Fatou Njie-Jallow, MHA, director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at The New England Center for Children (NECC), began her career at NECC more than 22 years ago as a teacher. She was nominated by colleagues because she’s “an amazing woman who takes the time to actually listen to you and make you feel heard and seen…She’s incredible, and I’m amazed by all the work being done by DEI.” Another shared that, “Fatou is the epitome of strength, perseverance, and humility. She is committed to helping everyone around her do their best, feel their best, and be their best. I will be forever grateful for her impact on the way I see myself and the world around me.”
How long have you worked for NECC?
I have worked at NECC for over 22 years. I was a teacher for about three years, then transitioned to the nursing department, where I spent over 18 years as the health care coordinator and then operations manager after I received my master’s degree in health administration.
What are your responsibilities as director of DEI?
My responsibilities include developing and implementing strategies to foster a culture of inclusivity, providing training and support to staff and management, partnering with Human Resources and Recruiting to develop and implement programs that encourage a diverse pool of applicants, and analyzing and reporting on diversity metrics.
What is something you would like people to know about DEI at NECC?
At NECC, we don’t want DEI to be just a buzzword or a box to check, but a fundamental value that informs all aspects of the agency’s operations. NECC recognizes that a diverse workforce enhances the quality of services provided to its students and families and promotes positive outcomes for all.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is connecting with the staff, learning more about them, creating and implementing initiatives that promote inclusion in the workplace, and seeing the positive impact these initiatives have on the agency and its people.
Why did you choose a career in helping children with autism?
I chose this career because I have a passion for positively impacting the lives of children with autism and individuals with disabilities.
I chose NECC because of its reputation as a leader in an evidence-based approach to autism education and treatment, its history of providing high-quality services to individuals with autism and their families, and its commitment to staff training and development.
Have you taken advantage of any grad programs or teacher training at NECC?
No, but because NECC is committed to staff training and development, they supported me in creating my career growth and advancement to build new skills and knowledge.
What is something about you that your colleagues might be surprised to learn?
I speak four languages.
Who is someone you look up to?
I look up to many individuals, both personally and professionally. Professionally, I look up to Don Thompson and Jackie Ferguson of The Diversity Movement, who have been strongly committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. They have shown that it is possible to create inclusive cultures and promote diversity and inclusion, even in industries or organizations where these values may not have been historically prioritized. Their leadership and advocacy serve as a model for others working to create more equitable and inclusive workplaces for driving employee engagement, increasing innovative thinking, and ultimately boosting performance.
What is your life philosophy or motto you like to live by?
I have several mottos that I live by, but one that I always operate from in my work is an African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This proverb highlights the importance of collaboration and teamwork in achieving long-term goals.