Mark Lever - Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society

Mark Lever, our Chief Executive, is leaving our charity after 11 years. Here is his letter to you and all our supporters.

Dear all,

This year, I celebrated 11 years serving as the Chief Executive at the National Autistic Society. I have immensely enjoyed my time here but, after over a decade, I have decided it is time to move on and will be leaving our wonderful charity in May. 

I am really proud of all we have achieved together in my time here and want to thank everyone who has supported our charity to make this possible. Whether you have volunteered with us, fundraised for us, donated to us or campaigned with us, thank you. 

The first campaign I worked on here was ‘I Exist’, which was aimed purely and simply at persuading people that autistic adults exist and autism isn’t something you ‘grow out of’. Eleven years on, huge challenges still exist for autistic children, adults and their families, but things have moved on and I feel privileged to have played a role in these changes.

We have Autism Acts in England and Northern Ireland and growing public and political interest in autism across the UK. Our Too Much Information campaign has done much to transform the public’s understanding of autism. Through digital channels, we have better ways than ever to reach people with information that can change their lives. Our charity has grown our fundraising so that we can continue to provide support to people through our helpline, our branches and our campaigns. And with the support of supporters such as the Anderson Foundation and Cullum Family Trust, we have opened three new schools and three new mainstream school units, increasing the opportunities for autistic children to receive the education they deserve.

We have also faced huge challenges, particularly the cuts to local council funding, which make autistic people’s everyday lives more difficult. 

I am proud of what our charity achieves every day and I’m going to miss working here enormously. Our Chair of Trustees will be leading the process of looking for a new Chief Executive and of course autistic people and family members will be part of this process, alongside our Trustees, the majority of whom have lived experience of autism. Whoever gets this role will be extremely lucky – they will be joining a fantastic charity, and working for such an important cause.

I am going to work for a new organisation, Helpforce, which is working to increase volunteering in the NHS. It is an exciting new challenge for me and I hope I will be able to continue to make a difference to autistic people’s lives in my new role, but it has been a very difficult decision to leave such a fantastic charity.

For now, thank you to everyone who has supported me and the National Autistic Society in my time here. I will always continue to support the charity – I know that despite everything we have done, society still doesn’t work for autistic people and changing this will take even more work from our staff, our volunteers and our supporters. While I won’t be leading the organisation, I will be cheering on everyone’s efforts to change society. 

Thank you,