The New England Center for Children announced today that Jacquelyn MacDonald, PhD, BCBA-D, LABA, has been named Educator of the Year. This award is bestowed upon an educator who exemplifies commitment, leadership, and excellence in autism education.  The award will be presented at NECC’s annual Children of Promise Gala, to be held on Friday, November 30 at the InterContinental Boston.

Dr. MacDonald, a long-time teacher and specialist in autism, is an Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) at Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts. She founded the Autism Center at Regis College and their integrated preschool program for children with autism. Dr. MacDonald is also a co-host of the popular ABA Inside Track, a podcast about applied behavior analysis and related research that offers continuing education credit for BCBAs, BCBA-Ds, and BCaBAs. Prior to Regis, she was employed at NECC for 11 years.

“I am honored to receive the Educator of the Year award from The New England Center for Children,” said Jacquelyn MacDonald. “For too long, children with autism and their families have struggled to find the help they need. Applied behavior analysis helps those with autism create meaningful change in behavior to improve quality of life. I am happy to have a career that allows me to use my knowledge to empower and educate those who teach children with autism, so we can help as many children and families with autism as possible.”

 “Jacquelyn is an accomplished educator who not only has transformed the lives of children with autism, but whose influence in ‘teaching the teachers’ has spread the benefits of applied behavior analysis across the country,” said Vincent Strully, President and CEO of The New England Center or Children. “Jacquelyn exemplifies the integrity, passion, and excellence that is NECC. We are delighted that Jacquelyn and her talents were able to flourish at NECC, from her degrees earned in our graduate partner program to her teaching skills to her outstanding work in many departments at the school. She is an exemplary educator who truly deserves the Educator of the Year award.”

At Regis College, Dr. MacDonald trains graduate students in ABA, and is widely acknowledged for her leadership, talent, and excellence in teaching. Her students routinely pass the BCBA exam on the first attempt, with a 100% passing rate for first-time testers in 2017, and have gone on to manage and start their own ABA programs across the country, from Massachusetts to Hawaii.

Dr. MacDonald started her career at The New England Center for Children in 2003, where she was a teacher, day coordinator, and specialist in the residential and day school. During her 11 years at NECC, Dr. MacDonald also worked in other NECC departments including the ACE® ABA Software System and in Professional Development.

While at NECC, Dr. MacDonald earned her master’s in ABA from Northeastern University, in a graduate program partnership between the two schools that enabled NECC employees to attain degrees for little to no cost. She also earned her PhD in ABA through Western New England University’s graduate partnership with NECC, under the guidance of Dr. Bill Ahearn, NECC’s Director of Research.

Dr. McDonald has written and contributed to many research papers on ABA, including “Stimulus Salience in Autism: A Social Learning Disorder,” “Teaching Observational Learning to Children with Autism,” and “Persistence During Extinction: Examining the Effects of Continuous and Intermittent Reinforcement on Problem Behavior.”

“I’m so proud of Jacquelyn for receiving this tremendous honor,” said Laura Burke, dean of the Regis School of Health Sciences. “Her expertise in teaching, the field of ABA and dedication to children is an asset to Regis and the School of Health Sciences.”

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