Board of Directors 2024-25 

Josh Wood - President

1) Why are you interested in serving on the KC Clay Guild Board?

I am very passionate about ceramic art and KCCG. I believe in making art available to the greater KC Metro area, and I believe that KCCG provides an excellent venue to do just that. The Guild has provided an excellent opportunity for area artists and I want to do my part to see it continue to thrive, improve, and grow. The Guild is a place that people of all types gather to make art, and have a good time doing it. I am proud that we have been able to offer affordable artistic opportunities to our community. We have grown tremendously over the past several years, and have been able to increase our offerings with programs such as school outreach, an expanding Artist in Residence Program, Soda Firing, classes for developmentally challenged patrons, and kids summer camps to name a few. I can't wait to see our fundraising goals be fulfilled, and the dream of KCCG building and programming expansion realized.

2) Describe your skills, experience, and interests and how you might put it to use as a KC Clay Guild Board Member.

I have been on the Board, as Vice-President for four years, and have been President for the past 6. 10 years on the Board has flown by! I have been working with clay since 1998.

John M. Devaney - Vice President

1. I was initially exposed to KCCG in 2010 through UMKC sponsored Communiversity Class I took with my daughter. I had taken an introductory ceramics course in college many years before and the Communiversity class refreshed my recollection of how much I enjoyed making pots. I became a member and began formal classes at KCCG in 2012 and started volunteering at the Guild about the same time.

2. For the last ten years, I have been privileged to serve on the KCCG Board. I initially served as Chair of the Building Maintenance Committee, coordinating, and working with KCCG volunteers to complete improvements to the inside and outside of our studio facilities. In recent years, I have held the position of Chair of the Education Committee. In that position, I had the opportunity to work with our Studio Director Louis Riley and our talented class instructors in ensuring a positive, productive student experience. During my last four Board terms, I have held the position of Vice President assisting our President Josh Wood in the administration of the Guild. That effort has included such activities as policy development and review and obtaining the CARE Act Payroll Protection Program funding to replace lost revenue during the studio’s COVID related shutdown. I would like to continue to contribute to the overall improvement of the Guild, physically, academically, and culturally, including the expansion of membership and provision ceramic opportunities to all the diverse communities that comprise the greater Kansas City area. My specific focus during the next term would be on fundraising consistent with the Guild’s strategic plan to purchase, repair and equip a new studio building and, in the meantime, to protect, as best we can, the Guild’s operations from the disruptions inherent in the two years of construction activities related to the $98 million apartment/retail complex project starting across 74th Street this year.

3. My background in working with non-profit organizations facilitates my ability to assist in continuing to improve our functioning as an organization, as well as formulating and attaining our community education and outreach goals. It also does not hurt to have a lawyer on the board.

Melissa May - Treasurer

1. Why are you interested in serving on the KC Clay Guild Board?

I've been taking classes through the Clay Guild since 2022 and have absolutely loved learning new skills that combine my love of arts and physics. All of the community that I have met is so welcoming and helpful and I enjoy contributing to that space. I am passionate about the arts being accessible and think it is amazing how the Clay guild has been successful in providing that to everyone. I want to give back to a community that has already given me so much.

2. Describe your skills, experience, and interests and how you might put it to use as a KC Clay Guild Board Member.

I have experience working for a large company as a Project/Construction Manager for an Engineering Company and have also run a small business part time in Property Management and construction renovations. I've used many of the same skills in both roles - vetting, hiring, and managing contractors, designing spaces for a variety of audiences, managing project financials and cashflow, project schedules, and designing/managing a website and social media posts. I have been responsible for managing multiple groups, with conflicting interests, to achieve a successful outcome. I am hopeful that that experience would be an asset to help the Clay Guild expand and grow their space.

My strength is being able to focus on the small details while still seeing the larger picture. I tend to be very organized and detail oriented. I believe in listening before speaking - trying to understand the needs and goals of others, so that we can work together towards a common goals. I would be happy to help the Clay Guild community any way that I can.

Laura Tyler Strawn - Secretary

1. Why are you interested in serving on the KC Clay Guild Board?

I started taking classes at the KC Clay Guild in 2016, volunteered as a monitor, and then started serving on the board in 2018. The Clay Guild has become a really important community for me and I love being a part of it. I think now especially is a very exciting time to be a part of the guild, as we fundraise and search for a new potential building for expansion. I really enjoy being a part of that process and look forward to seeing how the KC Clay Guild continues to grow in the future. I also feel very strongly about the Guild’s mission as a non profit ceramic studio in making ceramics accessible and affordable to the Kansas City community.

2. Describe your skills, experience, and interests and how you might put it to use as a KC Clay Guild Board Member.

I think my background in the arts and ceramics, my prior experience on the board, and my experience in marketing for non profits have been beneficial in serving on the board, and I think would continue to do so.

I received my BFA and MFA in studio art and it has taken me down a few different avenues of working in the arts over the past 10+ years. I’ve had the opportunity to teach, work in a high production ceramic studio, and sell my own work. I have served on the board since 2018 as workshop chair and secretary, and have helped in organizing the holiday and spring sales. I also really enjoy serving on the strategic planning committee and helping strategize how the KC Clay Guild can continue to grow and serve our community in the future.

Professionally, I transitioned out of a career in the arts to work for a marketing agency that works exclusively with local non profits. It’s been really exciting for me to take things I learn in this role and apply those skills to fundraising and marketing ideas for the KC Clay Guild. I would really like to continue with those thoughts and ideas in helping the guild fundraise and expand to a larger building.

And in a personal sense, I try to be a good team player and am conscientious about making decisions that I hope are best and accessible for the members of the Clay Guild at large. I always really enjoy getting to know people and be a part of the guild’s community. I would love the opportunity to continue to serve on the board and help continue its growth.

Abby Callaghan - Education Chair

1. Why are you interested in serving on the KC Clay Guild Board?

I have been a teacher at the Guild since 2017 and served on the board since 2020 as Education Chair. The Guild is where I make my own work and I have gotten to know much of the community during my time here. It has been an incredibly welcoming place where anyone of any skill level can feel comfortable and are often presented with help and encouragement by the average member. I believe as a non-profit that the Guild has the unique opportunity to expand arts education by lowering the barrier of entry with our focus on accessibility. Having served on our Strategic Planning Committee since its creation, I have been involved with the attempted acquisition of a new building and I would love to be on the board to see it through. I am very excited to help our community expand!

2) Describe your skills, experience, and interests and how you might put it to use as a KC Clay Guild Board Member.

My background is in ceramics and education. After receiving my BFA from KCAI in 2017, I taught elementary art for several years and received my Masters in Teaching in 2019. I think this experience helps me plan classes, but I think my dedication to the Guild's future is my most important quality as a board candidate. Being heavily involved with the Guild has given me good insight on what the priorities of our community are. I have helped facilitate the creation of our curriculum including writing our instructor guidelines, adding an additional handbuilding class to our weekly schedule, and working alongside our education coordinator and workshop chair to create more monthly workshops. I have also worked to help create more opportunities for our volunteers and residents including organizing our first Volunteer Raku Night and relaunching our AIRS on the MOVE program.

Cindy Percival - Membership and Outreach Chair |

1) Why are you interested in serving on the KC Clay Guild Board?

I retired a few years ago and moved back to Kansas City in 2019. I’ve been a member of the Guild for a while and decided that I wanted to get more involved with a community that I love to be around.

2) Describe your skills, experience, and interests and how you might put it to use as a KC Clay Guild Board Member.

I’ve been playing in clay for over 20 years. I’ve done a little bit of everything. Wheel, handbuilding, sgraffito, underglaze painting, Raku, wood fire and have fired a few pieces in the Guild soda kiln. I work in my own studio at home, but I really enjoying going to the guild and talking with like minded people. My experience comes from more than I can count workshops, classes, and being part of a number of community studios here in Kansas City and the Bay area in California.

I worked as a Project Coordinator for a mechanical contractor, electrical contractor and an architect company. Although it’s been a while since I’ve had a real job, I can help with any type of forms or documents, helping with planning events and ideas I have from being part of other clay communities.

Cynthia Brown - Volunteer Chair

Why are you interested in serving on the KC Clay Guild Board?

I have a great passion for the KC Clay Guild. It is a unique place where everyone is welcomed, included, and treated with respect while working with clay. I am both a monitor and a teacher at the Guild and for the past year, I have been assisting the current board member in charge of the monitors as a member of the monitor committee. As he is stepping down from the board, I am eager to continue the momentum we have built and further enhance the Guild's reputation as a wonderful place to volunteer and be a member.

I am always happy to go above and beyond my duties. If elected as a board member, I would work hard to support the KC Clay Guild's mission and help shape its future.

Describe your skills, experience, and interests and how you might put it to use as a KC Clay Guild Board Member.

I am a nerdy, stay-at-home, homeschooling ceramicist with two kids. Over the years, I have worked in many different fields, and each one has left its mark on me. Wearing different hats every day has equipped me with the skills to give back to the KC Clay Guild community.

As a member of the monitor committee, I have had a unique opportunity to assist with some of the tasks of managing the monitors while observing firsthand how putting in a little effort to open communication channels and promote a sense of appreciation can greatly enhance the morale of all the staff.

As a board member, I bring my knowledge of a whole community of homeschooling families, my connection with the members and patrons who currently use the space, my understanding of websites and social media, and my experience working for non-profits. I believe in the inclusivity of all and love finding ways to use technology to make our work more efficient, giving us more time for other pursuits.

David Firman - Gallery Chair

As the current Centered Earth Gallery Director, I have added shelves and artists and have tried to create a more welcoming environment for visitors. Where we used to have about 10 artists, we now boast about 20. My idea is to showcase our members and to try and not be too elitist. To me, the Guild is a place of learning and I believe showing your work is an important part of the art world learning experience. Among other things, people learn how to display their pieces as well as how to price them. I also created the wall dedicated to the Guild’s annual Tea Bowl National show.

We began this year with a solo show of one of our Artist’s in Residence, Huey Lee and I have plans to have a couple more solo shows in 2024. I am also encouraging current members to consider showing their work in the gallery. My vision is to one day make the gallery destination where people come to not only view contemporary ceramics but also a place to purchase and collect.

I attended the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, California as well as La Verne University and received an M.F.A. in ceramics from the Claremont Graduate University. During that period, I taught adult and children in both wheel throwing and hand building for the City of Claremont as well as acted as a teacher’s assistant.

After my return to the world of clay art I found myself learning and exploring a variety of styles and techniques such soda and raku firing, and the exploration of textures in clay. My interest or I might say passion over the last few years has been Bonsai pots, learning how to throw and carve them, the history of Bonsai and this has even led to a small forest of Bonsai trees in my backyard. (Be careful what you wish for.)

Kelsie Herron - Publicity Chair

1) Why are you interested in serving on the KC Clay Guild Board?

I hope to continue to serve on the KC Clay Guild Board because I have loved watching and being a part of all of the growth our organization has gone through since i first joined the board in 2019. It has been a joy to see so many people join our community, have events sell out, break records with our sales, gather funding for new equipment, constantly be at capacity, etc.

I know the guild is capable of far more expansiveness. This expansiveness will in turn impact our community by allowing us to have the space to ensure accessibility of art to all that we can- and I look forward to hopefully contributing that.

2) Describe your skills, experience, and interests and how you might put it to use as a KC Clay Guild Board Member.

I came to KC Clay Guild as a resident artist in the fall of 2017 after receiving my BFA from University of Missouri. At the end of my residency I joined the Board of Directors and have worked as Workshops Chair and currently as Publicity Chair. I enjoy engaging with the KC Clay Guild community through social media, promoting and attending our events, and highlighting the work of our members as much as possible. I also love building relationships with people in the Kansas City arts community outside of the Guild.

I have worked as the Saturday Kid's Class instructor since 2018, and I conduct the community soda firings. With my skill set being in art and service- I have developed a passion for community arts, and I hope to be able to continue to enhance ours to the best of my abilities. I believe art is for everyone and everyone should have the opportunity to access it.

Thank you for your consideration.

Deborah Kashyap - Workshops and Events Chair

1. I have received so much from KCCG and I'd love the opportunity to give back. I moved home to Kansas city in 2022 after about a decade away. Since returning to KC, KCCG has become a home away from home for me. Aside from the incredible facility that allows for so much learning and creativity, the warm and inclusive community of artists at The Guild have become an important part of my life. I am especially impressed by KCCG's commitment to community involvement and bringing art to otherwise underserved people and places.

Having lived all over the country, and used pottery studios in several of the places I've lived, I've found that KCCG is a truly special and unusual place. We are very lucky to have such a thriving and successful community-run arts space. As an active member of this community, I'd love the opportunity to represent our members' voices on the board.

2. I've served the guild as a volunteer monitor for about a year now, and also served on the volunteer committee and on the spring sale committee. In these positions I've been fortunate to get to know many members of our community and of our current board, and to hear and understand their various perspectives on Guild events and operations. I spend a lot of time at KCCG (too much, according to my dog). This has allowed me to develop relationships and establish open communication with members, board members, and visitors to The Guild. On the board, I'd be able to bring community perspectives into decision making that impacts our KCCG community.

I started playing with clay in high school, and was admitted to several ceramics programs for my BFA. But as my husband says, I got mixed up with the wrong crowd and chose a different path. I received a B.S. from KU in Strategic Communication with a minor in Germanic Language and Literature, and a J.D. from DePaul University. Aside from a few trips here and there to local studios in the various places I lived between high school and now, I had about a 23 year break from pottery. I returned to ceramics in 2001 at a small studio in upstate NY. The studio allowed limited opportunities to work and learn pottery, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have access to KCCG. I am very vocal about how fortunate Kansas City is to have a space like ours, and on the board would do all I can to help this organization thrive.

For previous experience serving community organizations, I served as Kitchen Director, Vice President, and President of the Binghamton German Club in Binghamton, NY. In these positions I honed skills in many areas of organizational management, including membership retention and expansion, spearheading diversity and inclusivity initiatives, community outreach, event planning and marketing, volunteer recruitment and management, and facility management of our 8 acre property, event space, and beer garden. I'd love to use these skills to serve KCCG in whatever capacity our membership and board thinks I'd be most useful.

2024-2025 Board Self-Nomination due April 15

Board Election runs April 17-28

Open to all - ceramics expertise is not required. The board should reflect the diversity of our community. Board members should have passion and energy for our growing nonprofit.

Nominees must be KC Clay Guild members - anyone cam become a member, $60 per year. Click here to set up a membership.

To nominate yourself, email ( an image of yourself and answers to the following questions:

1. Why are you interested in serving on the KC Clay Guild Board?

2. Describe your skills, experience, and interests and how you might put it to use as a KC Clay Guild Board Member.

Please put the text in the body of the email and the image as an attachment. 

Board of Directors benefits include free studio access and one free 4-week class per year.


KC Clay Guild is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 200 West 74th Street, Kansas City, MO 64114

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