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.