The following bios tell of the extraordinary individuals who have shared their passion for the arts, diverse experiences, and expertise with East Side Art Institute. Life always brings challenges. Having a supportive community to nurture and guide us turns challenges into opportunities. This group of hard-working, strong individuals has turned an enormous life-changing set of circumstances into the opportunity of a lifetime. They are working tirelessly to accomplish ESAI’s goals, make sound decisions, and always choose integrity, honesty, and compassion.


PRESIDENT | Nancy Utterback

Nancy has worked as a potter for the past 40 years. She studied painting from 1972 through 1976 and along the way discovered pottery. In 1975 she opened her first studio and has gained a reputation as a nationally sought-after potter and master ceramics instructor. While maintaining a full-time studio, she has exhibited her work in galleries and exhibitions, and shows. She has experience both with teaching pottery and presenting workshops across the US.

In Colorado, Nancy ran a successful pottery program for the City of Westminster from 1992 to 1998, receiving a national award for the best recreation program in 1995. She began teaching at the City of Boulder Pottery Lab in 1991 and by 2001 she became the director of the City of Boulder Pottery Lab, overseeing the operations of this teaching facility. In 2015 she became the director of the Pottery Lab for Studio Arts Boulder, and in 2016 she began creating East Side Art Institute.

During her career Nancy has become an advocate for energy efficiency, bringing “best practices” to the facilities and programs she managed. In 2008 she partnered with engineers from the University of Colorado in a research project on wood kilns and firing. She continued the research to quantify the most efficient firing and studio practices for ceramic artists. Her article “A Change in the Air” was published in Studio Potter magazine in 2010. She practices zero-waste by recycling all clay and glaze materials using minimal amounts of water. As Director of East Side Art Institute, these same practices will be taught and instituted. She has been published in Ceramics Monthly and Studio Potter magazine and was featured in The Best of Pottery published in 1996.

TREASURER | Kathy Griffin

Kathy is a Boulder County resident who discovered her passion for working with clay in high school. After several successful shows and sales while in high school, Kathy decided to pursue her passion and art studies at the collegiate level.

Kathy studied art at Emmanuel College in Boston. While attending Emmanuel, Kathy became involved with the local YMCA through a work-study program. The initial work-study role broadened significantly in the following semesters. Kathy developed and ran many summer camps and camp programs in the area southeast of Boston. Many of these programs were focused on special needs and at-risk children.

Then life intervened. Kathy married, started a family and raised 4 children. She then moved to Colorado where she has lived for the past 20 years.

While raising her children, Kathy devoted her full focus and energy into being an engaged mother. Volunteering at her children’s schools, she was active in their school PTO and organized and executed multiple fundraisers.

In recent years, Kathy has again started to pursue her passion for clay. She has attended various classes and workshops held in northern Colorado. She was/is a member of Front Range Potters and Boulder Wood-fire groups.

Now that her children are grown, Kathy has a home studio in Longmont, Colorado where she resides with her husband of 34 years. In addition to spending quality time in her studio, she oversees her husband’s remodeling of their 5th and final house.

SECRETARY | Anna Valenti

Anna Valenti is a ceramic artist
passionate for arts education and building community spaces. She is an Assistant Professor of Fine Arts and the Ceramics Coordinator at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design. She received a BA and ceramics post-baccalaureate studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a MFA from the Maine College of Art. She has taught ceramics courses at Naropa University, Washington Heights Art Center, and assisted at Penland School of Craft. She has shown her work nationally at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Maine, Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in Maine, Union Hall in Denver, Bray North Gallery in Montana, The Clay Studio in Pennsylvania, and the Hyde Museum in New York. Her work takes a weaver’s approach to the technique of coil building. Her research is in fiber clay bodies.

BOARD MEMBER | Denise Zubizarreta

Denise “The Vamp DeVille” Zubizarreta is a multidisciplinary creative, researcher, and scholar currently living and working in Arvada, CO with a BFA in Fine Art from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. She currently focuses her writing on arts and culture for both Hyperallergic and Southwest Contemporary. Her mixed media works explore post-colonial theory through traditions, memories, and contemporary life that are blended in her work to honor, reclaim, as well as, reinvent narratives of the past, present, and future.

BOARD MEMBER | Kathy Icenogle

As a graduate of Stanford’s Product Design and Art Design programs, Kathy has a passion for creative problem solving. She brings a broad base of experience to the ESAI Board that includes many years of work in the computer industry, publishing a digital news site for a small town that had no communications channels, and establishing a non-profit group in support of public-school arts programs within her community.

After moving to Boulder, Kathy rediscovered her high school interest in ceramics. She took classes from Nancy Utterback and others at the Boulder Pottery Lab, and then pursued more advanced instruction in ceramics through ESAI. During Covid, she started painting with pastels and wants to learn more. Kathy relates most closely to those who don’t necessarily identify as an artist, but appreciate the value of getting immersed in the practice of art, whether that means focusing on sculpting a form out of a piece of clay, polishing a piece of jewelry, or painting the many colors and textures you can see in a field of snow. It is in those moments that we can restore the emotional energy and perspective that helps us in our daily lives.

BOARD MEMBER | Phelan Dalton

Born and raised in the Rocky Mountain foothills, Phelan is a true hemp enthusiast. Having been around construction all of his life and farming hemp since 2015, his work centers around hemplime, sustainable building, and regenerative agriculture. Phelan has developed a thorough knowledge of industrial hemp with over ten years of experience working in all sectors of the cannabis field. He has done hemplime builds and led hemplime workshops across the United States. Phelan Dalton is the co-founder of Hemp Building Company and a US Hemp Building Association regional leader. Hemp Building Company is a construction materials supplier and an insulation subcontractor company that focuses on hemplime and sustainable building education.


With a background in Radio Communications, Art History, Media Journalism and Art Curation, Lys Anzia has worked closely with a diversity of artists, guiding them toward a career as a successful public creative. “I believe that art can work to change the world”, says Anzia with commitment. From 2004 to 2005, Lys and her partner opened two art galleries in the “Mecca of Art,” Santa Fe, New Mexico, which encourage artists of all ages with quality mentorships and education. For the past 15 years, Lys has also worked closely with human rights issues at the United Nations in New York as a news & feature story journalist. Today she still works with issues that help heal the world.

“Let us together tell our stories. Let our creative essence empower all forms of art. East Side Art Institute is part of the solution to a better world.” says Anzia.