March 2, 2023

Julie Dunbar, PhD, BCBA, LABA, an Adult Services program specialist for The New England Center for Children’s (NECC) Brewer Lane and Pleasant Street teams, has worked at NECC for 15 years. She was nominated by her colleagues “for many reasons,” including for going “above and beyond to support the team during some challenging months. Her passion for ensuring that the individuals in her care have a meaningful life cannot be expressed in words. She continually advocates for their needs and provides them with the tools they need to reach their full potential. In addition, Julie is dedicated and compassionate when mentoring staff and creates a positive environment for everyone on the team. Whenever we work with Julie, she is a heartfelt and dedicated supervisor who is always willing to listen and help staff in any way they need. She is a truly positive force on the team.”

How long have you worked for NECC?

I started at NECC in 2008 as a level 2 teacher on School Street. Then I was a core shift manager, a residential coordinator, a day coordinator, and program specialist on the Staff Intensive Unit (now the Intensive Treatment Team) before I moved to Adult Services as a program specialist.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I have been lucky to work with individuals in our under-22 and adult programs that have given me a lot of different experiences. Being able to see students/individuals over time as part of different programs is one of my favorite things about NECC.  I love working with staff and seeing them gain skills as teachers, clinicians, and leaders over time.

Why did you choose a career in helping children with autism?  Why NECC?  

As an undergraduate, I completed an ABA-based practicum at a public school working with kids ages 2-6 with developmental disabilities.  Seeing the children make so much progress in only a few months’ time inspired me to work in this field. NECC visited my campus in Michigan at a job fair; I flew to NECC to interview/tour and after my first visit, I knew I wanted to be a part of NECC.  NECC has such a profound impact on so many individuals, families, and the community.

Have you taken advantage of any of the grad programs or teacher training at NECC? If so, how has it impacted your teaching/career?

Yes. I completed the ABA master’s degree and doctoral programs while at NECC and have learned so much from the coursework as well as working with Clinical Director Jason Bourret, PhD, BCBA-D, LABA, and his lab.  Studying and working at NECC has shaped my understanding of behavior analysis.  I love the science and impact that behavior analysis can have not only with individuals with disabilities, but also when used in other applications and settings.  

What is something about you that your colleagues might be surprised to learn?

My husband would say I have a bad habit of failing to close cabinet doors and drawers after I’m done using them. I’m working on it!

What is your life philosophy or a motto you like to live by?

This question made me think of a line from a poem: “May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul” (John O’Donohue).  Staff at NECC do amazing work and demonstrate incredible dedication to our students/individuals and their families. We all need more self-compassion and to recognize the impact we can have on others.