For the second time in less than three months, a top executive at Autism Speaks is announcing plans to move on.

Rob Ring, the organization’s chief science officer, is leaving after more than four years with the group. His last day will be Jan. 15.

Ring’s decision comes after Liz Feld, Autism Speaks’ president, said in September that she will leave the nonprofit next summer.

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“There’s a lot of change going on at the organization right now,” Ring told Disability Scoop. “I let the board and Liz know that I’d be departing the organization to explore other opportunities.”

Rob Ring will leave his position as chief science officer at Autism Speaks in January. (Autism Speaks)

Rob Ring will leave his position as chief science officer at Autism Speaks in January. (Autism Speaks)

Ring declined to specify what he plans to do next.

Feld and Ring are the group’s highest paid employees, each earning roughly $400,000 in 2014, according to Autism Speaks’ most recently disclosed tax filings. And, the two are among the organization’s more recognizable faces in the media.

Ring led Pfizer’s autism research unit before joining Autism Speaks in 2011 as vice president of translational research. He was promoted to chief science officer in 2013 when Geraldine Dawson left the post to take a position at Duke University.

The leadership shuffle comes as Autism Speaks is already adapting. Suzanne Wright – who co-founded the group with her husband Bob – recently stepped aside after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Ring said the time is right for him to move on. Many of the high-profile projects he’s spearheaded – including the genomic research project MSSNG which Autism Speaks has partnered with Google on – are “reaching their pinnacle” with dedicated leadership teams and paths to move forward, he said.

In an internal memo to Autism Speaks employees and supporters that was obtained by Disability Scoop, the group said that a search for Ring’s replacement will commence immediately.

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