Northwestern Mutual hosted “The Spectacular Sounds of Autism,” a benefit concert supporting the UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART) and the UCLA Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental Clinic (CAN), on October 7, 2017, held at the home of Keith and Jeanette Wagner. Proceeds from the event will enable UCLA to launch a pilot program aimed at delivering comprehensive educational and support services to UCLA students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
This visionary endeavor was spearheaded by two UCLA alumni, Chau Le, chief operating officer of Northwestern Mutual Los Angeles, and her partner John Klemm, who saw a way to improve the collegiate and employment experiences of these young adults. Le co-chaired the event committee with her colleague Steve Izuno.
Dr. Daniel Geschwind (RES ’95, FEL ’97), director of CART and Gordon and Virginia MacDonald Distinguished Chair in Human Genetics, spoke about the center’s role as a world leader in autism research and treatment. Dr. Amanda Gulsrud, clinical director of CAN, emphasized the potential impact of this innovative program, which will transform the lives of these diverse and talented college students. Northwestern Mutual representatives talked about the company’s college internship program that employs students with ASD and teaches them valuable job skills in a supportive and inclusive environment. Two Northwestern Mutual interns shared their stories of success and how the internship helped launch their respective careers.
Nearly 300 guests attended the event and enjoyed a live performance by musician Stephen Stills, who expressed his support for the program and spoke about his brother, who has ASD. Stills’s performance was followed by the boisterous 1980s cover band The Spazmatics. Through ticket sales and the silent and live auctions, the “spectacular” event raised close to $200,000.