Lea J.E. Austin

Executive Director

Dr. Lea J.E. Austin is an expert on the U.S. early care and education system and its workforce. As Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley, she leads the Center’s research and policy agenda aimed at securing the well-being of our nation’s early educators. She has extensive experience in the areas of workforce compensation, preparation, working conditions, and racial equity, and most recently the effects of COVID-19 on the child care workforce. She is a co-author of numerous research and policy papers, including the Early Childhood Workforce Index, Racial Wage Gaps in Early Education Employment, and a multitude of policy statements and recommendations. Her interest in ECE workforce research, policy, and activism was spurred by her first job in the sector working with early educators at First 5 Alameda County (California) and later Mills College, where she developed leadership programs in higher education and community settings, and implemented professional development and advocacy initiatives. Dr. Austin earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from UC Berkeley, a master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University, Hayward, and a master’s degree and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Mills College. 

Dr. Austin is a lifelong Californian, and currently lives with her husband and twin boys in California’s Central Valley. In her free time, she loves catching up on all things baseball, especially when it’s related to her favorite team, the San Francisco Giants.