Civita Institute Board of Directors

Nancy Josephson, President
Nancy joined the Board of Directors in 2007 and is serving as President, 2018-2020. She considers the Civita Institute to be the living legacy of the late UW professor emerita Astra Zarina and her husband, architect Tony Costa-Heywood. She first visited Civita in 1984 as a teaching assistant to Professor Zarina and her study there and throughout Italy enriched her Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University, 1988. Her extensive career has focused on the design and construction of award-winning public schools in the Pacific Northwest, both in architectural practice and working for public school districts. She brings significant board experience to the Institute, having served as president of both the Washington Chapter of Educational Facility Planners International (dba A4LE) and the Cherokee Owner’s Corporation in Manhattan. During her years on the Civita Institute Board, Nancy has served as Treasurer; was instrumental in developing the Chapters Committee, which now boasts a dynamic Northeast Chapter; and established the Continuing Education Committee which offers AIA Learning Units in face-to-face settings and online at
Iole Alessandrini, Past President, 2016-2018
Born and raised in Italy, Iole is an architectural graduate of the University of Washington in Seattle, as well as from the University la Sapienza in Rome, Italy and received her Fine Arts diploma from the First State School of Fine Arts in Rome. She first met professor Astra Zarina in Rome in 1993 on the occasion of the SDO–an international competition–and this meeting was crucial to her relocation to Seattle. Iole’s life and professional collaboration with her mentor began then. Today, she balances her art and architectural practices by teaching Art History (Digipen Institute of Technology) and Color Theory (Seattle Central College). Her work moves through and lies at the intersection between diverse creative expressions – art and architecture. She is a 1996 NIAUSI Fellow, and has served as a Civita Institute director since 2000 and President from 2016-18. Together with professor Astra Zarina, her husband Tony Costa Heywood, and other members of the Institute she helped the Civita Institute obtain the World Monuments’ Fund 100 Most Endangered Site Designation in 2006.  In 2019, in collaboration with and with support from the Institute, the Museo Delle Frane in Civita and the Comune di Bagnoregio she designed Astra Zarina in Civita, an exhibition honoring the life of her mentor professor Astra Zarina. View her work here.
Stephen Day, AIA
Stephen, principal and founder of Stephen Day Architecture PLLC in Seattle, is an architect and developer focusing on the revitalization of historic buildings and cultural properties; an awardee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Honor Award, of Historic Seattle's honor award, and a Washington SHPO honoree. Working with Astra Zarina in Rome as a student, and later as her teaching assistant in Italy, was a profound experience that still resonates in his life and work. Stephen was honored to be the NIAUSI president for 6 years during a pivotal time for the organization, leading the efforts in transferring the Civita properties and collections, and in furthering the long-held goal of of establishing The Civita Institute in Italy for fellowships, residencies, research and education, centered on these remarkable historic properties. 
Cathy Dempsey
Cathy has over 35 years experience in the development and construction industry in the Seattle area. As Senior Manager at Hines, her responsibilities include management of all activities associated with projects from design and entitlements through construction. In the community, Cathy has been on the board of the Tavon Learning Center for 14 years, serving as Chairman since 2014. She studied in Anita Lehmann's Depictive and Evocative drawing program in Civita, and recently served on the volunteer 2020 Fellowship jury.
Erica Hanson
Erica has worked in product and apparel design and manufacturing for large and small companies, including Seattle Opera and Eddie Bauer, for more than 20 years, and is the founder of EH Works, a Seattle company whose mission is to design products that reference the best of the past and pass on stories of their use to future generations. She was an active volunteer at La Passeggiata, the Civita Institute's 2019 Annual Fundrasing Gala.

Sharon Mentyka, Secretary  
Sharon is a graphic designer, educator and writer practicing in Seattle with a BFA in Communications Design and an MFA in Creative Writing. She is a principal of the graphic design firm and sponsor of the Civita Institute Climate Action Fellowship, Partners in Design in Seattle, where she specializes in book and public information design for cultural and public organizations, and has taught design as an adjunct professor at both Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Her historical fiction book Chasing at the Surface published by Westwinds Press for readers aged 9-12 received the 2016 National Outdoor Book Award (NOBA) in the Children’s category. Think Smart, Be Fearless: A Biography of Bill Gates, was published by Sasquatch Books in 2019. As the 2012 Astra Zarina Fellowship recipient, Sharon created a series of storytelling maps, using visual means to create an 'atlas' designed to envision Civita through multiple lenses, some of which might include culture, geography, food, history and the built environment. The visual results of her fellowship and her contemporaneous notes can be found here on her design blog. 

Clark Pickett, Treasurer
Clark has been a long-time supporter and member of the Board.  He joined in 1999 to introduce and work specifically with Professor Astra Zarina and Tony Costa Heywood on their proposal to donate the Civita property to NIAUSI. He served as Board President from 2003-2006 and, along with several board members helped Civita obtain the coveted World Monuments’ Fund 100 Most Endangered Site Designation in 2006.  It was, however, his studies under Astra in Civita and Rome that inspired his passion for Italy and its cultural relevance to design issues of today.  Professionally, Clark is a Senior Associate and Interior Architecture Design lead at NBBJ working around the world on projects from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to currently leading the interior architecture practice in the London office.

Katherine Wright
Katherine is a licensed Architect in Washington State, and a professional Architectural Illustrator. She and her family moved to Italy in 2005. Free to explore & discover, she soon became involved in the Italian art world. By 2011, she was a partner a local gallery and was teaching watercolors to the community. She has shown her watercolor works throughout Italy. A 2015 Civita Institute Fellowship recipient, Katherine spent September 2016 in Civita di Bagnoregio to interview the local elders, past participants of the program, take videos of “la Tonna”, research historic books and photos, hike the difficult terrain, and create a record of this living heritage before it is forgotten. The result is a 10-minute documentary, “The Role of the Donkey in Civita di Bagnoregio.” Katherine’s passions are painting, hiking, skiing, and returning often to Italy to spend time with friends. You can see some of her work at  Photo credit: Brian Stanton