Strategy & Impact

Karisa Antonio works to advance a just and equitable world where all people can create, thrive, and be valued as the experts in their own experience. She is a strategic and adaptive leader with a strong ability to work collaboratively with people from many walks of life. 

At present, Karisa is the Director of Social Innovation at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. At the DSO, Karisa leads the development and implementation of the organization’s Detroit Strategy Process, engaging Detroiters and community-serving organizations through listening and equitable collaboration. Since March of 2021, she has engaged over 100 organizations and several thousand community members through listening sessions and diverse cultural experiences. Karisa uses an innovative, participant-centered approach to program design, with a focus on trust, accountability, and generative learning. To support this work, she builds internal systems and processes that foster respect, efficiency, agency, and creativity. Systems of evaluation are of particular importance. Using the tenets of Results Based Accountability, Karisa uses intentional performance measures to support the understanding of program impact. 

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 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. Karisa designed and built Lantern’s Arts and Culture program from the ground up, resulting in the annual creation of more than 300 original works of visual art, music, poetry, digital photography, and dance. She produced over 200 special events each year, and collaborated with a variety of cultural partners, including:

Artwork from 1: Atmospheres

– Museum of Modern Art
– School of Visual Arts
– New York University
– Columbia University
– Bronx ArtSpace
– Bronx Narratives
– New York Horticulture Society
– Community Access Art Collective
– El Barrio’s ArtSpace
– New York Restoration Project

Karisa has been recognized for her work both internally and externally.

– Lantern Community Services Champion of Collaboration Award
-Stony Brook University 40 Under Forty Award for Civil Service and Activism
– New York Community Trust Leadership Fellows
– New York Foundation for the Arts Emerging Leaders

Prior to working at Lantern, Karisa was the Assistant Director of Arts and Education at Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, where she oversaw a portfolio of over 70 arts and education classes per week, produced 40 concerts annually, and managed cultural partnerships, including Carnegie Hall, the Whitney Museum, the Manhattan School of Music, and the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, among many others.

Karisa has worked as a Program Coordinator for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene/Department of Parks and Recreation special initiative Shape Up NYC, procured and administered Yale University’s AlumniVentures funds at Kipp Charter School in Manhattan, run a summer music festival for three years with the Upper Valley Music Center of New Hampshire, evaluated students for entry into the Lucy Moses Special School for Music, and was the Chair of the Grand Central Neighborhood Social Services Community Advisory Board.

She has presented on program design at:
– Americans for the Arts National Convention (spring 2022)
– Supportive Housing Network of New York Annual Conference (3x)
– Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance
– Janian Medical Care Project for Psychiatric Outreach to the Homeless (PPOH)
– Association of Vocational Rehabilitation in Alcoholism and Substance Abuse
– National Health Care for the Homeless Annual Conference
– Manhattan School of Music

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