Why We Serve | Organization for Autism Research

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OAR’s board of directors serves a vital role in stewarding the funds of research and scholarship activities, and authorizing the direction of future programs and operations. Each board member has a unique story about what brought them to OAR, what it means to them, and why they continue to serve. Here are two of those stories.


Greg Smith

My involvement with OAR has allowed me to stay engaged in the broader autism community and to be in tune with the greater struggle faced by families dealing with this disorder. My daughter came into this world at 26 weeks and weighing one pound/six ounces. We were fortunate to have a lot of caring people provide immeasurable help at that time as my wife and I grappled with the many questions we faced with our daughter’s issues. When I was asked if I would be interested in joining the OAR’s Board of Directors, I saw it as an opportunity to give back a little of what I had been given in the way of support.

Being on the OAR Board means I am a member of a well-established, top-rated charity that allows me the opportunity to give back to the greater autism community. I support the scholarship review process, the final review of applications by the Scientific Council, and the RUN FOR AUTISM Program. I also participate once a year in the Marine Corps Marathon 10K, which gives me a channel to spread the word about OAR and its mission.

In 2020, I am looking forward to seeing the impact of three recently published resources, Sex Ed. for Self-Advocates, A Guide for Military Families and Operation Autism.org, and Hire Autism’s expansion.

Related: Greg Smith’s website bio


Mike Maloney

It is an honor to play a leadership role with OAR as the executive director and part of the founding team. I serve on the Board as the non-voting secretary.

After 18 years, OAR is very much part of me and vice versa. I enjoy coming to work every day knowing we have a mission that helps people. So, the job has great meaning for me. What makes it even more enjoyable is the OAR staff. We’ve been blessed with a long line of excellent employees, who care about the mission. There’s no better example of that than the team we have today!

Every day someone on my staff or I am active in any number of ways. Sometimes it is specific work on a project; other times it’s just listening and responding to a parent or self-advocate with a question. I like to think that the quality of the work my staff and I do sets the example and draws people to our mission out of interest.

One of my favorite parts of the work I do is attending the annual meeting of the Scientific Council when the members review the top studies competing for research grants. I’m just an observer, but I have learned more about autism and research design listening to the professionals discuss and evaluate the studies than in any other way.

Our Run for Autism program also excites me and not just because of its fundraising success. Every race day I get to meet people who in many cases are running their first marathons; I watch the happy, post-race reunions where kids excited to see Mommy or Daddy fly into their parents’ tired legs; and then I see the pride in their faces as I hang the OAR medal around their neck. 

My third OAR favorite is the Kit for Kids. The peer education and acceptance resources we have created and their potential have had and continue to have such a great impact. What started as a summer intern’s project has blossomed into one of OAR’s ongoing successes.

Related: Michael Maloney’s website bio 


No Small Part

Every individual donor, volunteer, staff member, and supporter makes OAR the success that it is today. OAR thanks everyone for their continued support. Readers who wish to share their stories are encouraged to send them to with the subject line “My OAR Experience.”


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