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Be careful where you put your research dollars August 25, 2009

Filed under: The E.C.H.O. Foundation — dottys @ 10:00 pm
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God I hate doing this, but just another thing I have been yelling about since Autism Speaks was first established. All non profits are not created equal and some are just plain money makers. I worked for an 501c3 for 6 years. I saw the ins and outs of what a non profit can and can not do and it really made me take a second look at charitable organizations. Now I do not donate a dime unless I know for sure where the money is going. I check out endorsers, research, philosophies, etc.and yes even payroll. A 501c3 is a public non profit, which means the public is entitled to know where their money is going. Here is an example of what Autism Speaks is spending your money on.
BTW if you want to support good, honest independent autism research please check out Dr. Wakefield’s org
Let’s Speak the Truth!
Dotty Scalco
In response to my prior post on the captioned subject I received the following.  While I can’t verify every aspect, I am not surprised and find it outrageous.  Given that that Autism Speaks is a publicly supported charity I believe an explanation is owed to its supporters.
===============”One of the most eye-catching revelations in examining the Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax) of Autism Speaks is the compensation paid to its Chief Science Officer, Geraldine Dawson.

According to Schedule J, Part II of the Form 990, Ms. Dawson received base compensation of $373,360 during 2008. In addition, she received what is described as “other compensation” of $270,904 during 2008. Also included was “deferred compensation” of $3,750 and “nontaxable benefits” of $21,737. In total, she received total compensation package during 2008 of $669,751!

The “other compensation” is described by Autism Speaks in their Form 990 as a “one time relocation payment.” What is very interesting is that prior to Ms. Dawson’s employment with Autism Speaks, she was Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of [State of] Washington (UW) and a founding director of the UW Autism Center. The relocation allowance of $270,904 paid to Ms. Dawson was for her move from the State of Washington to the State of North Carolina. To date, Autism Speaks does not have an office in North Carolina. But what is particularly interesting is that Ms. Dawson’s family resides in North Carolina and has resided there for some time. Apparently this was a way for Ms. Dawson to move closer to her family on somebody else’s dime and Autism Speaks was more than happy to accommodate her. Upon moving, she became a Research Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Whether the University of North Carolina paid her a relocation allowance is not known. Was her move to North Carolina really for the benefit of her employer?

Autism Speaks has three main offices – one in New York City (their national headquarters), one in Princeton, New Jersey (a satellite office) and one in Los Angeles, California, which headquarters their science operations. Presumably Ms. Dawson, as Chief Science Officer of Autism Speaks would be headquartered in the Los Angeles office. This is not the case. That said, proximity to the Los Angeles office is closer from Washington State than North Carolina.

The compensation package paid by Autism Speaks to Ms. Dawson borders on the criminal. Autism Speaks as a tax exempt 501(c)(3) charity essentially reports not to stockholders but to the general public at large. They have a solemn public responsibility to spend the funds they raise from the general public in a responsible and wise manner. The organization has acted grossly irresponsible in this case.”


On Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 5:52 PM, Marty <> wrote:

Autism Speaks 2008 Federal Form 990 was just forwarded to my attention.  The entire filing can be found at

Of particular note is that Geraldine Dawson earned from AS during 2008 the following:

Base compensation        $373,360

Other compensation       $270,904

Deferred comp               $ 3,750

Non-taxable benefits       $21,737

Total compensation       $669,751.

According to the 990, $269,721 of the compensation is a “one time relocation allowance.”  No further details provided.

Reasonable people can differ on the impact of this but given all the focus lately on compensation and considering the facts that Autism Speaks is a publicly supported charity, I think this speaks for itself.  I set forth the entire schedule J for this Non-for-profit and you can reach your own conclusion.

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