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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, middle school teacher, school counselor, outdoor educator, nonprofit administrator, and university instructor. She came to Lesley University in 2011 after teaching for 7 years in the Risk and Prevention Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. For 25 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 frequently consults rural school and community programs that address social, emotional, and economic barriers to success for children and youth. Her work in the northernmost part of New Hampshire continues as the Inventing the Future Project – a project that strengthens the capacity of schools and communities to guide low-income young people toward higher education and good careers.

About her on-going community work, Dr. San Antonio says, "I enjoy working across diverse sectors of the community and 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, Dr. San Antonio values working to create a classroom community that offers a high level of active critical reflection and dialogue. She enjoys being outdoors, especially hiking, biking, canoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. 

Research interests include developmental transitions for adolescents and emerging adults; rural education; social class and education/career opportunity; experiential education; adventure therapy; school-based mentoring; school climate and social-emotional development; cross-role and cross-institutional collaboration; cross-cultural ethnographic research; and community and school-based participatory action research for social change.  

Dr. San Antonio 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 is the Coordinator of the UNESCO-UNITWIN Project on Lifelong Career for the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences.


Selected Publications

San Antonio, D. M., Aisenson, G., Cohen-Scali, V. (Eds.) (Forthcoming 2021). The labor of emerging adults in international settings: A call for critical praxis in a time of widening economic injustice. Special Issue of Emerging Adulthood.

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

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. (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. (2016) "I got grand things in me and America won't give me nothing":Constructing and resisting a standard American identity."  The Ethical Turn: Otherness and Subjectivity in Contemporary Psychoanalysis.  Routledge Press.

Tieken, M. & San Antonio, D.M. (Co-editors) (2016, May) Rural futures: Supporting youth aspirations and sustaining the promise of public education. Peabody Journal of Education

San Antonio, D. M. (2016, May).  The Complex decision-making processes of rural emerging adults: Counseling beyond dualisms.  Peabody Journal of Education.

San Antonio, D., Hoang, T., & Levy, C. (2015).  Changing lives: A developmental approach to college counseling.  Pedagogy, Pluralism, and Practice, Vol. 7, Issue 1.  

San Antonio, D., 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.

San Antonio, D. (2008). Understanding students’ strengths and struggles. Educational Leadership, Vol. 65, No. 7. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

San Antonio, D. & 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.

San Antonio, D. (May 2007). Making the transition to middle school. Middle Matters. Vol. 15, No. 5. 

San Antonio, D. (April 2006). Broadening the world of early adolescents. Educational Leadership, Vol. 63, No. 7. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. 
(Chosen as one of 8 best articles in 2005-06 for a special end-of-year publication.)

Yamada, S. & San Antonio, D. (2006). Toward a common understanding: A method for organizing terminology in the field of adventure therapy. Conference Proceedings for the 4th International Adventure Therapy Conference. Rotorua, New Zealand.

San Antonio, D. (2004). Adolescent lives in transition: How social class influences the adjustment to middle school. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.


Roundtable Discussion: Engaging the Unconscious in School Counseling with Adolescents.
American Counseling Association National Conference, San Francisco, CA, March 18, 2017

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. 

Social Class Influences in Education
Guest speaker at NH Phi Delta Kappa meeting, Tilton, NH, March 2009.

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.

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.

The Impact of Trauma on Child Development and Learning 
Community presentations in Laconia and Wolfeboro, Spring 2008.


Ed.D., Administration, Planning, and Social Policy, Harvard University
C.A.S., Human Development and Psychology, Harvard University
Ed.M., International Education, Harvard University
M.Ed., Counseling, University of New Hampshire
B.A., Sociology, University of New Hampshire

Licensed School Psychologist and School Guidance Counselor