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Education Policy Fellowship Program

Renewing the Great Lakes Region

November 20, 2006
12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Kellogg Center, MSU

"Despite its long leadership in manufacturing and business, assets like major universities, and abundant natural amenities, the Great Lakes region's industrial legacy has left it struggling to develop the human capital, entrepreneurial culture, and dynamic metropolitan regions needed to compete in the global economy. This report examines the region's challenges, and calls for a new federal-state compact around a series of educational, economic, social, and infrastructure initiatives that can help the region reassert its global economic leadership."  With this just released Brookings Institution report as a backdrop, the Fellows will examine and consider the future of the Great Lakes region.

Resource Person:

Mr. John Austin  (EPFP 1991-92)
Brookings Institution
Metropolitan Policy Program
Nonresident Senior Fellow
jcaustin [at]

John Austin is a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institution, as well as a Michigan statewide elected official, serving as Vice-President of the Michigan State Board of Education.  Mr. Austin is also a Lecturer at the University of Michigan School of Architecture and Urban Planning, and Senior Fellow with the University of Michigan’s School of Education - National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good. 

Mr. Austin has over 20 years experience in political and public policy leadership.  Mr. Austin currently is leading a Great Lakes Economic Initiative for the Brookings Institution, designed to improve the economic vitality of the Great Lakes states.  Recently, Mr. Austin served as Policy Director for Michigan’s Governor-appointed Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth (the Cherry Commission) and was principal author of the Commission’s report. He co-authored the influential report Revitalizing Michigan Cities, with Michigan Future, Inc., and has helped Michigan’s Department of Labor and Economic Development to reshape Michigan’s economic, workforce and urban development agenda. Austin has worked with city and state governments, federal agencies and officials, as well as national foundations, corporations and labor organizations on a wide variety of public policy issues.

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. Mr. Austin is a Board Member of Michigan Common Cause, and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.

Austin received his Masters in Public Administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and a Bachelors from Swarthmore College in Economics & Political Science, Phi Beta Kappa.  Mr. Austin has been married 19 years to his wife Terese.  They and their three school-age children reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Resource Materials:

The Vital Center: A Federal-State Compact to Renew the Great Lakes Region (pdf)

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