Kara Carlisle joined the McKnight Foundation in 2017 as vice president of programs. Since joining the Foundation, Carlisle has been supporting cross-program strategy and development, in particular exploring intersections across diversity, equity, and inclusion and community engagement as leverage points to drive greater impact across geographic and issue-specific areas.
Previously, Carlisle spent eight years at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, MI, most recently as director of New Mexico Programs. She also served on Kellogg’s Civic and Philanthropic Engagement team, developing the first manual to inform the organization’s approach to place-based grantmaking.
Before that, Carlisle held various positions in Los Angeles, including associate director at Zócalo Public Square Lecture Series, and director of public relations and director of the 4.29 dispute resolution center at the Korean American Coalition. She also oversaw personnel and fund development at the Koreatown Youth and Community Center, Inc. In addition, Carlisle served as president of the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission and as chair of the Empowerment Congress. She is a former board member of the National Association for Community Mediation in Washington, DC.
Carlisle holds an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and an MDiv in urban studies and education from Claremont School of Theology.