Lisa Petno

Photographs by William Taufic.


Intake, Norwalk Youth Symphony, Horizons Music Academy, New Canaan Country Day School, Greens Farms Academy, Social Venture Partners

Lisa Petno’s background is in science and medicine, but her four children drew her into the world of music. “They all played instruments and participated in the Norwalk Youth Symphony,” explains Lisa. “I saw how important music was to their personal, academic and social development. Seeing them fall in love and be passionate about something that spilled over into everything they did inspired me to get involved.”

While chairman of the Norwalk Youth Symphony, Lisa met the director of Intake, a music education organization that provides classical and native instrument instruction to underserved kids. Lisa’s son was invited to play the marimba at an Intake concert. “I fell in love with their mission,” she says. “Every child should have the same opportunities my kids were fortunate to have.”

Lisa is motivated every day by kids like Whitney, a recent graduate: “She came from the Dominican Republic, had a single parent, spoke no English and was failing her classes. She didn’t have support. Then she became involved with Intake and fell in love with the violin. Through the discipline, self-esteem, focus, mentorship and college counseling she gained in the program, she is now going to a two-year college and exudes confidence.”

Courage in Action
Lisa is most proud of “connecting the dots and creating partnerships,” she says, naming Future 5, the Unitarian Church, the Women’s Business Development Council and the multi-generational choir she helped create with Stamford Senior Center, as a few examples. “You can’t go it alone as a nonprofit arts organization.”

Intake founder Angelica Durrell comments:“As chairman of Intake, Lisa has expanded the board into a high-impact and effective team of committed members, increased individual giving levels, facilitated new partnerships and launched a strategic planning task force with the help from Harvard Business School Community Partners [which offers alumni opportunities to leverage their skills and experience to help nonprofit organizations succeed]. She provides the equivalent hours and effort of a full-time staff member.”

Hopes & Dreams
“The goal is to multiply our impact and reach more kids,” says Lisa, who volunteers at various organizations and schools. “We aim to be increasingly purposeful about the kind of impact we make. At Intake, we are exploring partnerships with the public schools in Stamford and have an outreach program to Nicaragua this month. We have 1,000 diverse audience members at our concerts; we will continue celebrating the richness of the fabric of our community.”

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