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Welcome Jennifer Carlo

Editor’s Note: Below is a letter from new Executive Director Jennifer Carlo, followed by the original press release announcing her arrival to Circus Smirkus.

Jennifer Carlo, Ph.D.

Greetings to all the family and friends of Circus Smirkus!

I’m writing this on my eight week anniversary here on Circus Road in Greensboro, and from the minute I stepped into the ring, it has been a whirlwind!  I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend our Big Top Tour auditions earlier in January and to meet all the sublimely talented young people who will amaze you in the upcoming summer 2018 Big Top Tour!

We are geared up and ready to start hiring all the amazing staff who will support both the Tour and Camp programs this summer, and finalizing tour dates, and planning capital projects at Camp, and….the exciting list goes on!

And then, of course, we found ourselves dealing with a very difficult situation when confronted with the allegations about a former coach and honorary board member. You all received a message from me about this issue last week, and it was very different from what I had originally planned as my first communication with the whole Smirkus community.

But something else emerged last week that I could not have anticipated when I took on this challenging role. We received an outpouring of positive feedback from the Smirkus community for our communications with you last week, expressing gratitude and support for the brave former Trouper who came forward to tell her story in order to protect the safety of others. We salute and applaud this Trouper, and we thank you for your leadership, courage and example.

Last week we here at Smirkus saw some of the best of what circus brings to the world:  The embrace of a community.  A commitment to the shared values of creating safe spaces for our kids to learn and thrive.  The realization that in a fractured world, we stand together in challenges and we lift each other up.

I am deeply honored to join the Smirkus family, and I look forward to many more exciting, challenging, uplifting times along the road with all of you.

Wishing you joy and magic,

Jennifer Carlo, Ph.D.
802-533-7443 x35

Press Release — Jan. 18, 2018

Contact: Diane Zeigler, Director of Marketing & Communications | 802-839-6520

Circus Smirkus Welcomes New Executive Director Jennifer Carlo
Former Higher Education Administrator Now On Board at Circus Smirkus

GREENSBORO, VT – Circus Smirkus today announced that Jennifer Carlo, Ph.D., has been named the new Executive Director of the circus arts education organization.

Carlo is the former Vice President For Student Engagement and Dean of Students at Carlow University in Pennsylvania and comes to Smirkus with more than 25 years of leadership in higher education, youth development services, and nonprofit arts management.

In addition to her leadership at Carlow University, Carlo held senior administrative positions in student affairs and development at the University of Charleston, Jefferson College of Health Sciences, Clinton College, and Goddard College.

“I have tremendous respect for what this organization has done for the circus arts and youth development over the last three decades, and I’m honored to accept this position,” said Carlo.

“The legacy and work of Circus Smirkus really appeals to me as an educator. We live in a fractured world that needs the joy, inclusiveness, and team spirit of the circus arts now more than ever. I look forward to working with my new colleagues to keep what is a beloved Vermont arts institution thriving for years to come,” she said.

Prior to Carlo’s selection, the Circus Smirkus Board of Directors conducted a thorough national search and considered many qualified candidates from Vermont and across the country.

“We are so pleased to welcome Jen to the Smirkus family,” said Smirkus Board President Neil Saunders. “Jen brings many years of experience in business and financial management as well as a passion for working with kids. She has long held a wonder for the circus—ever since she saw her first Big Top show.”

Carlo has close ties to the Northeast, having worked in both central Vermont and upstate New York in the early years of her career.

“I’ve wanted to get back to Vermont for some time now,” said Carlo. “It’s not often that you get a chance to run away with the circus and end up back in Vermont to boot. This was an opportunity I wasn’t going to pass up!”

Carlo earned a bachelor of arts in sociology from Princeton University, a master of arts in education at Goddard College, a master of business administration from Carlow University, and a doctorate in leadership and change from Antioch University.

Located in Greensboro, Vermont, Circus Smirkus is a nonprofit arts and education organization whose mission is to promote the skills, culture and traditions of the traveling circus. Since 1987, it has inspired youth to engage in life-changing adventures in the circus arts through three principal programs: the Smirkus Big Top Tour, Smirkus Camp, and Smirkus School Residency programs.

The Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour is the only traveling youth circus in the United States. Performing under traditional European-style circus tents, the award-winning circus company performs in nearly 20 New England towns to approximately 42,000 patrons each summer. Circus Smirkus Camp offers circus arts training in a summer camp setting, while Circus Smirkus Residencies provide integrated circus arts education in schools throughout the school year. Learn more at