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

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 and was featured in The Best of Pottery published in 1996.

Kathy Griffin, ESAI Ceramics Instructor

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.

Kathy attended ceramics classes and workshops held in northern Colorado. She is a member of Front Range Potters and Boulder Wood-fire groups. Now that her four children are grown, Kathy 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 that focuses on hemplime and sustainable building education. He is the co-founder of Hemp Building Company and a US Hemp Building Association regional leader.