided previously unavailable state mandated insurance coverage for families seeking treatment services for autism. Also offered research on infant siblings that has provided earlier detection of autism allowing for better treatment outcomes.|
|Autism Speaks is the leading advocacy organization in the field of autism. They have served countless families with state of the art resources, including their 100-day kit for the newly diagnosed, and the Video Glossary that exemplifies behavioral signs of autism through video demonstrations of behavior.|
|Autism Speaks has had a profound impact on the field of autism by mobilizing parents to speak in legislative efforts, directly funding high priority research related to autism (particularly intervention), and supporting families.|
|They are everywhere and raising tons of money.|
Expert Comments: Organization Strengths
Excellent Marketing and Public Education
|It has strong local chapters as well as the national organization. The organization has done a lot with publicity and marketing to increase autism awareness.|
|The organization excels in awareness. Marketing has helped put the needs associated with autism in the public consciousness. More recent efforts to provide services for the adult autism population are filling a longstanding gap.|
|Their strengths are in marketing and science.|
|The marketing and leadership of Autism Speaks is amazing. The phrase, "1 in 88 can't wait" is easy to remember and informs the public about the epidemic rates at which autism is being diagnosed. Their public service commercials that combine information about the symptoms of autism with the message of early diagnosis/intervention is helpful to families questioning the presence of autism in their family member. They hit upon the pulse of concern for families and the community related to autism in their campaigns.|
Strong Leadership Team
|The organization has a strong leadership in the field - they have surged ahead of other nonprofits in addressing autism.|
|They have strong leadership, funding for research, and advocacy.|
Expert Comments: Areas for Improvement
More Local Programs
|It needs to fund more local programs and projects.|
|They are improving their service outreach.|
Greater Diversity in Decision-Making
|Leadership needs to listen to their more tenured staff and have experienced development personnel versus bringing in more corporate marketing types unfamiliar with nonprofit operations and best practices. More voices on the board need to be heard than the deference shown to the louder voices of the two founders.|
More Evidence-Based Recommendations
|The organization could be more empirically-based, as it has been known in the past to support treatment and intervention approaches that are not scientifically valid and can mislead families about what truly causes autism.|
Better Financial Transparency
|The organization should have more transparency of remuneration of officers. Too much money going to too few leaders makes donors worry - especially when it makes the news.|
Prior to Autism Speaks, Liz from 2006-2012 served as Mayor of the Village of Larchmont, N.Y., located in New York State’s Hudson Valley. As mayor, Liz garnered more than $4 million in state, federal, and local grants to support community projects and restored the Village surplus to $2.3 million. This resulted in the first AAA credit rating from Moody's Investor Services in the Village's history. During her time in office, Liz served as a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. She is also an award-winning environmentalist and has received acclaim from the New York League of Conservation Voters for her work.
Liz has worked as the Director of News Information at ABC News and Senior Vice President of Communications for Nickelodeon. She has appeared on national and local television networks and authored editorial pieces on public policy issues and politics.
Liz served in the White House during the Reagan Administration. First, as a public affairs specialist at the Office of Management and Budget, and then as a press officer for then Vice President George H. W. Bush.
Liz holds a B.A in Government and Political Theory from Georgetown University. She is married to Joel Feld, a television executive, and the proud mom of three children, Alex, K. C., and Matthew.