Building Capacity to Collectively Prepare Students for College and Careers


Opening Plenary

9:00 – 9:50 a.m.

Keynote Speaker

Collaboration: The Key to Educational Success for All Students
John Austin, President, Michigan State Board of Education; Non-Resident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution


John Austin is a non-resident senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, as well as a State of Michigan elected official, re-elected in 2008 to his second term and elected by his peers as president of the Michigan State Board of Education. Mr. Austin currently directs the Michigan Economic Center at the Prima Civitas Foundation, where he advances a vision for Michigan's economic renewal and supports projects and initiatives that help Michigan realize that vision.

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. These reports led to federal support for Great Lakes clean-up and restoration, as well as 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 master's degree in public administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College in economics and political science, with High Honors and Phi Beta Kappa.


Ensuring Michigan students are college and career ready is not just the job of pre-college program leaders. We must come together as a community to collectively strengthen the assets and resources available for today's youth. John Austin will address how leaders in K-12, higher education, business, nonprofit, government and philanthropy can collectively prepare students to become productive and contributing citizens.