Black History Month Spotlight: Austin Faison, Town Manager, Town of Winthrop, MA.

Zencity

Zencity

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This month at Zencity we’re celebrating the Black civic leaders we have the honor to work with on a daily basis.  

Austin’s fate in local government was sealed in the 5th grade when he played the part of Benjamin Franklin in a class debate. Growing up in New England, Austin says there was always an “omnipresent government feel” but it wasn’t until much later in life that he actually became a public servant. After negotiating a career between professional sports and political campaigns, Austin decided to pursue his MPA. It was during grad school that it became clear to Austin that he was destined to be a city manager.

“I wanted to work in municipal government because of the intimacy of the impact. I like the idea of being able to fix things at the ground level. I like the idea of really helping people out.”

With his eye on the prize, Austin began his local government career in 2012 as an analyst in the City of Somerville, Massachusetts. In six short years, he reached his target as Winthrop, MA’s, Town Manager.

“I’ve always been good at project managing and getting things done. I set being a town manager as something I wanted to do and that was it. From there on, it was about what jobs would help me progress to get where I wanted to go.“

When Austin joined Winthrop in 2018, he had three goals in mind: professionalization of services, transparency, and fixing the budget. In under three years he can proudly say: “I’ve done those three things.” Austin is driven by processes and data. “I don’t shoot off my hip, I don’t go by my gut. I go off of the data and information. If I don’t know something, I call someone and figure it out. I research it online.” But throughout it all, what drives Austin is to improve and do better, and this is also the ethos he tries to impart on all his staff:

“If you aren’t continuously trying to learn and do things better, then what drives you to do what you’re doing in the first place?”

Today, Austin, who is in his late thirties, sits on coalitions and advisory boards with his former bosses and nationally recognized leaders like Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. “It still blows my mind,” he says. “I’ve had to learn how to get over my imposter syndrome.”

In the years to come, Austin remains driven and forward-thinking. In this next decade, especially after a year like 2020, he’d like to spend some time seeing some of the “longer term stuff” coming to fruition while he continues to engage in work that has a positive impact.

At Zencity, we’re also excited to work with and be inspired by an incredible and driven professional like Austin.