russell lehmann

motivational speaker - author - poet - advocate -

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.


Winter 2018
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.

Winter 2017
Organization for Autism Research’s “The Autism Hire Blog”

Summer 2017
Contribution to King’s College London Study

Summer 2017
Feature in USA Today

Summer 2017
Feature in Yahoo! News


October, 2017 - Present
Autism Society of America
Panel of People on the Spectrum of Autism Advisors (PSA)
Bethesda, MD

  • 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.

October, 2017
International Naturally Autistic People’s Awards (INAPA)
Recipient for Community Achievement Award
Vancouver, Canada

  • 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
Founding Member
Birmingham, AL

  • 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
Representative/Youth Ambassador
Reno, NV

  • 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)
Self-advocate/council member
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
Reno, NV

  • 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


  • 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)