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Peter Bell


Peter Bell is executive vice president for programs and services at Autism Speaks. He oversees the foundation's government relations and family services activities and also serves as an advisor to the science division. 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. 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 its 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 New Jersey with their three children. Their eldest son, Tyler, has autism.

Research or other Professional Activities

Peter Bell has been an active autism advocate for almost 15 years when his oldest son, Tyler, was diagnosed with ASD. Peter and his wife, Liz, were involved in the early development of Cure Autism Now, the MIND Institute at UC Davis and The Autism Center of New Jersey Medical School. In 2001, Peter and Liz co-founded the Philadelphia chapter of Cure Autism Now (CAN). He joined that organization's national board of directors in 2003. A year later, he left Johnson & Johnson to became president and CEO of CAN. Under his leadership, CAN's total funding tripled and grew to more than $39 million, the Combating Autism Act of 2006 was enacted and the Autism Treatment Network (ATN) was formed.

Following the merger between CAN and Autism Speaks, Peter's professional focus turned to services for individuals with autism and their families across the lifespan as well as public policy issues. He founded the Family Services and Government Relations departments at Autism Speaks in 2007. Under his leadership, these divisions are responsible for:  1) the development of numerous resources including the 100 Day Kit, School Community Toolkit, Transition Toolkit, Autism Safety Project, and the online Resource Guide and Resource Library, 2) the creation of several grant programs including Family Services Community Grants ($2.5 million funded to date), Baker Summer Camp Program ($133,000 funded to date) and AutismCares ($156,000 funded to date) and 3) the advancement of autism insurance reform which includes laws in 23 states and a provision for behavioral health treatments as an essential health benefit within federal health care reform. More recently, Peter and his Government Relations team have been actively involved in securing Congressional support for the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) and the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.

Peter's other professional activities include: serving as Chair of the Community Advisory Committee of the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR), serving as Chair/Alt Chair of the Integrations Panel for the Department of Defense CDMRP Autism Research Program, and being a founding member of Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism (AFAA), a national consortium seeking to create meaningful futures for adults with autism that include homes, jobs, recreation, friends and supportive communities.