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 work tirelessly to accomplish ESAI’s goals, make sound decisions, and always choose integrity, honesty, and compassion.


Nancy Utterback, ESAI Executive Director

PRESIDENT | Nancy Utterback

Initially studying painting, Nancy has worked as a potter/ceramic artist for over 40 years. As a nationally sought-after potter and master ceramics instructor, she has presented workshops across the US and has widely exhibited her work in galleries, exhibitions, and shows.

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. Concurrently she taught at the Boulder Pottery Lab starting in 1991, becoming the director in 2001. In 2015, she served as the Pottery Lab director for Studio Arts Boulder prior to creating East Side Art Institute in 2016.

During her career Nancy has become an advocate for energy efficiency, bringing “best practices” to the facilities and programs she managed and her own studio. 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 are instituted and taught. She published research findings in an article in Studio Potter in 2010. Nancy also has published articles in Ceramics Monthly and was featured in The Best of Pottery published in 1996.

Kathy Griffin, ESAI Ceramics Instructor

TREASURER | Kathy Griffin

Kathy discovered her passion for working with clay while in high school in Brockton, MA. Having had several successful shows and sales while at Brockton High, Kathy decided to pursue art studies at Emmanuel College. There she became involved with the local YMCA through a work-study program. As that role broadened, Kathy developed and ran summer camps and programs, many of which were focused on special needs and at-risk children in the Boston area.

Upon moving to Colorado, Kathy attended ceramics classes and workshops in the northern Front Range area and is a member of Front Range Potters. She has a home studio in Longmont, Colorado where she resides with her husband.

Anna Valenti, ESAI Board

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.

Phelan Dalton


Phelan Dalton is a contractor and natural builder focusing on hemplime and sustainable building education. He is the co-founder of Hemp Building Company and a US Hemp Building Association regional leader.

Marilyn Conroy

Marilyn Conroy’s family and professional career has been centered in Boulder County for 45 years after moving from Chicago in 1977. She has worked as a clinical social worker in Community Mental Health for 35 years and has maintained a private practice serving individuals, couples and families. Marilyn says it is a great joy to support her community as a board member of ESAI and to join other creatives in making this vision a reality.

Gary Markowitz

Gary Markowitz’ 30 years of abstract and contemporary oils have been exhibited and collected internationally. His artistic career has included solo exhibitions in Paris France, Berlin Germany, Barcelona and Cadaqués Spain, Maui Hawaii, and Denver Colorado. His works also have been exposed in galleries and group shows throughout the United States. Markowitz is known as well for his creative works as a publisher, creative director, photographer and designer. He received his BA in Mass Communication, Television & Film from the University of Colorado. His email is: