Welcome Address

Zsuzsanna Szilvasy, Mark McDonald MSP, and Mark Lever

Zsuzsanna Szilvásy
In 1993, Zsuzsanna graduated as an architect from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. She has two children; Márton was born in 1993 and Mihály in 1997.

Zsuzsanna's professional life in the field of autism started after receiving the diagnosis for her second child. First, she started studying at the University of Birmingham and working as a volunteer for the Hungarian Autistic Society (www.aosz.hu). At the national organisation, she was responsible for the international connections, and thanks to these experiences and the knowledge, she worked on launching family and school groups in Hungary, and later she was elected as the President of the Hungarian Autistic Society. During this time, the Society has conducted the one and only Countrywide Autistic Research, and based on international examples it started different educational, communicational and advocacy programs.

Zsuszanna has also coordinated several international projects in Hungary, one of the most recognised one was the 10th Autism-Europe International Congress (http://www.autismcongress2013.eu).

Thanks to her broad experience and knowledge in the field of autism, she has been invited to speak about the rights and goals of people with autism at national and international conferences, at the Geneva headquarter of WHO, and at the United Nations in New York.

Mark McDonald, MSP
Mark was born 7 June 1980 in Aberdeen, North East Scotland. Educated at Dyce Primary School and Dyce Academy, Mark went on to gain an MA in Politics from the University of Dundee and an MLitt in Strategic Studies from the University of Aberdeen.

From 2003 to 2011, Mark worked as a personal assistant to MSP's Richard Lochhead, Maureen Watt and Nigel Don. He was elected to Aberdeen City Council in 2007, representing Dyce, Bucksburn and Danestone. Mark was later elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2011 from the North East Scotland regional list with the SNP taking 52.7% of the vote. It came as a surprise to Mark who famously appeared at the declaration wearing jeans and a t-shirt!

A by election in April 2013, saw Mark selected as the SNP candidate for Aberdeen Donside, where he resigned his regional seat. He was returned to the Scottish Parliament as MSP for Aberdeen Donside on 20 June 2013 and again on the 6th May 2016.

Mark Lever
Mark Lever joined The National Autistic Society as Chief Executive in March 2008. During this time he has led the charity through a period of significant strategic change.

The National Autistic Society is the UK's leading charity for people affected by autism. It runs six independent autism specific schools, has developed inclusion units in mainstream settings and opened two free schools with a third free school in development. In addition, the charity delivers thousands of packages of community-based support for adults affected by autism.

The National Autistic Society is a highly effective campaigning body and champions the rights and interests of autistic people. It aims to provide autistic individuals and their families help, support and services that they can access, trust and rely upon and which can help them lead the life they choose.

Mark is a member of the National Autism Programme Board, which oversees the implementation of the strategy for adults with autism, and a founder member and Chief Executive of The National Autistic Society Academies Trust.

When he is not negotiating peace settlements and behaviour related pay awards with his four boys he relaxes by cooking, drinking wine with his wife, long distance cycling, running a disco for charity and regularly losing at tennis and golf.


PL-0 » Opening Ceremony (09:40 - Friday, 16th September, Pentland Auditorium)