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Dr. Lisa Donovan

At its core, Lisa Donovan’s work is about the spark of learning that happens within the creative process. A professor and arts educator with decades of experience and multiple published works, she seeks to develop and implement strategies that can create more space for students and teachers to find that spark—and develop a lifelong love of learning and the arts. 


As a Professor in the Fine and Performing Arts Department at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Lisa has seen students find their voice and discover their agency through arts education (and many of her students have helped with or participated in her academic work). 


As the Co-Founder of the Berkshire Regional Arts Integration Network (BRAINworks), a federally-funded grant program, she has helped lead professional development in arts integration for Berkshire County educators across PreK-12 classrooms, leveraging the region's existing cultural assets and showing how to use the arts to create a lasting impact for students. 


Through BRAINworks, she helped develop and lead The C4 Initiative, which created a countywide blueprint for arts education that is now being tested in other school environments in the U.S.; and the Berkshire Cultural Asset Network, which offers arts education-focused professional development to educators and community engagement staff at regional arts and culture organizations. 


Lisa is spearheading several projects that foreground the use of the arts as a strategy for regional change, funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Department of Education, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and Barr Foundation. She was previously Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Creative Arts in Learning Division at Lesley University. 


In addition to her work in education, Lisa has broad experience working as an arts educator and administrator in a variety of arts organizations including Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Berkshire Opera Company, Barrington Stage Company, University of Massachusetts' Department of Theater, Boston University's Theater, Visual Arts and Tanglewood Institutes. She has also served as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Alliance for Arts Education.


Lisa has published widely on arts integration and rural arts education, including a five-book series on integrating the arts across curriculum published (Shell Press) and her latest book, Teacher as Curator (Teachers College Press), which was written with Sarah Anderberg and looks at formative assessment for arts-based strategies. Her rural research, Leveraging Change: Increasing Access to Arts Education in Rural Areas was featured by the National Endowment for the Arts. Her latest book, Teacher as Curator, is being published by Teachers College Press. 


Awards and honors


  • 2015 Lesley University Sally K. Lenhardt Professional Leadership Award

  • 2016 Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Faculty-Senior Class Faculty Appreciation Award

  • 2017 Massachusetts Art Education Association Friend of Arts Education Award

  • Voted Best Professor in 2017 as part of the Berkshire Eagle’s Best of the Berkshires competition

  • Finalist in the 2018 1Berkshire Trendsetters Award for Creative Economy Standout

  • Recently selected for the Fulbright Specialist Roster



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Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
375 Church Street, North Adams, MA 01247


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