The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts has a lot to celebrate as it enters its 50th year. Founded by a small group of highly committed and passionate artist-educators, NCECA has benefitted from the time and talents of many great individuals that have served on its board of directors. Paul Sacaridiz who has served as NCECA’s President Elect since the conclusion of the 2014 conference, has been one of the most gifted, generous and visionary of NCECA’s recent leadership cohorts. The Haystack Mountain School of Crafts recognized Paul’s abilities and qualities of character when they recently selected him as their next executive director. NCECA wishes Paul and his family well as they transition to a new life in Deer Isle, Maine later this summer.

We, who love ceramic art, often celebrate its qualities of chance and transformation. As in life, change and growth sometimes engender bittersweet challenges. NCECA recently arrived at one of these critical turning points, when at the conclusion of its June meeting in Kansas City, Paul informed us that he would be stepping away from the remainder of his term as NCECA’s President Elect. Fully engaging in his new responsibilities as Haystack’s leader, as well as the transitions of his family will demand his full attention.

NCECA immediately went to work on identifying a respected leader in our field who had the will, ability and vision to contribute to the organization through the remainder of the president elect term and cycle on to become its next president. Following several weeks of emails and thoughtful conversations, we are pleased to announce that Chris Staley will become NCECA President Elect, when Paul Sacaridiz resigns the role in mid-August. Chris will serve out the remainder of Paul’s term as President Elect. Current President, Deb Bedwell will transition to Past President of NCECA following the closing ceremonies of the March 2016 NCECA conference in Kansas City, and Chris will become NCECA’s new President.

Chris Staley joined the faculty of Penn State University in 1990. In 2007 he received Penn State’s Graduate Faculty Teaching Award, and was named a Distinguished Professor in 2008. As the 2012-13 Penn State Laureate, Staley continued to expand the reach and impact of his role as a teacher by developing with filmmaker Cody Goddard a series of videos on creativity designed to bring greater awareness to art’s integration with learning and the world. About his new role in NCECA’s presidential cycle, Chris relates, “Can you imagine if NCECA never existed?  It is hard to do this given how much NCECA has contributed to students, makers and teachers in the ceramic arts. It has existed and prospered for 50 years because of the service of so many devoted individuals in our field. Under the excellent leadership of Executive Director Josh Green and the existing dedicated and talented NCECA Board members, I am honored to have been asked to be President Elect. It is with humility and enthusiasm that I look forward to serving NCECA to the best of my abilities.”

Chris Staley’s works are included in the International Museum of Ceramic Art, Fuping, China; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England; and the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, Washington D.C., among others. A past Director at Large for NCECA, Chris has served on the board of the Archie Bray Foundation, and at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts as its chair. In addition to his work as an artist and educator, Chris has also been highly influential as a speaker and writer. He believes that sincerity plays a critical role in learning and the creative process, writing, “The essence of making pots for me is about being human. It’s about fragility and strength. It’s about the intimate moment when the handle of a cup touches the hand. Pots are about potential.”

NCECA asks you to join us in relaying messages of thanks and welcome. We express gratitude to Paul Sacaridiz for his past guidance and vision, as we look forward to his involvement in future NCECA efforts though in a different role. Let’s extend salutations and welcome to Chris Staley whose new leadership role on NCECA’s Board of Directors begins next month as he assumes the remainder of the President Elect’s term. Chris will transition to NCECA’s Presidency at the close of Makers, Mentors and Milestones, our March 2016 conference in Kansas City.

Please remember that NCECA will continue to search for excellent candidates for the next President Elect cycle that begins with the conclusion of the same conference. The nominations deadline for this and other positions on NCECA’s Board of Directors is September 16, 2015.