Autism’s warrior woman

Suzanne Wright with husband Bob and grandson Christian. Courtesy Autism Speaks

Suzanne Wright was a lovely woman with a fierce determination to give voice to the often voiceless – those who are autistic or are on the autism spectrum. As we wrote in a November 2014 profile of her and her husband Bob, onetime vice chairman of GE and president, CEO and chair of NBC and NBC Universal, the Wrights were thrown into an advocacy role after their grandson, Christian, was diagnosed with autism and they realized there were few options for treatment. The result is Autism Speaks, an 11-year-old nonprofit that employs more than 200 worldwide and invests more than $500 million in its mission, the four pillars of which are science, advocacy, family services and awareness. (In addition, the organization’s advocacy has been instrumental in gaining at least another $2 billion in funding for autism research from the National Institutes of Health.)

Now a leading voice for the organization has been stilled. Suzanne Wright succumbed to complications from pancreatic cancer on July 29 at her home in Fairfield. She was 69. The Sarah Lawrence College graduate, who had studied dance and theater, was comfortable on the world stage, particularly in support of this cause. Her husband – who is among her survivors – told The New York Times she was “a warrior.”

Now it’s for others to take up the fight, knowing that we honor the dead by serving the living. – Georgette Gouveia

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