Anthony Austin joined Southeast Youth & Family Services as Executive Director in 2017 with more than a decade of experience working with vulnerable kids and struggling parents.
Early on in his career, he taught kids who struggled in school, oftentimes spending most of the week trying to get them to a place where they were ready to learn, only for trauma or chaos at home to unravel them over the weekend.
Sometimes, students wouldn’t come to school because they had to take care of younger siblings. Parents came and went unpredictably.
After seven years of teaching, he realized that he wanted to do more, to make a deeper and more lasting impact on youth and families by working with them in the community.
He taught parenting classes in community centers and schools. At Children’s Home Society, he matched mentors with children who had an incarcerated parent.
At Therapeutic Health Services, he ran a UW-funded program called Focus on Families for parents coming out of recovery. Parents in the program learned basic how to reengage with their children, coping skills, and how to manage their responsibilities.
Anthony ran several other programs during his 10 years at Therapeutic Health Services, including counseling and support services for middle schoolers and homeless teens, and group golf and tennis lessons for youth and their parents.
“Family is my big thing,” Anthony says. “Your role and your identity in your family, the structure of your family, the wholeness of your family — all of those things are really important in the development of children.”
The second oldest of five siblings, Anthony grew up in the Rainier Valley and feels blessed to be leading an organization with such a longstanding commitment to helping youth and families overcome obstacles and thrive.
“Wanting to give families the opportunity to give their kids that space to develop and grow in a healthy manner — that’s what really drives me.”