Bridget Higgins of Manchester Wins Outstanding Research and Education Award


The New England Center for Children (NECC) announced this week that Manchester resident Bridget Higgins has been named one of the 2023 winners of the Myrna E. Libby Scholar Award. 

The award, established in 2009, honors one NECC staff enrolled in each of the onsite graduate programs – Simmons University and Western New England University – whose work exemplify Higgins is the clinical residential program coordinator for NECC’s New Castle, Ursla, Salem End, and West 1 residences.  Higgins came to NECC as an intern in summer 2019 before being hired as a full-time employee the following summer.  She was inspired by her sister, who has autism, to enter into this particular field.

“Our relationship has profoundly impacted my life and allowed me to experience so much joy working with this population,” said Higgins, who just finished her third year in the applied behavior analysis (ABA) graduate program through Western New England University and plans to finish by the end of the year. 

Myrna Libby’s vision that research guides the education and treatment of individuals with autism. 

Myrna Libby, Ph.D., BCBA, was a director at NECC for 20 years whose impact endures as she was the principal program architect of NECC’s internationally recognized curriculum.  As clinical director, she was a tireless advocate for using scientifically validated approaches and her groundbreaking research helped improve the lives of children with autism.  For Libby, the actual test of any program was whether it made a meaningful difference in students’ behavior.  Her clinical work directly benefitted the lives of many and will continue to positively influence countless others for generations to come.

Libby passed away in 2008.

Higgins said Myrna Libby’s career and vision is an inspiration to her and she feels incredibly honored to be nominated, and win, this award.

“Since the beginning of my education and career in behavior analysis, I've looked to the clinicians around me for guidance and mentorship. It is their unwavering dedication to the field and the population we serve at NECC that has inspired and motivated me over these past few years,” she said. “That my work is being recognized by this award is a direct reflection of the amazing supervisors, staff, and students I have had the honor of working with these past three years.” 

In addition to the recognition, Higgins received a financial award. 

One of NECC’s core values is to train and develop the next generation of autism educators and researchers.  Classes are held on-site at NECC.  Through NECC’s graduate school partnerships with Simmons and Western New England, NECC staff can earn a master’s degree in education or applied behavior analysis (ABA), either free of charge or at a heavily discounted rate.  

myrna e. libby, new england center for children, bridget higgins, simmons university, necc’s new castle, principal program architect, tireless advocate, western new england university, myrna libby