Lorena Austin is a 5th generation Arizonan whose lifelong love for advocacy and leadership has been rooted in Mesa for almost a century. For over twenty years, Austin’s grandparents owned and operated Albert’s Market in Mesa, which served all residents including minorities residing in segregated neighborhoods. They were well known in Mesa for serving on community boards that advocated for equity and inclusion. Her father went on to become a small business owner and civil rights attorney, known for building relationships and creating community organizations. Lorena currently works alongside her father in hopes of continuing the advancement of communities in Mesa.
While Austin’s father’s family has deep roots within Mesa, Lorena spent part of her childhood living with her mother in central California. There, Austin’s family experienced financial hardship that resulted in living in Section 8 housing for a period of time while her mother returned to school to complete her degree in Social Work. Lorena’s family worked hard to ensure Lorena and her siblings were taken care of to the best of their abilities. This desire to work comes from both sides of her family as both her father’s and mother’s family include farm workers. It is this strong work ethic to get things done for her community that drives Lorena today.
Lorena's Tata, Albert "Beto" Austin, in his work truck, Albert's Market in Mesa 1950's.
Lorena's great-grandparents who lived in Pinal County in the 1860's
Austin proudly graduated from Mesa Community College ("MCC") as an honor student and student body president. She went on to graduate from the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University with a degree in Chicano/a Latino/a Studies, where she focused on U.S. & Mexican Regional Immigration Policy and Economy and obtained a certificate in Cross-Sector Leadership. Austin graduated Summa Cum Laude and was awarded the prestigious Dean's Medal for her academic and co-curricular achievements at Arizona State University ("ASU"). While at ASU, Lorena was chosen as a Congressman Ed Pastor Spirit of Service Scholar, a Next Generation Service Corps Member, and PULSE Scholar. She also received the Chicano/Latino Faculty & Staff Association Roberto L. Pastor Student Leader Award and the Congressman Ed Pastor Civic Leadership Medallion.
Austin has experience working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. She worked with Verizon’s Innovative Learning Program, which brought advanced technology and curriculum to Title 1 schools across the country. As a project manager at the Maricopa County Community College District (“MCCCD”), she designed the Maricopa Student Senate developed to enhance the voice of students from each of the ten individual colleges and placed a student on the MCCCD Governing Board for the first time in the District’s history. She also served as an Advisor for Anytown Arizona Leadership Camp.
As a Mesa native, Austin has been a steadfast supporter of her community as evidenced by her local volunteer activities with the United Food Bank in Mesa and her intense involvement in COVID-19 support to Indigenous communities located in the Navajo Nation. She currently serves as a Student Government Advisor at her beloved alma mater, Mesa Community College, where she serves as a model of advocacy for her students.