austinj_portrait1John Austin, 46, is executive director of the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan (NEI) – a multi-year, multi-million effort on the part of Michigan and national foundations to support the transformation of the southeast Michigan economy.

Mr. Austin is also a nonresident senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, and vice president of the Michigan State Board of Education.  Mr. Austin has served as a lecturer in economic development at the University of Michigan.

Prior to being selected to head the New Economy Initiative, Mr. Austin served as director of the Great Lakes Economic Initiative for the Brookings Institution, designed to improve the economic vitality of Michigan and the Great Lakes states.  As part of this initiative, Mr. Austin authored several path-breaking reports on the future economy of the region, including:  The Vital Center: A Federal State Compact to Renew the Great Lakes Region, and The Vital Connection: Reclaiming Economic Leadership in the US and Canada, published by the Brookings Institution.

During recent years, Mr. Austin also served as policy director for Michigan’s Governor-appointed Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth (known as the Cherry Commission, named for its chair, Lt. Governor, John D. Cherry), was principal author of the Commission’s report, and supported the implementation of its recommendations.

He co-authored the influential report Revitalizing Michigan Cities, with Michigan Future, Inc., which led to Governor Granholm’s “Cool Cities” initiative, and has helped Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Development to reshape Michigan’s economic, workforce and urban development agenda.

Early in his career, Mr. Austin served as president of the Flint Roundtable, a multi-sector CEO leadership organization in Genesee County, Michigan focused on regional education reform, where he developed nationally recognized education programs.  In addition, he was chairman of the Genesee County Road Commission.  Prior to settling in Michigan, Mr. Austin served as a special assistant to Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, and on the staff of the Massachusetts Secretary of Economic Affairs.

In 2007, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed Mr. Austin to the Midwestern Higher Education Compact board.

Austin received his master’s degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and a bachelor of arts degree from Swarthmore College in economics and political science, Phi Beta Kappa.  Mr. Austin has been married 20 years to his wife Terese.  They have three school-age children.