Rev. Dr. Richard Austin, J.D.
Rev. Dr. Richard Austin, Esq., is a retired attorney, CEO and ordained minister. He served as General Counsel to his alma mater, Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio 1974-1985. He was the first CSU graduate and first Black attorney to serve as General Counsel of a state university in the state of Ohio. Also, Austin was one of the founders, along with Judge Bill C. Littlejohn (CSU 69), of the law firm, Austin, Jones, Littlejohn & Owens, LLP, (1979-1986), which was one of the premier law firms in the state of Ohio in the early 1980’s.
Austin was born in Middletown, Ohio, on March 6, 1943. He grew up in Dayton, Ohio, where he received his early education in the Dayton Public School System, where he was an outstanding scholar and athlete at Paul Lawrence Dunbar Hight School. He received a track scholarship to Central State University (CSU), Wilberforce, Ohio, where he received a B.S. in Education, 1965. He received a Ford Foundation scholarship to Howard University, School of Law, where he received the J.D. degree in 1969. He received a M.S. degree in Community Economic Development in 1991 at Southwestern New Hampshire University, Graduate School of Business (formerly New Hampshire College). He also attended The Ohio State University, School of Law (Summer semester, 1968) and the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio (1977-1979).
Attorney Austin was the Executive Director/CEO of Legal Services of the Virgin Islands, Inc., (LSVI), where he was employed in various management positions for 33 years (1985-2018). He retired March 15, 2018. He served as Managing Attorney/St. Croix office, agency-wide Litigation Director (1985-1998) and as the Executive Director/CEO for 20 years (1998-2018). During his executive tenure he increased the agency annual budget threefold to a high of two million dollars and an average annual budget of 1.5 million dollars. Under his administration, LSVI enjoyed fiscal competence and integrity as evidenced by an unqualified annual audit by an Independent Public CPA firm. He directed the construction of a new office complex on St. Thomas and the total renovation of the St. Croix office. Both with state-of-the-art law offices facilities, including video conferencing. These buildings have a total value of over 4.5 million dollars. Under his leadership LSVI maintained the stellar position of providing high quality civil legal assistance to its client population and is still known as the “Equal Justice Advocate” in the Virgin Islands.
In addition to his positions at Legal Services, he has taught at the University of the Virgin Islands and served on the panel of Arbitrators of the Virgin Islands Public Employee’s Board. He is admitted to practice law in Ohio (1969), the U.S. Virgin Islands (Special Admission 1985)) and before the U.S. Third and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeal, U.S. Tax Court and the United States Supreme Court.
Prior to moving to St. Croix, US Virgin Islands in 1985, Austin was in private law practice in Dayton, Ohio for 16 years. He was in a solo practice of law for several years following his admission to the Ohio Bar in May, 1969. He was in an office sharing arrangement with Attorney Arthur D. Jackson (1971-1973); Attorney J. Barnard Carter (1973-1977); and a partnership with Attorney Taylor Jones, Jr. (1977- 1979). Attorney Austin was one of the founders of the law firm, Austin, Jones, Littlejohn & Owens, LLP, (1979-1986) along with Attorneys Taylor Jones, Jr., Bill C. Littlejohn and Alverene Owens. The firm was one of the premier law firms in the state of Ohio in the early nineteen eighties. He was Special Counsel to the Ohio Attorney General, handling Unemployment Compensation appeals 1973-1985 and General Counsel to his alma mater, Central State University 1974-1985. He was the first Black attorney to serve as General Counsel of a state university in the state of Ohio. He also served as Hearing Officer and Advisor to the City of Dayton, Ohio, Civil Service Board 1975-1985; and as an Acting Dayton Municipal Court Judge for many years. Also, Austin was a prominent civil rights attorney and served as local legal counsel for the Dayton Branch, NAACP (1971-1985), which included the Dayton School Desegregation Case, Gilligan v. Brinkman.
Attorney Austin has always been active in civic, religious and community activities. He served as President of the Dayton Branch, NAACP, and was the youngest person elected to that position at the time and was the first President to serve more than two terms (1976-1985). He was a founder and officer of the Citizens Cable Corporation, Dayton, Ohio, which was one of the first minority groups to get a cable TV franchise in the USA. He is a member of the Prince Hall Freemasonry (32nd Degree), Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity; and Life Member of the NAACP, Central State University General Alumni Association and National Bar Association.
He was one of the founders of the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development and the Men’s Coalition of the Virgin Islands (a domestic violence batter’s education program). He also served on the Board of Directors of the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital Foundation; Virgin Islands Legal Assistance Foundation (IOLTA Program); Camp Arawak Youth Training Program and the Virgin Islands Judicial Council.
Austin is an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church and served as pastor of the Beulah AME Zion Church, Estate Bethlehem, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, for 18 years (2000-2018). He has served as an elected lay and ministerial delegate at five (5) Sessions of the General Conference; as Treasurer and Trustee of the Virgin Islands Annual Conference for many years; and as a legal counsel in the development and adoption of the Policies and Procedures Concerning Sexual Misconduct. He is presently a Superannuated Minister in good standing in the VI Annual Conference; and holds the positions of Conference Evangelist and Annual Conference Trustee. Also, he was elected to be a Member of the Judicial Council of the AME Zion Church, at the 51st Quadrennial General Conference in 2021. This is a General Officer’s position in the worldwide AME Zion church denomination.
Austin received many honors and awards, including being selected the Dayton Junior Chamber of Commerce “Man of the Year” in 1973; a citation from President Bill Clinton for Outstanding Community Service; the Distinguished Leadership Award from the African American Project Directors and a Forty Years of Legal Services Award from the Legal Service Corporation. He was a track and cross-country standout at Dayton Dunbar High School; and received an athletic scholarship to Central State University, where he was a member of the 1963 NCAA cross country championship team. The team was inducted into the CSU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Reverend- Attorney Austin is well traveled, having traveled to all of the continents except Antarctica, including Western and South Africa, Egypt, Asia, South and Central America, Europe, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, many islands in the Caribbean and 44 of the 50 states of the USA. He has contributed many articles and publications and made presentations and lectures before local, national and international organizations on the following topics: cable television development; school desegregation; waste management and environment issues; low and moderate income housing development; community economic development, minority business development; civil rights and human liberties issues; domestic violence intervention; restorative justice and; poverty law issues; And he has preached the gospel of Jesus the Christ in many churches and venues throughout the world.
Reverend-Attorney Austin is married to his wife of 28 years, Noelia Barreras Austin (Nolly), and has two adult daughters, Stephanie Kate (CSU 93) and Alison Estelle (CSU 97), by his CSU college sweetheart and first wife, Maxine A. Williams Austin (CSU 67), now deceased; and one granddaughter, Sydney Maxine. His deceased mother, Alice Grace Bloodsaw Austin (CSU 75) was a major factor in establishing strong moral values; a sense of fairness to all; and a strong work ethic in him. He considers his legal advocacy for the poor and other disadvantaged people and his clergy ministries to be a lifelong endeavor. Nolly and Richard are dividing their time between Dayton, Ohio and St. Croix, USVI and living out their “bucket list”, including traveling, visiting friends and family; cooking health foods, exercising and trying to stay healthy. All to the glory of God.