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Lasell Vice President of Student Affairs Named President of Project STEP Board

September 26, 2017

Boston, MA - Project STEP (String Training Education Program) welcomes new Board President Diane M. Austin.

Diane Austin, Lasell's Vice President for Student Affairs

Austin has been a member of the Project STEP Board of Directors since 2012. She is in her 23rd year at Lasell College (Newton, MA) where she is the Vice President of Student Affairs. Prior to that position, Austin worked at Bentley University for 18 years: eight years in the Office of Counseling and Student Development; and ten years serving as a student development administrator. Austin earned both her B.A. in English and her M.S. in Counseling from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, where she was honored as a Distinguished Visiting Alumna (2004). A frequent member of regional accrediting teams for institutions of higher education, in her 44 years working in higher education, she has made in excess of 125 professional presentations, and has worked as a consultant to various college and university campuses. A long-time subscriber to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Austin is an Overseer Emerita of the BSO, having served as an Overseer for the maximum of 12 years; she also served for three years as the President of the Boston Symphony Association of Volunteers. She is the Immediate Past President of the SUNY Plattsburgh Alumni Association; and she recently joined the Board of the Bidwell House Museum (Monterey, MA).

"Project STEP is positioned for another extraordinary year of growth and excellence. As we spend time this year developing our next strategic plan, we will undoubtedly be considering ways in which to ensure the financial future of Project STEP, even as we challenge ourselves to further deepen our commitment to our mission. Our community of students, families, educators, and Board members stands as a beacon in a time when the arts face many threats, and the fabric of our diverse nation can feel like it is under siege - and I'm so very proud to be a part of this community,"   said Austin.

Project STEP is a leader among music organizations that is changing the face of the classical music profession. Recognizing that certain racial and ethnic minorities are vastly underrepresented in classical music, Project STEP's mission is to address this imbalance by identifying musically talented children from underrepresented Boston and surrounding communities, providing them with comprehensive music and string instrument instruction. Setting the highest standards for its students, this kindergarten to college program provides mentoring and performance opportunities and creates a life-long network of support for students and their families. Students receive comprehensive training while simultaneously learning life-skills that provide them with the tools to flourish in their careers. Since Project STEP's founding in1982, 100% of students who have graduated from the program have gone on to college or conservatory.   In 2014, Project STEP received the highest honor for an out-of-school program when it was presented with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program award from the President's Council on the Arts and Humanities. The award was presented to Project STEP in Washington, D.C. by First Lady Michelle Obama. Since this honor was bestowed upon the organization, STEP has seen tremendous growth in visibility and has been an advocate and avenue for change in the industry.