June 23, 2022

Zalika Tyrell is a graduate assistant and level 2 teacher who has worked at The New England Center for Children (NECC) for three years. Tyrell was nominated for demonstrating leadership and effectively communicating with her peers, supervisors, and other departments. A colleague shared that Tyrell is a problem solver who “knows how to recruit assistance when needed in a productive and professional manner” while addressing all questions and concerns. Tyrell was also lauded for her ability to validate “the concerns of staff while keeping the conversation productive and professional and functions as an excellent resource for new staff and unfamiliar staff. Zee is highly composed and calm during crises and makes excellent safety decisions; consistently meets all timelines and works very independently; and her communication with parents is professional and thorough.”

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is building rapport with our students, helping them navigate their lives, and seeing the tremendous progress they make each day!

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

I chose this career because I wanted to play a more active role in improving the lives of kids like my brother who are living with autism. I wanted to increase autism awareness in a way that highlights community effort and involvement, and this career is teaching me how to do just that.


NECC has given me the professional exposure I have been seeking. So far, I have worked with so many students, all with varying needs, personalities, and skill repertoires and I really think that has allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. 

Have you taken advantage of any of the grad programs or teacher training at NECC?

Yes, I am in my last year of the Western New England University master’s in ABA program.  

You just returned from representing NECC at the Black Applied Behavior Analysts (BABA) Conference, what was that like?

The BABA Conference was unlike anything I have experienced before! I am truly grateful that I had the opportunity to be there. I attended quite a few talks at BABA, and it was surreal for me to be in a room with so many black women who embody my future professional milestones. Some of my favorite talks were about bridging research with living experiences, dismantling oppressive practices, the impact of racism and performative allyship on black behaviorists in the workplace and social media, person-centered ABA, and influencing organizational culture. It was truly an uplifting experience to be surrounded by such black excellence! I’m already excited for BABACON 2023.

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

I am a plant enthusiast. I can confidently say I have a green thumb. I now have over 50 plants that I have successfully kept alive! 

Who is someone you look up to?

My mother.

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

The inspiration you seek is already within.