The Clay Studio of Missoula Staff

Shalene Valenzuela -  Executive Director

Shalene arrived at the Clay Studio of Missoula in 2007 as an artist-in-residence. She served on the board of directors from 2011-12, and was hired as the Executive Director in 2012. She came to The Clay Studio of Missoula with an extensive amount of experience as an educator, administrator, and artist. 

Shalene received a BA in Art Practice at the University of California at Berkeley and an MFA in Ceramics from California College of Arts and Crafts. For several years in Oakland, she ran a gallery in a cooperative studio space, while working as an administrative assistant for The Consortium for the Arts/Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley (2000-2007). Shalene also has an extensive amount of teaching experience. She has taught at Flathead Valley Community College, University of Montana, Oregon College of Art and Craft, The Clay Studio of Missoula, Missoula Art Museum, Richmond Art Center, ASUC Studios at UC Berkeley, and California College of Art Extended Education. Shalene has been a guest artist and speaker at a number of art centers, colleges, universities, and conferences. Her ceramic work has been featured in several group and solo exhibitions nationally and is in a number of private and public collections. She has also been a resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation, LH Project (OR), and Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts (ME). She was the recipient of the Jessie Wilber and Frances Senska Individual Artist’s Innovation Award from the Montana Arts Council in 2013.

Kelly Seitz - Education and Outreach Coordinator

Kelly is a dedicated educator with a passion for bringing creative thinking to people of all ages, but especially young people. She started out as a Clay Studio UM Summer resident in 2018, stayed on as an intern helping with the outreach program, as well as an instructor for youth programs. Kelly left Missoula to gain more teaching experience in the field, and worked as a K-12 Art Teacher in the town of White Sulphur Springs, Montana for several years before returning to Missoula in 2021. 

Kelly earned a BFA in Ceramics with an endorsement in art education from the University of Montana. She’s been interested in education and nonprofit work since she was very young, and spent much of her teen and early adult life volunteering and working for programs invested in the care of the community and wellbeing of the next generation. Some standout programs she has worked with include the Flagship Program, the Stevens Youth Center, and the ZACC. Making art and creativity accessible to as many young people as possible is one of her goals in life. Kelly is also an emerging artist who works both in ceramics and digital art, and hopes to become a bigger part of the art community in Missoula.

Donna Flanery - Studio Manager​


Donna Flanery was hired as our Studio Manager in 2016, and tends to the number of operational tasks that help maintain a safe and efficient ceramics educational facility. Donna has a strong commitment to community, education and making sure students are working in a functional and harmonious studio environment.

Donna received her MFA from the University of Florida in 2013 and her BFA in 2005 from the University of Montana. She returned to Missoula in 2015 as a resident at The Clay Studio of Missoula after spending time as a teaching studio artist in Asheville, NC. She has also been a resident artist at The Archie Bray Foundation, The Northern Clay Center, The Pottery Workshop in Shanghai, China, and The Zentrum fur Keramic, in Berlin, Germany. Her narrative pottery has been widely exhibited and collected, and she has taught numerous ceramics classes at her residencies and MFA program.


Lee Stuurmans - Facilities Coordinator

Lee Stuurmans was employed as the studio manager from 2013-16, until he decided to focus on developing an independent studio practice. We were recently able to bring Lee back on in a new capacity, where he focuses on numerous special maintenance and facility improvement projects for the Clay Studio of Missoula. As Facilities Coordinator, he also serves as the chair of the facilities committee.

Lee first came to The Clay Studio of Missoula as an intern in 2010, when he transferred to the University on Montana after focusing on ceramics at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs (CO). Lee has spent his time in Missoula developing an elaborate body of slipcast functional and sculptural ceramic works, while amassing a wealth of new skills. He recently completed a welding course and spent time in Eugene, OR at an intensive custom bike building workshop. His interest in innovation and learning, combined with his commitment to our local ceramics community makes him a valued and cherished member of our studio staff.

Christina Harrelson - Administrative Assistant


Christina has recently joined the team at The Clay Studio of Missoula in 2020 after being involved for years.  First, as an Outreach Intern in 2017, Christina helped engage the public with ceramics arts in ways not limited to but including being a certified CATBOT technician and repairs-person.  She has been engaged with the studio as a student, volunteer, studio artist and member.  A woodfire focused potter, she recently organized the 2019 Ladyfire woodfiring at The Clay Studio of Missoula's anagama kiln. We're excited by the energy, empathy, leadership and organization she is already bringing to The Clay Studio.

Interns at The Clay Studio of Missoula

Patrick Hoban (studio/woodfire)
John Dunkum (studio)

Marnie Prange (studio)

The Clay Studio of Missoula Board of Directors

Jason Neal (President)
Courtney Murphy (Vice President)
Susan Carlson (Treasurer)
Richard Smith (Secretary)

Kathie Dewitt

Liz Dybdal
James Heath
Katie Heath
Trey Hill
Mike Kurz 
Cathryn Mallory