Hibbett Neel, PE
Chief Executive Officer
Hibbett co-founded Neel-Schaffer in 1983 and serves as the firm’s President and Chief Executive Officer. He leads the seven-person Board of Directors that is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the firm, and he is also a member of the firm’s Senior Advisory Committee.
With 50-plus years of engineering experience, Hibbett believes in putting the client first, which is why he has focused on maintaining a personal connection with clients while growing the company into a regional firm that now operates 36 offices across nine states.
While this growth helped his firm reach 206th in 2021 on Engineering News-Record’s prestigious list of the nation’s Top 500 Design firms, Hibbett’s No. 1 goal has always been for the firm to serve clients on a local, personal level, by improving the quality of life in the communities in which the employees live, work, and play. That means striving to help municipalities thrive.
An example of Hibbett’s passion for his clients came in 2013, when the City of Jackson (MS) presented a 1-cent sales tax referendum to its citizens, with the money earmarked to help fund critical infrastructure improvements. Hibbett volunteered his time, data, and materials while working closely with Jackson’s mayor and his staff to present information regarding infrastructure needs during public meetings held in each of the City’s seven wards in advance of the historic vote.
The meetings were held from October 2013 through January 2014. Hibbett spoke at each meeting, providing data, and answering questions. He also carried with him a section of old, corroded cast iron water pipe that was removed from under a downtown Jackson street, giving citizens an up-close look at a real-world problem facing the City.
The referendum passed overwhelmingly, with 90 percent in favor.
Hibbett’s commitment to the community is one of the pillars on which he built the firm. He is actively involved in local community affairs and is serving or has served on numerous boards, including Catholic Charities, Citizens Southwest, Community Foundation of Greater Jackson, Jackson State University School of Engineering, Jackson 2000, Jackson Association of Neighborhoods, Keep Jackson Beautiful, Leadership Jackson, Metro Jackson Chamber of Commerce, and Mississippi Blood Services.
In January 2016, Hibbett was honored by the Mississippi Business Journal, which named him one of Mississippi’s top CEOs for 2015. In April 2016, he was honored by the Deep South Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), which presented him with its inaugural Private Sector Achievement Award during the group’s Annual Meeting in Nashville. In June 2016, at the DSITE’s Summer meeting in Biloxi (MS), Hibbett was honored again, this time receiving the President’s Award. And in January 2018, Hibbett was honored again by ITE, when that international organization named him as an Honorary Member. Honorary Membership is the highest recognition of notable and outstanding professional achievement presented by ITE, which has 17,000 members worldwide. Only 80 members have received Honorary Member status since 1933.
Hibbett has received numerous other professional recognitions, including the 2014 Goodwill Industries Volunteer Service Award; the 2012 American Council of Engineering Companies Teddy Roosevelt Award; the 2011 ITE Burton W. Marsh Award for Distinguished Service; and the 2010 Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership Mississippi-Pat Yarborough Community Service Award.
In 1990, recognizing there was an alarming lack of minority engineers in private practice, Hibbett started a minority scholarship program aimed at helping more minorities enter the engineering field. The firm has since awarded more than $300,000 in minority scholarships and earned national recognition from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which in 2004 awarded Neel-Schaffer with its National Diversity Champion Award. The scholarship program has been a big success, with eight recipients joining Neel-Schaffer upon graduation. two are currently employed by the firm as engineers.
Hibbett has been a longtime member of and advocate for ITE, an organization that “facilitates the application of technology and scientific principles to research, planning, functional design, implementation, operation, policy development, and management for any mode of ground transportation.”
In 2014, Hibbett served as the International President of this prestigious organization. Through his travels, he has gained a great appreciation for sustainable design techniques and how they can be used to transform a city. This includes the ‘Complete Streets’ concept, which Neel-Schaffer employed in designing the reconstruction of Capitol Street in downtown Jackson.
Hibbett is responsible for all activities of the firm, which offers multiple disciplines and has offices located throughout the South. This includes overall management, direction and corporate planning.
Hibbett is committed to growing the company strategically while practicing the utmost ethical and responsible business practices. He has special expertise in the areas of design and management of public works projects. His responsibilities have ranged from management of individual traffic and transportation projects to development and management of major branch office projects, involving water, wastewater, parks, transportation, and community development.