Donna San Antonio works, studies, writes, and lives in a way that combines multiple fields. Her initial training in sociology and education led to a participant-observation research project on alternative education as it was practiced in 10 schools in eight states. As a community organizer for a 1970s antipoverty program, she became committed to civil rights and economic justice. She spent 10 years in mostly middle-school classrooms teaching social studies, language arts, and health. She returned to school to be trained as a guidance counselor and focused her study in cross-cultural counseling.
San Antonio is the founder and executive director of the Appalachian Mountain Teen Project, a rural youth and community development program in central New Hampshire. She currently works in school, community, home, and wilderness settings with youth and families who have experienced economic hardship, trauma, and loss. In this program, she has designed, implemented, and evaluated projects in youth-to-youth mentoring, adventure-based counseling, parent support and education, school-based violence prevention, and projects for girls and women. She finds inspiration and hope in the creativity and courage she witnesses as the teens and families she knows face the adversarial conditions of their lives. San Antonio's practical experience and research interests lie in these areas: rural education, community development, social class and educational equity, qualitative research with adolescents, and experiential education.