Leader in Autism Education Prepares for Future of Growth and Excellence

Southborough, Mass. – November 18, 2020 – The New England Center for Children® (NECC®), a global leader in education and research for children with autism, announced today its executive leadership succession plan. Founder and CEO Vincent Strully, Jr., who has served in that role for all of NECC’s 45 years, will be succeeded by Dr. Jessica Sassi, PhD, BCBA-D, LABA, in 2023.

Dr. Sassi, NECC’s former Clinical Director, is currently serving in an executive role for the organization. The long-term succession plan is staged over several years to prepare the executive team and NECC community for Mr. Strully’s departure. Mr. Strully will work closely with Dr. Sassi in the interim to maximize the $110 million nonprofit’s clinical and financial administration, program development, fundraising, and strategic planning.

“Helping children with autism has been my life for more than 45 years. I have been privileged to work alongside our talented staff these many years. I am proud of the accomplishments NECC has achieved, and the thousands of children and families whose lives we have transformed,” said Mr. Strully. “The Board of Directors and all of us at NECC have every confidence that NECC will continue to be a leader in autism education under the capable stewardship of Dr. Sassi.  I have worked closely with Dr. Sassi for many years and know she has the skills and experience to steer NECC to a bright future.”

 “I am excited and honored to lead NECC into the next generation,” said Dr. Sassi.  “I look forward to working with Vinnie over the succession period to continue our strategic vision and innovation in autism education. From our educators to our researchers and staff, NECC will remain focused on learning as an organization and growing as a cause—because the two are inseparable. We will achieve our vision of a world where autism is not a barrier by living our values: growing professionally, making an impact with evidence-based practices, and pursuing excellence.”

Dr. Sassi has more than 20 years of autism education and applied behavior analysis experience. She currently serves in an executive role but has previously held key roles at the organization as the former Clinical Director and as a Residential Program Director. Dr. Sassi is Clinical Adjunct Faculty in Behavior Analysis at Western New England University. She is widely published in academic journals, and is a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. graduate of the University of Florida.

Mr. Strully founded NECC 45 years ago, and in that time has grown the organization into a global leader in autism education, research and technology. Under Mr. Strully’s leadership, NECC experienced remarkable growth since its founding in 1975 with a $30,000 state grant and six staff. Today, NECC employs 1,200 people, operates with a $110 million budget, garnered many awards, and serves over 9,000 students and teachers across the United States and in 19 countries.

Mr. Strully executed his vision for NECC by expanding beyond its own classrooms with ABA curriculum software, an expansive autism research program, public school partnerships, industry-leading professional development, and international expansion. Mr. Strully spearheaded successful fund raising campaigns totaling more than $25 million, which led to the creation of the Michael S. Dukakis Aquatic Center, The John and Diane Kim Autism Institute, and the Dillon Arledge Student Center.  A graduate of Hamilton College, Mr. Strully is an autism thought leader frequently cited by media and an industry veteran who has won many awards and honors.

 “Few CEOs have such tenure and success in the growth of their company. On behalf of the entire Board, I would like to thank Vinnie for his visionary leadership and commitment to NECC since its founding,” said John Kim, Chair of the Board of Directors. “Noteworthy is Mr. Strully’s application of corporate business practices and growth techniques to the nonprofit world.  He recruited a heavy-hitting Board of Directors that include former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis and New York Life CEO John Kim. The Board looks forward to working with Dr. Sassi, whose combination of clinical and business acumen make her an ideal leader for NECC.”

Watch the official announcement below:

About The New England Center for Children

The New England Center for Children® (NECC®) is an award-winning autism education center and research institute. Our diverse community of teachers, researchers, and clinicians have transformed the lives of thousands of children with autism worldwide through education, research, and technology. The Center provides comprehensive services to maximize independence: home-based, day, and residential programs, partner classrooms in public school systems, consulting services, the ACE® ABA Software System (www.acenecc.org), teacher professional development, and research on educational best practices.

NECC is committed to staff professional development, partnering with local colleges to provide on-site graduate training and degrees at little to no cost to the NECC teacher. The result is a growing pool of exceptional teachers trained in best-in-class methodologies, whether they continue their careers at NECC or move on to public schools or private agencies. The New England Center for Children is based in Southborough, MA, and operates a center in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Learn more at www.necc.org.