John Austin, 50, directs the Michigan Economic Center at Prima Civitas Foundation, www.MiEconomicCenter.com, a center for ideas and network-building to advance Michigan’s economic transformation. He is also a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institution, and a Michigan statewide elected official, re-elected in 2008 to his second-term, and elected by his peers to be President of the Michigan State Board of Education.
In recent years, Austin created and directed the Great Lakes Economic Initiative for the Brookings Institution where he authored key Brookings reports that directly shaped the region’s economic development agenda: “The Vital Center: A Federal-State Compact to Renew the Great Lakes Region;” “The Vital Connection: Reclaiming Great Lakes Economic Leadership in the Bi-National Great Lakes Region;” and “Healthy Waters, Strong Economy” (See www.brookings.edu/projects/great-lakes.aspx) led to federal support for Great Lakes clean-up and restoration, and regional understanding and actions to build on our Great Lakes and water resources as an economic asset, the “Blue Economy”, a term Austin coined.
Mr. Austin also served as Policy Director for Michigan’s Governor-appointed Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth, and was principal author of the Commission’s influential report. He was the founding Director of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan—a $100 million effort by the region’s philanthropies to aid in the area’s economic transformation, and initiated the Global Detroit program to welcome immigrants as a source of economic strength and renewal.
Austin received his Masters in Public Administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and a Bachelors from Swarthmore College in Economics & Political Science, with High Honors and Phi Beta Kappa. Mr. Austin has been married 25 years to his wife Terese. They and their three children reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan.