Leah Meyer Austin

Former Senior Vice President, Lumina Foundation for Education

Leah Meyer Austin retired in 2008 as senior vice president for research and programs at Lumina Foundation for Education, a national philanthropic enterprise located in Indianapolis. At Lumina, she was responsible for grantmaking, strategic planning and research to enable more people from all walks of life to attend and complete postsecondary education and training. As the designer of the Achieving the Dream initiative, she sought and obtained Lumina Foundation’s Board original investment in the program.

Before joining Lumina’s executive team, Leah was employed by and retired from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, an international philanthropic organization based in Battle Creek, Michigan. There she made grants and designed philanthropic initiatives to benefit young people, especially those who faced barriers to their intellectual, physical, social and psychological development. She founded a national educational program, Middle Start, which works with middle schools to improve young adolescents’ learning and achievement. She was also responsible for designing Able to Play, a movement to develop playgrounds for children of all abilities across Michigan and other states.

In recognition of her establishment of Achieving the Dream, a movement to help students succeed in community colleges, the American Association for Community Colleges honored her with the Harry S Truman Award for Distinguished Service. Lumina’s Board of Trustees also honored her with the Leah Meyer Austin Award, an annual recognition of an Achieving the Dream college for its progress in increasing student attainment.

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