Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, PhD(c), MA (she/they) is a global advocate, educator, disabled person of color, non-binary woman, and parent of children on the autism spectrum in a neurodiverse, multicultural, twice-exceptional serodifferent family. A prolific writer and social scientist/activist whose work focuses on intersectional justice, meaningful community involvement, human rights, and inclusion, Morénike, who was raised in the United States by West African immigrants, is recognized as a leader in various social justice activism endeavors.
Morénike is a highly sought after public speaker, trainer, and consultant who has presented at the White House, the United Nations, and numerous peer-reviewed international conferences. Morénike works collaboratively with various entities, including The Color of Autism, the Institute for Exceptional Care, Autism in Black, Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health, the National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities, the National Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Center, the Cambridge University Autism Centre for Excellence, and the Stanford University Neurodiversity Project to address the needs of underrepresented and marginalized individuals and groups. A contributing author/editor of several publications, Morénike has written for and/or been featured in the NY Times, Psychology Today, the Atlantic, the Today Show, NPR, BBC, Salon, HuffPo, Spectrum, POZ, and Autism in Adulthood, etc.
Morénike is a co-editor of two AWN publications: Sincerely, Your Autistic Child: What People on the Autism Spectrum Wish Their Parents Knew About Growing Up, Acceptance, and Identity from Beacon Press and All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism. Morénike’s forthcoming Neurodiversity en Noir: A Collection of Black Neurodiverse Voices will be published by Jessica Kingsley Publishing in 2022.
Morénike was the first Black woman to Chair the NIH-funded Global Community Advisory Board for HIV clinical research and the first Black Executive Board of Directors member of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network and Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network. Morénike is the first selectee of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Center (the US federal advisory committee on autism) who is an autistic woman of color. Additionally, Morénike is a Humanities Scholar at Rice University’s Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality and Co-Chair of the Women’s HIV Research Collaborative of the Office of HIV/AIDS Network Coordination. Morénike has recently been appointed by Dr. Anthony Fauci to the Strategic Working Group of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Morénike has a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations, a Master of Arts in Special Education with a concentration on autism and developmental disabilities, and is a doctoral candidate.
A full-time faculty member at a public two year college as well as a steering member of the inaugural Autistic Researchers Review Board, Morénike also serves as founder and principal operator of Advocacy Without Borders, a grassroots nonprofit supporting community advocates. Morénike and spouse proudly parent six beautiful biological and internationally adopted children ranging in age from elementary through young adult, all of whom have “hidden” disabilities.