Dr. Karisa Antonio is a listener, a learner, and a leader with a deep history in program and process strategy, design, implementation, and evaluation. People and relationships are at the center of her work; Karisa builds wellness-oriented internal cultures and respectful, collaborative external partnerships.

As Director of Social Innovation at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Karisa leads the DSO’s Detroit Strategy Process, the Detroit Neighborhood Initiative, and Senza, a professional development program for and with youth from communities underrepresented in classical music. In addition to designing new programs grounded in equitable practices, Karisa conducts detailed evaluation of program quality and impact. She creates professional development and training opportunities for staff, students, and partners of the DSO.

Karisa was the founding Director of Arts and Culture at Lantern Community Services, a supportive housing and homeless shelter provider in New York City. During her six years at Lantern, she established arts, culture, and movement programs for over 2,000 clients in 17 buildings. Her department focused on celebrating the artistry and resilience of individuals and families who had experienced homelessness, youth aging out of the foster care system, and individuals with chronic mental and physical health conditions, including those with substance use disorders. At Lantern, she received the 2020 Champion of Collaboration Award.

Prior to her time at Lantern, Karisa served as Assistant Director, RealArts and Education, at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House. In this position, she programmed and managed over 70 weekly community arts and education programs for a membership of 3,000 New Yorkers. She got her start in urban program design and implementation while working for the New York City Parks Department where she collaborated in the rollout of a new citywide wellness program, Shape Up NYC, a partnership with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. 

Karisa received her Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from Stony Brook University, her master’s degree from Yale University, and her bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University. She has been a New York Community Trust Leadership Fellow, a New York Foundation for the Arts Emerging Leader Fellow, and a Carnegie Hall Choral Fellow. She was a 2019 Stony Brook University 40 Under 40 honoree, recognized for her work in civil service and activism. She currently serves on the Steering Committee of the Detroit Residents First Fund. 

Based on the breadth of knowledge acquired over the course of her career, Karisa has designed and presented a broad range of courses and workshops, including program design, career development, wellness, and music. She has worked extensively with early childhood, elementary, pre-college, college, and older adult students. Sought after as a clinician and lecturer, Karisa presented on Social Innovation at the 2022 Americans for the Arts National Convention. She has recently presented at Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, the Supportive Housing Network of New York Annual Conference, Valparaiso University, Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance Technical Assistance Institute, Janian Medical-Project for Psychiatric Outreach to the Homeless-Grand Rounds, the Association of Vocational Rehabilitation in Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, the National Health Care for the Homeless Annual Conference, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, among others.

Karisa’s oboe recordings can be found on Naxos, Cantaloupe, EMF, Northern Spy, Albany, and Carrier record labels. She has received chamber music awards at the Fischoff Competition, the Coleman Competition, Chamber Music Yellow Springs, and the Chesapeake Chamber Music Competition; she has also been a featured soloist at the New York City Electronic Music Festival and the International Computer Music Conference.

Contact Karisa at karisa antonio at gmail dot com.