Russell Lehmann is an award-winning and internationally recognized motivational speaker, poet, author and advocate whose words have reached over 20 million people worldwide, from Argentina to Norway, Lebanon to Australia.
In 2003, Russell was diagnosed with autism at the University of Washington’s Autism Center.
In 2011 Russell wrote a book titled “Inside Out: Stories and Poems from an Autistic Mind” which was featured in the LA Times, earned an Honorable Mention at the 2012 NY Book Festival and won the award for Literary Excellency at the 2013 International Autistic People’s Awards in Vancouver, Canada.
Russell’s name and story is known world wide, and every presentation he gives uplifts, inspires and increases awareness and understanding, all the while producing a room full of emotions. He has yet to give a speech that has not received a standing ovation.
In 2013 Russell made national headlines after a spoken word poem of his, directed at a rap artist who made an offensive comment about those with autism, went viral. After accumulating over 500,000 views in 24 hours, the rapper released an apology a day later and retracted the lyrics from his song.
In 2017 Russell made international headlines when he wrote a heartwarming Facebook post about a meltdown he had at an airport, and the airline employee who helped him through it. It quickly went viral and was featured on Yahoo! News, USA Today, Autism Speaks and countless other media platforms. Everybody everywhere was encouraged to #BeLikeDavid!
Russell has a raging fire within him to stand up for those who are not yet strong enough to do so themselves. His goals in life are to erase the stigma and stereotypes that come with having a disability, and to make this world a better place by spreading hope, awareness, acceptance, belief and tolerance.
Typical of the praise Russell receives is this endorsement from the superintendent of the Upland California School District where he was the keynote:
I cannot begin to thank you enough for your AMAZING presentation today. I received more positive feedback than I have ever received about any of our guest speakers in the five years I have been here. You are a gifted speaker and I have no doubt that you have made a difference in how many of our staff members will interact with our kids, and with each other. It was wonderful to see the long line for your book. I look forward to the next one. Your message about compassion and kindness, and that “words hurt” is something our students need to hear.
Organization for Autism Research’s
“Finding Your Way: A College Guide for Students on the Spectrum”
- Contribution, editing and reviewing of OAR’s college guide giving young adults on the spectrum the tools, support, and guidance they need to better navigate the college environment.https://researchautism.org/findingyourway/
Autism Matters Summer 2018
Ronit Molko, PhD, BCBA-D
Featured and quoted in Dr. Molko’s book “Autism Matters: Empowering Investors, Providers, and the Autism Community to Advance Autism Services” beginning on page 187.
Autism Parenting Magazine Summer 2018
“Should Concern for Your Child with Autism Limit a Rewarding Life?”
Autism Society of America Summer 2018
“View from the Spectrum: Russell Lehmann”
Nevada Business Magazine Summer 2018
“Reno Man Shares Challenges and Rewards of Life with Autism”
Different Brains Summer 2018
“The Keys to Personal Growth”
- Article about personal growth and development. http://differentbrains.org/keys-to-personal-growth-for-different-brains/
Organization for Autism Research (OAR) Spring 2018
“Baby Steps to Big Dreams”
- Article about embracing change and taking risks. https://researchautism.org/baby-steps-to-big-dreams/
Healthline Spring 2018
“How Finding Poetry Help Me Cope with My Autism Diagnosis”
- Interview along with a spoken word poem for Healthline, one of the top health websites in the world. https://www.healthline.com/health/autism/russell-lehmann-autism-activist-poet?utm_source=blog&utm_campaign=influencer&utm_medium=social
Learn from Autistics – Connecting Parents & Caregivers with Autistic Voices Spring 2018
“Autism Interview #63: Russell Lehmann on Never Giving Up”
- Interview regarding autism, advocacy, determination and perseverance: https://learnfromautistics.com/autism-interview-63-russell-lehmann-on-never-giving-up/
Organization for Autism Research’s “The Autism Hire Blog”
- Post titled “Advice for Personal Growth” https://hireautism.org/blog/2017/12/26/advice-for-personal-growth/
Contribution to King’s College London Study
- “Conceptualizing compensation in neurodevelopmental disorders: Reflections from autism spectrum disorder” Interview and insight given to comprehensive international study led by the renowned Francesca Happé, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Director of the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and her student Lucy Livingston. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763417301732?via%3Dihub#!
Feature in USA Today
- “Reno Airport Worker a Blessing to Autism Advocate” Feature about #BeLikeDavid, a viral Facebook post regarding a heartwarming experience during a meltdown at an airport.https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2017/06/15/reno-airport-worker-a-blessing-autism-advocate/399828001/
Feature in Yahoo! News
- “The Tear-Jerking Reason Why This Man “Will Never Forget” an American Airlines Employee” Russell’s viral Facebook post #BeLikeDavid, regarding a heartwarming experience during a meltdown at an airport featured on Yahoo! News. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/tear-jerking-reason-why-man-192004735.html
PROFESSIONAL HONORS AND ASSOCATIONS
October, 2017 – Present
Autism Society of America
Panel of People on the Spectrum of Autism Advisors (PSA)
- Provides expertise and guidance to the Autism Society in all aspects of its work.
- Panel includes some of the most recognized and influential names in the autism community.
International Naturally Autistic People’s Awards (INAPA)
Recipient for Community Achievement Award
- Received INAPA’s 2017 Community Achievement award for his “outstanding contribution to society”.
August, 2017 – Present
Nevada Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders
Adult Services and Resources Subcommittee
Carson City, NV
- Expand and develop new service plans that will provide adults with the opportunity to reach their potential, live as independently as possible and have a good quality of life.
- Promote and legislatively advocate for policies and funding which deliver self-directed, person-centered services for adults.
January, 2017 – Present
Kulture City Speaker’s Bureau
- Promotes autism acceptance throughout the country by sharing his story, message and lessons learned from his experiences.
May, 2016 – Present
Mayor Hillary Schieve of Reno Nevada
- Attends events on behalf of the mayor and city of Reno when she is unable to attend
- Engages in systemic change throughout the city of Reno by promoting diversity, tolerance, awareness, self-confidence and acceptance to local youth by means of school tours, speeches, etc.
December, 2015 – Present
Nevada Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (NGCDD)
Carson City, NV
- Appointed by Governor Brian Sandoval to sit on Nevada’s only developmental disability council
- Former member of the Budget Committee
- Former member of the Legislative Committee
July, 2015 – Present
Autism Coalition of Nevada (ACON)
Self-advocate/board member/Chair of Youth Committee
- ACON is a non-profit 501(c)(3) which has a membership comprised of professionals, organizations, therapists and others who serve Nevadans with Autism Spectrum Disorders and related neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as a multitude of individuals and families whose lives are affected by autism in some way
- YAI Annual Westchester Autism Conference, Westchester, NY (November, 2018): Afternoon keynote providing a raw, transparent and unfiltered, first-hand perspective into the world of autism and mental health.
- OCALICON, Columbus, OH (November, 2018): Mastermind session inspiring systems change and fresh ideas about how we think of “disabilities”.
- State of Nevada Vocational Rehabilitation: Autism Awareness Training, Reno and Las Vegas, NV (November, 2018): Autism awareness training seminar for vocational rehab employees in both Reno and Las Vegas. Topics covered included strategies for first-time employment, following passion rather than success, easing the high school-to-adult transition period and advice on how best to accommodate individuals with disabilities in the workplace.
- Bureau of Land Management Disability Employment Seminar, Reno, NV (October, 2018): Presentation for the BLM in recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
- UCONN LEND Program (September, 2018): 3 hour presentation for the students of the University of Connecticut’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Program. Topics included first person insight into living with a disability, how to better aide clients with disabilities, keys to promote better collaboration between healthcare providers and how to see the person before the diagnosis.
- Delaware Partners in Policymaking Graduation Ceremony, Dover, DE (September, 2018): Commencement address empowering new graduates to pave the way for future change in the disability community followed by a book signing and photo-op.
- Upland School District Staff Retreat, Upland, CA (August, 2018): Keynote presentation to 1,000+ employees of the school district including teachers, assistants, bus drivers, cooks, janitorial teams, etc. Emphasized were the topics of Leading with Compassion, Awareness of Silent Struggles, Unlocking Students’ Potentials and best practices for comforting students in need.
- Nevada Partners in Policymaking Graduation Ceremony, Las Vegas, NV (August, 2018): Commencement address empowering new graduates to pave the way for future change in the disability community followed by a book signing and photo-op.
- National APSE Conference, Lake Bueno Vista, FL: (June, 2018): Presentation and spoken word poetry about the power of one’s voice, along with transparent and raw insight into living a life on the spectrum.
- Leaders of Tomorrow with Ari Ne’eman, Reno, NV: (June, 2018): Presentation alongside disability advocate and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) Ari Ne’eman to empower local youth to follow their dreams in order to be our generation’s next leaders.
- Hawaii Self-Advocacy and Advisory Council Summit, Honolulu, HI (May, 2018): Presentation for members of the Hawaii Self-Advocacy and Advisory Council (SAAC) from all the islands alongside the First Lady of Hawaii Dawn Amano-Ige
- 10th Annual Dare to Dream Conference, Providence, RI (May, 2018): 3 keynotes in 2 days in front of over 1000 attendees including students with disabilities as well as medical professionals and families.
- Expanding the Horizons, Richardson, TX (May, 2018): 90 minute presentation on self-empowerment and perseverance to parents, teachers and students to kick off the Expanding the Horizons series for Region 10. Followed by a 2 hour Q&A.
- Building a Great Life Conference, Cromwell, CT (April, 2018): Closing keynote to end conference after presentations by Ross Beach Distinguished Professor Emerita and Emeritus in Special Education Ann and Rud Turnbull, as well as the executive director of AUCD Andy Imparato. Presentation offered insight and inspiration behind living e meaningful life for over 350 self-advocates, professionals and state workers.
- 2nd Annual University of Washington Autism Center’s Benefit Dinner, Seattle, WA (January, 2018)
- 20th Annual Delaware LIFE Conference, Dover, DE (January, 2018)
- Second Start Learning Disabilities Board Retreat, San Jose, CA (January, 2018)
- Nevada Association for School Psychologists (NVASP), Reno, NV (January, 2018)
- Supported Life Conference, Sacramento, CA (October, 2017)
- Generation Rescue’s 4th Annual Autism Education Summit (AES), Dallas, TX (September, 2017)
- Broward County School District’s Youth Transition to Life Summit, Fort Lauderdale, FL (September, 2017)
- University of South Dakota’s Advocacy Symposium, Sioux Falls, SD (September, 2017)
- Graduation Ceremony for Partners in Policymaking, Rocky Hill, CT (September, 2017)
- UCONN LEND Program (September, 2017)
- National EPIC Conference, Las Vegas, NV (August, 2017)
- 41st Annual Texas Transitions Conference by Texas Association of Vocational Adjustment Coordinators (TAVAC), Dallas, TX (August, 2017)
- Training for Sherriff’s Hostage Negotiating Team, Regional Public Safety Center, Reno, NV (June, 2017)
- RAAC’s Autism and Mental Health Across the Lifespan, Cincinnati, OH (June, 2017)
- C.I.T. First Responder Training, Regional Public Safety Center, Reno, NV (May, 2017)
- Supported Life’s California Statewide Self-Advocacy Conference, Sacramento, CA (May, 2017)
- University of Nevada, Reno Disability Resource Center (DRC) Address, Reno, NV (April, 2017):
- Meet & Greet with Dr. Julie Vargas and Russell Lehmann, Boston, MA (April, 2017)
- P2I: Path to Independence Program, Reno, NV (April, 2017)
- Autism Behavioral Services, Grafton, MA (March, 2017)
- Disability Policy Seminar, Washington, D.C. (March, 2017)
- Cultural Competencies in Healthcare Symposium, Reno, NV (February, 2017)
- Justin Hope Foundation’s First Responder/Hostage Negotiator Training, Reno, NV (February, 2017)
- Easter Seals Nevada All-Staff Retreat, Las Vegas, NV (January, 2017)
- Lewis County Autism Conference, Chehalis, WA (October, 2016)
- Graduation Ceremony for Partners in Policymaking, Rocky Hill, CT (September, 2016)
- First Responder Training, Las Vegas, NV (July, 2016)
- Fundraiser for Miss Nevada 2016, Las Vegas, NV (July, 2016)
- Champions of Equal Opportunity Luncheon, Washington, D.C. (July, 2016)