A Letter from Christopher Banks, the New President & CEO of the Autism Society of America.
I am honored and grateful to be the new President and CEO at the Autism Society of America and join this caring, passionate, and strong community. I look forward to learning and connecting with the National team, our network of affiliates, and you, the autism community.
I appreciate the trust the Board of Directors has placed in me. Also, I offer my sincere thanks to Scott Badesch, for his unwavering commitment to the Autism Society and the meaningful work he’s done for the past ten years.
I fully understand the importance of community. I bring to the Autism Society a thirty-year career in the not-for-profit community where I served a variety of organizations including educational institutions, human services providers and healthcare facilities. Most recently, I served as Vice President of Development and Community Engagement at Charles E. Smith Life Communities in Rockville, Maryland, working with the senior population.
Through discussions with the Autism Society Board of Directors, I saw how my past experiences and skill-set could strengthen the Autism Society of America; ultimately, it’s all about helping people fulfill their potential, recognize their self-worth and value, and live quality lives that are full of happiness and meaning.
My vision is to create more opportunities across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, raise more funds to better support our affiliates and constituents, and to strengthen and develop partnerships to positively improve the quality of life for individuals and families affected by autism.
Already, I have been fortunate to meet with self-advocates, families, affiliates, business leaders, partner organizations, and so many others as I transition into this role. Upon hearing your stories and learning of your experiences, I continue to be astounded by the number of individuals who are not able to receive the services they need and deserve; are either unemployed or under-employed; and who struggle to find adequate housing and health care.
I believe strongly that every willing autistic adult deserves the opportunity to be gainfully employed with a job matching his or her skillset.
Equally alarming is the high number of individuals who struggle to find adequate housing. Residential services in the community is a complex issue for those on the autism spectrum, and I intend to listen attentively to better understand their needs, as we look for ways to provide better resources, support, and solutions.
Through strategic planning and partnership development, we can increase access to community-based services and supports, employment opportunities and financial independence. As I look to our organization’s future, I am committed to improving its financial health and fundraising efforts; reinforcing a strong, trusting relationship between the national office and our affiliate network, and to constantly seek efficiency and efficacy with our programmatic and support efforts.
At my alma mater, The University of Scranton, I learned a Latin word – magis – that means “more” or “greater.” As I begin my role as President and CEO, I’d like my efforts to reflect this moment of “magis.”
Along with the Autism Society team and affiliate network, we have the opportunity to do more for others; to serve more, to give more, to be more. It is my fervent hope that together we will be able to achieve more than we have before; that we grow more, and that we are more present, more available, and more willing to serve others for the benefit of this great community.
I would like the magis of my work at the Autism Society of America to be about value and impact. Individuals living with autism have tremendous potential and immeasurable worth in their families, in our places of work and in our communities – and I aim to create more opportunities for success, in a supported, inclusive society.
As the largest, oldest, and highly respected autism organization in the nation, I promise to be the best possible leader that I can, and I appreciate this great honor that has been entrusted to me by the Board of Directors.
I look forward to living and celebrating the magis together!