An Introduction to La Romita’s Scholarship Committee

a letter from Joanna Quargnali-Linsley


I remember a gray winter day in Albuquerque, New Mexico sitting with Paola Quargnali. She was telling me about her beloved La Romita. She spoke of lush gardens, and quiet afternoons. She told me of simple, fresh and delicious food. But most of all, she told me about her love for Italy and the Italian people. We had started our conversation talking about my Italian heritage (more Southern than Umbria) and where my family traditions matched hers. Her eyes sparkled as she talked about an upcoming trip to La Romita and how excited she was that she could finally take me there, to connect to her heart, and to reconnect to mine.

I have been to La Romita many times since then, and each time I have come back with memories, inspiration, and a sense of peace. I have traveled with Workshop groups to nearby towns and watched them find corners to set up easels, or crouch down to take a photograph, or sit and write a poem. I have “scouted” sites with Edmund in times between workshops and been introduced to Viterbo, Lago di Bolsena, and more through his filter of knowledge of the history and the art and how that might apply to groups that come to La Romita. I have spent time with Alessandro, our daughter, and our extended family having leisurely meals and lots of laughter, and also saying goodbye to Paola and Enza.

In the years since Paola passed, I have often thought of the conversations I had with her about the importance of culture, community, and the space to be quiet and connect with our inner passions. La Romita continues to offer that. When the opportunity arose for me to create the Scholarship process and award others a chance to go to La Romita, I knew that Paola would love this expansion of our offerings.

I wanted to honor the intent of the money we received from the Delores Levin, and the intentions of the founders of La Romita by creating a solid process for collecting and evaluating applications, and awarding money. La Romita formed the Scholarship Committee and asked two amazing women in the arts to join me on that committee. We created mission statements, applications, and rubrics to evaluate both available scholarships.

Three years ago, we entered our first round of review completely blown away by the applicants and the quality of potential award winners. Throughout the past three years, we have refined the process, including making the submission fully available online through our website, and adjusting the high end limit of awards based on La Romita’s change from primarily 14 day workshops, to a more variable day model. We continue to re-evaluate on a yearly basis how the process is working, and how we can reach more applicants.

In three seasons of awarding scholarships, I have heard how this opportunity has not only changed the participant who attended, but their entire community. Each applicant must write a statement as part of their application about why they want to come – I have heard about journeys of self discovery, a need to restart after tragedy, a hope that someone will believe enough in them that they can keep pursuing their dream, and a desire to be a better artist, and teacher. In post interviews I have heard stories of career changing moments, newly inspired creation, rejuvenation, and excitement to take the experience back and share it. Our Delores Levin winners have all mentioned how being a student again allowed them to better understand and support their students, and to also reaffirm why they love teaching. 

Joining me on the Scholarship Committee are Katie Crain and Dr. Samantha Goss. Katie Crain has a Master’s in Arts Management and has worked for numerous arts non-profits in management and creative roles that span from systems creation to book editing and publishing to event creation and management. She also teaches Entertainment Business and has been a Juror on panels evaluating student and professional work.

Samantha Goss has a PhD in Arts Education and is a professor of Art Education at Northern Iowa University. Samantha was a Gallery manager for 4 years where her job included liaison work with the board, fundraising, events, and being head Juror for nearly all of their shows each year. I have a background in the music and entertainment industry, having taught Entertainment Business, including legal aspects, marketing and promotion, and artist management and have been a Juror on panels evaluating student and professional work. I’m honored to work with these two skilled, experienced women and love the excitement and professional approach they bring to La Romita.

In the coming weeks and months, we look forward to sharing more stories from the winners about their time at La Romita. As we gear up for 2020 application review, I also hope to begin more concerted fundraising so that we can continue to offer these awards, both the Delores Levin Memorial Scholarships and our General Scholarships. Much like Paola, I know the beauty of an Italian experience, and I want to share it with as many people as possible.


Joanna Quargnali-Linsley     November 26, 2019

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