Kara Inae 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 race, equity, and democracy, aiming to drive toward greater impact across the Foundation’s programs.
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 its approach to place-based grantmaking.
Before that, Carlisle held various positions in Los Angeles, including associate director at Zócalo Public Square, 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, and in 2019 was selected to join the Grantmaker for Effective Organizations’ Change Leaders in Philanthropy Fellowship. She is currently on the boards of Living Cities and Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement for which she serves as board secretary. She also serves on advisory boards for the Center for Effective Philanthropy and the National Civic League and was recently appointed by Governor Walz to the Executive Council for the Young Women’s Initiatives of Minnesota.
Carlisle holds an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and an MDiv in urban studies and education from Claremont School of Theology.