Austin was a Peace Corps Volunteer and worked in a rural farming village in the island nation of Dominica. During his time there, he witnessed the intergenerational nature of educational attainment play out in the classroom, and gained an intimate understanding of the challenges that families and schools face in an effort to educate their children. Austin was later awarded a $35,000 grant from the European Union, which he utilized to organize a team of teachers, nurses, and youth leaders to conduct workshops on family literacy, ICT, and household finance.
After serving in the Peace Corps, Austin joined Innovations for Poverty Action. During his time there, he worked on a project that sought to use food credit to break a poverty trap brought on by the interaction of seasonal food shortages with the credit and labor markets in East Zambia. He later led a team of 60 to manage the field operations of a USAID funded Child and Maternal Health project that sought to conduct impact evaluations in Uganda. His close work with the community leaders gave him a broad understanding of how a program could be designed in a way that was fair and helpful to the community.
At Goldman, Austin hopes to gain the skills necessary to analyze and manage tests of promising models for improving early childhood development. He aims to scale successful policies through rigorous, iterative evaluation and replication. Austin is utilizing his skills learned at GSPP toward his current job as a board member of the non-profit called Hands Across Sea, an organization which partners with schools in the East Caribbean to establish various libraries. As the chair of the committee on program design and evaluation, he is leading the effort to design and implement a monitoring, research, and evaluation system that he hopes will come online over the course of the upcoming year. Austin is also a GSI for UC Berkeley, teaching undergraduate seniors contemporary theories of political economy.
Austin graduated from the University of Michigan in 2008, with a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science.