02 April 2015 World Autism Awareness Day - United Nations Headquarters New York/USA
Updated: Feb 10
The launch of a Call to Action inviting business to make concrete commitments to employ persons with autism took place at an event entitled “Employment: The Autism Advantage” in observance of World Autism Awareness Day on Thursday, 2 April 2015. This event was inaugural and it paved the way to annual Autism Advantage Luncheons.
Speakers included the former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Governor Jack Markell of Delaware, and business executives from Ernst & Young, Freddie Mac, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, SAP and more. Bill Blakemore, award winning correspondent with ABC News, moderated.
The 2015 observance of World Autism Awareness Day was organized by the United Nations Department of Global Communications and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in cooperation with Specialisterne Foundation, with the support of the United Nations Global Compact. The event was co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Denmark, Israel, the Republic of Korea, Peru, Poland and Sri Lanka to the United Nations.
The event focused on measures required to support growth in employment opportunities for people on the autism spectrum. The intention was to demonstrate that people with autism can be valued employees for employers who understand their unique and often exceptional skills, as well as what it takes to create work environments where people with autism can excel.
See the webcast of the event or click on each speaker below to see a clip of their presentation.
Welcome and Opening
Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, United Nations
Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
H.E. Mr. Einar Gunnarsson, Vice President of the General Assembly
Keynote: “A Better Bottom Line“ – Jack Markell, Governor of Delaware
Session 1: Setting the Scene
Thorkil Sonne, Founder, Specialisterne Foundation
Prof. Arlene S. Kanter, Syracuse University
Merry Barua, Director, Action For Autism and National Centre for Autism, India
Ronnie Goldberg, Senior Counsel, U.S. Council for International Business; U.S. employer representative on the International Labor Organization’s Governing Body
Prof. Rob Austin, Copenhagen Business School
Zsuzsanna Szilvasy, President, Autism Europe
Presentations from the floor
Session 2: Autism at Work
Emily Brooks, graduate student
John Hartman, artist, employee at Metro Kosher Deli
Randy Richardson, Assistant Paralegal, Mayerson & Associates
John Haley, CEO and Chairman, Towers Watson
Tanja Rueckert, EVP and COO, Products and Innovation Development, SAP
Mary Ellen Smith, Corporate Vice President, Operations, Microsoft
Presentations from the floor
Robert Lux, Executive VP and CIO, Freddie Mac
Jeremy Badman, COO, Oliver Wyman
Ernie Dianastasis, Managing Director, CAI
Rajesh Anandan, Co-founder, ULTRA Testing; SVP UNICEF Venutres, UNICEF-USA
Lori Golden, Abilities Strategy Leader, Ernst & Young
Rosa Oyama Ganiko, Dir. of Projects and Research, Centro Ann Sullivan de Perú
Patrick Viesti, Employee, SAP
Thomas D'Eri, Co-Founder, Rising Tide Car Wash
Sean Cruse, Research and Communications, United Nations Global Compact
Thomas Gass, ASG, DESA, United Nations
Source: United Nations