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Donna San Antonio

Professor of Counseling and Psychology

Donna San Antono

Donna Marie San Antonio has worked as a community organizer, teacher in grades 7-12, school counselor, outdoor educator-counselor, nonprofit administrator, and university instructor. She came to Lesley University in 2011 after teaching for 8 years in the Risk and Prevention Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. For 26 years, she directed the Appalachian Mountain Teen Project, an activity-based counseling program that she founded in 1984 to serve low-income and struggling youth in central and northern New Hampshire. 

Dr. San Antonio’s research and practice focus on understanding and supporting social, emotional, and physical wellness during adolescence and emerging adulthood. She has published on topics including developmental transitions for rural adolescents and emerging adults; the influence of social class and trauma in life course design and aspiration; experiential education/adventure-based counseling; school-based and workplace mentoring; school climate and social-emotional development; cross-role and cross-institutional collaboration; and community and school-based participatory action research for social change. Her current research projects include an exploration into the lifelong impact of therapeutic adventure activities during adolescence, and an auto-ethnography on how schools and communities in low-income rural areas support the social integration and well-being of migrant youth and families.  

Dr. San Antonio collaborates with international practitioners and researchers on urgent issues in school and community counseling. She frequently consults with school and community programs seeking to address cultural and economic barriers to success. She serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Experiential Education and is a Founding Member of the International Society of Policy, Research and Evaluation in School Counseling. She coordinates Lesley University’s affiliation with the UNESCO-UNITWIN Project on Lifelong Career. 

About her on-going community work, Dr. San Antonio says, "I believe in involving youth as active participants in addressing issues that threaten their well-being, such as poverty, racism, trauma, sexism, and homophobia.” As a classroom instructor and community activist, Dr. San Antonio works to create contexts that offer a high level of active critical reflection and dialogue. She enjoys hiking, biking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.   


Selected Publications

San Antonio, D. M., Martel, J., Weisbart, C. (Autumn 2021). Cross-age peer mentoring in a low-income rural community: A 20-year retrospective on a school-community partnership. All About Mentoring, Issue 55, 47-54. https://www.esc.edu/media/ocgr/publications-presentations/all-about-mentoring/AAM-55_FullIssue_AccessibleVersionKLaB.pdf  

San Antonio, D. M., Aisenson, G., Cohen-Scali, V. (Eds.) (2021). The labor of emerging adults in international settings: A call for critical praxis in a time of widening economic injustice. Emerging Adulthood.  https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/21676968211025345?ai=3i3&ui=r79b&af=T 

San Antonio, D. M. & Kaplan-Bucciarelli, J. (2020). Possibility and constraint in the lives of young rural workers in the US: The Psychology of Working and post-trauma vocational trajectories. Emerging Adulthood. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2167696820957812  

San Antonio, D. M. & Gorelick, N. (2020). Making space for the adolescent unconscious: A case-based reflection on practice.  International Journal of Psychology and Counselling, 12(1), 13-21. https://academicjournals.org/journal/IJPC/article-full-text-pdf/128F78E63062 

San Antonio, D. M. (2020). “Truly my heart’s work”: Rural emerging adults constructing meaningful lives. In S. Motulsky, J. Gammel, A. Rutstein-Riley (Eds.). (2020). Identity and lifelong learning: Becoming through life experience. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc. https://www.infoagepub.com/products/Identity-and-Lifelong-Learning-Becoming-Through-Lived-Experience  

San Antonio, D. M., Weisbart, C., Martel, J. (2020). Perceptions of mentors and mentees in school-based cross-age peer mentoring in a low-income rural school. Journal of Child and Youth Care Work.  http://acycpjournal.pitt.edu/ojs/jcycw/issue/current 

Rossier, J., Aisenson, G., Chhabra, M…San Antonio, D. M. (2019). Lifelong learning, counseling, and life designing to promote sustainable careers for all. In Humanistic futures of Learning: Perspectives from the UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks, pp. 189-195. UNESCO Futures of Education Project.  

San Antonio, D. M. (December 2018). Collaborative action research to implement social-emotional learning in a rural elementary school: Helping students become little kids with big words. Canadian Journal of Action Research, 19(2), 26-47. https://journals.nipissingu.ca/index.php/cjar/article/view/384 

San Antonio, D. M. (August 2018). Integrating life course design in adult education. In Explorations in adult education, 5, 86-91. https://www.esc.edu/media/Occasional-Paper-Series-V-8-3-2018_CompleteVersion_FullyAccessible_FINAL_SH090418.pdf 

San Antonio, D. M. (December 2017/January 2018). Helping students grieve. Educational Leadership, 75(4) Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec17/vol75/num04/Helping-Students-Grieve.aspx 

San Antonio, D. M.  (June 2016). “I got grand things in me and America won’t let me give nothing”:  Constructing and resisting a standard American identity. In D. M. Goodman & E. R. Severson, The Ethical Turn: Otherness and Subjectivity in Contemporary Psychoanalysis. New York, NY: Routledge Press. 

San Antonio, D. M. (May 2016).  The complex decision-making processes of rural emerging adults: Counseling beyond dualisms. Peabody Journal of Education, 91(2), 246-269. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0161956X.2016.1151749?scroll=top&needAccess=true&journalCode=hpje20  

Tieken, M. C. & San Antonio, D.M. (Co-editors) (May 2016). Rural Futures: Supporting Youth Aspirations and Sustaining the Promise of Public Education. Peabody Journal of Education, 91(2). https://peabody.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/pje/pje_volume_91_issue_2_2016/  

Tieken, M. C. & San Antonio, D.M. (May 2016). Rural aspirations, rural futures: From “problem” to possibility. Peabody Journal of Education, 91(2), 131-136. https://peabody.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/pje/pje_volume_91_issue_2_2016/  

San Antonio, D., *Hoang, T., & *Levy, C.  (Fall 2015). Changing lives: A developmental approach to college counseling. Pedagogy, pluralism, and practice. Cambridge, MA: Lesley University. https://digitalcommons.lesley.edu/jppp/vol7/iss1/4/ 

San Antonio, D. M., *Marcel, E., *Tieken, M., & *Wiener, K (2011, April). Lives in transition: What students say. Educational Leadership Online, Vol. 68, No. 7. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr11/vol68/num07/Lives-in-Transition@-What-Students-Say.aspx 

San Antonio, D. M.  (April 2008). Understanding students’ strengths and struggles. Educational Leadership, Vol. 65, No. 7. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr08/vol65/num07/Understanding-Students'-Strengths-and-Struggles.aspx 

San Antonio, D. M. & *Salzfass, E. (May 2007). How we treat one another in school. Educational Leadership, Vol. 64, No. 8.  Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may07/vol64/num08/How-We-Treat-One-Another-in-School.aspx     

San Antonio, D. M. (April 2006). Broadening the world of early adolescents. Educational Leadership, Vol. 63, No. 7.  Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.  http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr06/vol63/num07/Broadening-the-World-of-Early-Adolescents.aspx    

San Antonio, D. M. (2004). Adolescent lives in transition: How social class influences the adjustment to middle school.  Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. http://www.sunypress.edu/p-3909-adolescent-lives-in-transition.aspx 


On the Move: Migration, Radical Integration, and Transformation Through Connection. Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes, Tamworth, NH. July 10, 2022. 

Widening the Space for Compassion. Guest Celebrant. Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes, Tamworth, NH. October 4, 2020. 

Becoming a White Ally: Stories of Mentoring Toward Social Justice. Keynote Speaker at Martin Luther King Day Celebration.  Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes, Tamworth, NH. January 27, 2019. 

Trauma and Life Course Planning in Emerging Adulthood: Healing Conditions that Support Aspiration and Hope. International Scientific Seminar: Life Designing Interventions. Lausanne, Switzerland, March 6, 2020.  

Precarious Work Lives of Rural Emerging Adults in the U.S.: Post-Trauma Trajectories Toward Fulfilling a Dream. Symposium Presentation, International Conference of the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood, Toronto, CN. October 12, 2019. 

Cross-age Peer Mentoring: Building a Sense of Belonging and Future Aspiration in a Low-Income Rural Community. Panel Presentation. International Association of Counselling Conference.  Pomezia, Italy. September 23, 2018. 

Narratives of Possibility and Constraint in the Work Lives of Disadvantaged Rural Emerging Adults. Panel Presentation.  International Conference of Applied Psychology. Montreal, Canada. June 29, 2018. 

“Truly My Heart’s Work”: How Rural, Low-income Youth Invent the Future in Meaningful Ways. Panel Presentation. Counseling and Support: Decent Work, Equity, and Inclusion.  Padova, Italy.  October 6, 2017. 

Learning to Talk with One Another: Cross-disciplinary Collaborative Consultation for Students with Social and Emotional Challenges. (Workshop Co-Facilitator with Lisa Fiore).  Educational Practices for Care and Wellness. Verona, Italy. October 14, 2017. 

 Making Space for the Adolescent Unconscious. Presenter and Facilitator, Roundtable Discussion. American Counseling Association National Conference.  San Francisco, CA, March 18, 2017. 

Clinical Case Presentation: Engaging with the Unconscious in School Counseling with Adolescents. Clinical Cases Seminar in Lacanian Psychoanalysis. Groupe interdisciplinaire freudien de recherches et d’interventions cliniques et culturelles. Quebec City, CN, June 7, 2016. 

Psychoanalysis and Adolescence. Panel presentation and discussant. Psychology and the Other Conference, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA. October 2015.  
Collaborative Developmental School Counseling: How to Build a School-Wide Approach. 
Co-presenter with Lisa Fiore. International Association for Counseling Conference, Verona, Italy, September 4-6, 2015 
Navigating multiple ecologies in the transition to adulthood in rural places. Academic Symposium: Transition to Adulthood: National and International Concerns and Promising Directions, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA. March 27, 2015. 
San Antonio, D. & Trantham, S. Facilitating Experiential Learning in Psychology Courses. Northeast Conference for Teachers of Psychology, Bates College, ME. October 17, 2014. 
I got grand things in me and America won’t let me give nothing: Constructing and Resisting a Standard American Identity. Invited speaker, Psychology and the Other Conference, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA. October 2013.  
Inventing the Future: Sustaining Hope, Searching for Purpose in the Transition from Adolescence to Adulthood. 
International Conference on Life Designing and Career Counseling, University of Padova, Padova, Italy, June 2013. 
Strength and Struggle in the Lives of Emerging Adults: What They Teach Us About Support and Guidance. 
Lesley University Community of Scholars Conference. Cambridge, MA. March 2013. 
Effective Cross Disciplinary Teaming. 17th Annual National Conference on Advancing School Mental Health. Salt Lake City, UT, October 26, 2012. 
Making Your School a Great Place for Everyone: Looking at School Culture and Climate. 7th Annual APEX Summer Leadership Institute, UNH Institute on Disabilities, August 16, 2012. 
Contrasting perspectives on immigration then and now. Symposium on Immigration: Centennial Anniversary of the 1912 Strike. Lawrence, MA. April 28, 2012.  
Rural Education: Regional Challenges, Promising Solutions. Panelist with Cynthia Mil Duncan, Francisco Guajardo, Leroy Johnson, and Rachel Tompkins, Askwith Education Forum, Harvard Graduate School of Education, April 2008. 

Social Class and Social Service: Are We Helping or Harming? Workshop presentation at the Diversity Conference of Casey Family Services, January 2006. Statewide professional development for social workers with Casey Family Services, March 2006. 
Participatory Action Research: Bridging the Research-Practice Gap. Moderator for panel discussion with Michelle Fine, Julio Cammarota, Veronica Garcia, Jessica Madden-Fuoco, Askwith Education Forum, Harvard Graduate School of Education, April 2006. 

Pockets of Hope: The Nexus of Feminist and Critical Theory Panel Presentation, National Women’s Studies Association Conference, Boston, MA, June 2000.

Forming and Sustaining Relationships in Qualitative Research with Children Panel Presentation with Mary Haywood Metz as discussant, Qualitative Research Conference Harvard Graduate School of Education, November 1999.


Ed.D., Harvard University, Administration, Planning, and Social Policy, Community Education and Lifelong Learning,  
C.A.S., Harvard University, Human Development and Psychology, Adolescent Risk and Prevention 
Ed.M., Harvard University, International Education 
M.Ed., University of New Hampshire, School Counseling   
B.A., University of New Hampshire, Sociology   
Licensed School Psychologist and School Guidance Counselor