Primary Contact Information Committees & Key Roles
President 2020-2022
Pete Pinnell
Peter Pinnell earned a BA degree studying music at Columbia College, a small college in Columbia, Missouri. It was there that he first began working in clay and became fascinated with ceramics. After a short break from school, Pinnell began studying art at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY) where he earned his BFA with Honors in 1980. He then went on to the University of Colorado at Boulder where he earned his MFA in 1982. After earning a BA studying music at Columbia College, where he first began working with clay, he completed is BFA with Honors in 1980, and went on to receive his MA in 1982 from the University of Colorado at Boulder.After graduation, Pinnell made his living as a full-time studio potter for twelve years. During this time, he taught part-time at the Kansas City Art Institute and at Johnson County Community College in Kansas. It was this experience that caused Pinnell to fall in love with teaching. He joined the faculty at the University of Nebraska in 1995, where he is now Professor of Art. Over the last 20 years, he and his colleagues have built a nationally-recognized ceramics program: US News & World Report ranks the UNL graduate ceramics program as the 9th best in the country. In addition to his teaching, he continues to exhibit widely and his artwork is found in a number of notable collections, including the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Sheldon Art Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.From 2008 to 2014, he held the honorary college title of Hixson-Lied Professor of Ceramics, in recognition of his exhibition record. Pinnell’s record as a teacher extends beyond the university. During the course of career, he has taught professional workshops at Anderson Ranch, Arrowmont, Penland, the Archie Bray Foundation, over 20 colleges and universities, and at numerous community art centers. At the University of Nebraska, Pinnell served as chair of the Department of Art & Art History from 2011 to 2016. During that time, he led the department through the reaccreditation process, spearheaded the creation of an expanded design program, created a new department digital lab and oversaw the creation of two new undergraduate programs. He has also been active in art accreditation, serving on several occasions as a site visitor for the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).Pinnell enjoys researching the history and aesthetics of ceramics, which informs both his creative work as well as his teaching. He has spoken on these topics at a number of major ceramics conferences, including NCECA and Utilitarian Clay. He has published articles in Ceramics Monthly, Studio Potter, and Ceramics Art & Perception, and his column, “As far as I know…” has appeared in Clay Times magazine since 1997.
Executive Committee
Finance Committee
Development Committee
Nominations Committee, Co-chair
Past President 2020-2021
Holly Hanessian
Florida State University
Holly Hanessian is a Professor of Art and the Area Head of Ceramics at Florida State University. She was the Exhibitions Director for NCECA from 2005-2008.Her current artwork explores food justice, social inequities, the digital versus the analogue experience of touch and sensory immersive moments through creating socially engaged artworks. Her work can be seen at the 2019 NCECA conference at the exhibitions, “Ferment” that is within walking distance and at “OIKOS Systems” at the St. Paul Academy in the Drake Gallery adjacent to St. Catherine’s University.She is a member of the Socially Engaged Craft Collective and Her work can be found at and at and
Steward of the Board 2020-2022
Merrie Wright
Merrie Wright received her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute, spent one year as a post-baccalaureate student at Southern Methodist University, and received her MFA from Louisiana State University. After teaching at several universities, Wright has settled into her studio in east Texas and is an Associate Professor and Interim Chair for the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Texas at Tyler. Wright exhibits her works nationally, has curated many ceramic-based exhibitions, and does workshops and lectures for universities, art centers, and galleries.
Executive Committee
Finance Committee
Nominations Committee, Co-chair Multicultural Fellows Gathering Planning Team
Special Advisor for Fundraising Board Orientation and Development (ex officio)
Rhonda Willers
Focusing on fragility and subtle strength, Rhonda Willers creates art with repetitive forms and markings reflecting on memories and nature through diverse materiality. Rhonda is the author of Terra Sigillata: Contemporary Techniques. She studied at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (BFA) and University of Nebraska-Lincoln (MFA). She is a studio artist, author, mother, and NCECA Board Steward located in Elk Mound, Wisconsin.
Treasurer 2016-2022
Reena Kashyap
Reena Kashyap had a corporate career before she entered the field of ceramics. She apprenticed at the Filmeridis studio in Bahrain and then studied ceramics with Judith Weber of New Rochelle before setting up her own studio in 1989, making functional porcelain and stoneware pottery. Over more than twenty years, she has participated in several regional juried craft shows and group exhibitions. She was invited in 2000 to participate as a Resident at the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, in Maine. Her work was featured in “500 Cups” published by Lark Books in April 2005, Prior leadership roles as the founding Executive Director of the Clay Art Center in Port Chester (New York) through 2012, a term as Director at Large on the board of NCECA, as well as service on the boards of the Arts Westchester & The Volunteer Center of the United Way. Reena is now back in the studio making pots and deeply immersed in developing a new body of work.
Chair Finance Committee
Executive Committee
Secretary 2020-2023
Alex Hibbitt
Alex Hibbitt is currently the Graduate Chair of the Ohio University School of Art. She has exhibited widely in Europe and the US, including The Soap Factory, Minneapolis, The Witte Voet Gallery, Amsterdam, The Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague. Awards include a McKnight Foundation residency award, An Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award and an emerging artist award from the Netherlands Foundation for Fine Arts, Design and Architecture.
Chair – Curatorial Task Force
Executive Committee
Finance Committee
Voting Oversight
Exhibitions Director 2018-2021
Brett Binford
Eutectic Gallery
Portland, Oregon
Brett Binford is an artist and entrepreneur residing in Portland, Oregon. He is the co-owner of Mudshark Studios, Eutectic Gallery, Kept Goods, Clay Street, and The Portland Growler Company. Brett currently oversees production at Mudshark Studios as their CEO and Operations Manager as well as operates Eutectic Gallery as the Gallery Director. Brett first served on NCECA’s board as an Onsite Conference Liaison for the 51st annual conference held in Portland, Oregon in 2017 and is currently serving as the Exhibitions Director.
Executive Committee
Exhibitions Committee (per conference)
Finance Committee
Programs Director 2015-2021
Mary K. Cloonan
Mary K. Cloonan was born and raised in Western New York State, receiving a BS in education from Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. She then went East to earn her MFA in ceramics from Syracuse University. She has since headed South to become the Exhibitions Director, resident artist and teacher at Baltimore Clayworks in Maryland and is also a ceramics professor at Towson University in Maryland. National and international art journals have published articles she has written, as well as those written about her own work. In addition to giving workshops to various art centers around the country, she has participated in an artist residency in Taiwan at Tainan University for the Arts. Her work has been exhibited around the country and is in many private collections. Most artists have a touchstone of artistic epiphany, she blames that salty Play-Doh.
Board Liaison to Green Task Force
Executive Committee
Finance Committee
K-12 Programming selection
Process Room
Communications Director

Edith Garcia
Edith Garcia is actively engaged in critical research on the convergence of contemporary art, technologies, education, and design with curatorial projects, publishing, and the realization of creative productions. Garcia received her BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, MFA from the California College of the Arts, and a research degree MPhil at the Royal College of Art in London. She has authored and been an editor for numerous articles for publication on visual and design culture, including and VJ: Audio-Visual Art and VJ Culture with D-Fuse (Laurence King Publishing) and Ceramics and the Human Figure, A&C Black (Bloomsbury Publishing).Garcia has long embraced unconventional and experimental projects, within her research and creative productions she addresses the ideas of transience, the status of the object in contemporary art theory, and the consciousness of our contemporaneity as a society. Her projects have been exhibited throughout North America, Mexico, and Europe and have been the recipient of national and international awards, artists in residencies, and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at the California College of the Arts. Garcia academic affiliates include the Department of Art Practice at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Fine Arts and Humanities and Science Programs at the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA.
Communications Task Force
Executive Committee
Finance Committee
Director at Large 2019-2022
Lauren Sandler
New Paltz, New York
Lauren Sandler deconstructs mythologies and investigates cultural narratives of power and perspective through writing, teaching, service, and studio practice. Through fragmented forms, allegoric vessels, and mundane assemblages, Sandler highlights the overlooked, amplifies interdependence, and implicates our assumptions of normal and worth. Born in New York, Sandler’s felt sense developed through the contrast of the city’s exterior, to the small space of the family’s apartment. Sandler’s work is exhibited nationally with past residencies at The Clay Studio of Missoula and Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, where Sandler received the Kiln God Award. Sandler earned a MFA in ceramics from Pennsylvania State University, and undergraduate degrees in anthropology and ceramics from Ithaca College and SUNY New Paltz. Sandler is currently an Assistant Professor of Instruction in ceramics at Tyler School of Art. 
Gallery EXPO
Director at Large 2018-2021
Zach Tate
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana
Zach works at the University of Notre Dame as a research associate for the Ceramics Department and is been the Executive Director of  Goshen Youth Arts -a non-profit organization serving youth ages 9-19. He received his B.F.A. in ceramics from Missouri State University his M.F.A. from Texas Tech University.
NCECA Clay Conversations
Director at Large 2020-2023
Simon Levin
Simon Levin has been working in clay since 1990, when an elective ceramics course in collegelead to an M.A. and an M.F.A from the University of Iowa. He is a full time studio potter workingexclusively with wood firing. His work is exhibited and published internationally. Simon is awriter for many ceramic journals, though he dislikes writing about himself in the third person. In2013 he was a Senior Fulbright Scholar researching local materials. Simon has built wood firedkilns for both US colleges and universities as well as schools in Taiwan and China. Between2004 and 2019 his apprenticeship program has trained and influenced 21 potters. A resident ofWisconsin for 18 years, Simon has recently moved to Pawnee Illinois where he is currentlyre-establishing his pottery.
Emerging Artists, International Residencies
Student Director at Large 2019-2021
Eliza Weber
Arizona State University
Eliza Weber is pursuing her MFA at Arizona State University. Originally from Great Falls, she received her BFA from The University of Montana. For two years, she was an Instructor of Record at Kansas State University. Eliza completed a short Artist in Residence at Medalta in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada and another two years at Pottery Northwest in Seattle, Washington.
NJSE Jurying
Awards Solicitation Assistant
Student Critique Mentor Solicitation/Student Sign-up
Student Perspectives Selection
Student Director at Large 2020-2022
Michelle Castro
Florida State University
Michelle Castro received her BFA with major focus in ceramics at Midwestern State University. Michelle is currently at Florida State University working towards her MFA.
NJSE Jurying
Awards Solicitation Assistant
Student Critique Mentor Solicitation/Student Sign-up
Student Perspectives Selection
2021 Onsite Liaison – Cincinnati, OH
Marsha A. Karagheusian
Marsha Karagheusian earned a BS degree in art education from Southern Connecticut State University, a BFA in ceramics from Northern Kentucky University, and her MFA in ceramics from Arizona State University. Her studies also included the private atelier of artist Michael R. Skop in Kentucky, drawing and sculpting from the live model. As a professor of art and art education at Xavier University in Cincinnati for over three decades, Karagheusian has impacted countless students while teaching all levels of ceramics and art education. During this time, she served a decade as chair of the Department of Art, while also raising two children. She maintains a studio in Northern Kentucky and exhibits her work nationally and internationally. 
2021 Onsite Liaison – Cincinnati, OH
Lisa Merida-Paytes
Lisa Merida-Paytes earned her M.F.A. from the University of Cincinnati (1997) and B.F.A. from the Art Academy of Cincinnati 1991.  Her work has been featured in exhibitions and publications regionally, nationally and internationally for 22 years. She has taught at all levels throughout the Midwest and serving in positions including gallery director at FUNKe FIRED ARTS, and art drector / founder of the Kennedy Heights Art Center (2004). Recently, Merida-Paytes served as organizer, moderator and panelist for a 2019 NCECA conference discussion entitled, FOCUS: Inspiration Matters held in Minneapolis. In 2016-17, she was awarded an AIA Summer Residency at Watershed, organized a group exhibition of that work in Portland, Oregon and wrote an article about the residency and exhibition that was published in Ceramics Ireland Magazine. She was awarded a AIA Summerfair Cincinnati Grant for the third time in her career (2018, 2006 & 2001). Also, she published her own curriculum, Special Studio Teaching Manual Series:Preserving Memories with Paperclay, an Art-to ArtPalette Books publication.  Her work is included in 500 Figures in Clay, Volume II and The Best of 500 Ceramics:  Celebrating a Decade in Clay, Lark Books publications, 2014 and 2012.  Additionally, she has feature articles published in Studio Ceramics:  Advanced Techniques, (cover artist), The American Ceramics Society’s book in 2010, Pottery Making Illustrated, July / August 2009 issue (cover artist), Art-to Art Palette Journal 2008, Raku, Pit & Barrel, The American Ceramics Society’s book, In 2007, Ceramics Monthly’s October 2006 issue and Lark Book’s, 500 Raku in 2010 and 500 Animals in 2006. 
2022 Onsite Liaison – Sacramento, CA
Nancy Servis
Nancy M. Servis, Sacramento, California, is a recognized author, curator, educator, and ceramic historian specializing in Northern California ceramics. She has been an active member of the greater San Francisco Bay Area ceramics community for nearly thirty years where she curated insightful exhibitions for galleries and museums and devised college curriculum on the topic of California clay. As a frequent guest lecturer, Nancy has shared her seasoned perspective nationally speaking at the Harvard Ceramics Program, Greenwich House Pottery in New York and select NCECA conferences. Her writing is featured in periodicals like Ceramics: Art + Perception, Neue KeramikStudio Potter, and the NCECA Journal. She also is the author of several artist biographies and exhibition catalogues. In 2014 Nancy was the Jentel Critic/Writer in Residence at the Archie Bray Foundation for Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana, and was recently inducted into the International Academy of Ceramics located in Geneva, Switzerland. Presently, Nancy is completing her book on the history of Northern California ceramics. In addition to her commitment to preserving, documenting, and exhibiting the work of Northern California ceramics artists, Nancy is a passionate dog lover and regularly fosters Weimaraners. For more information visit her website


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