Who’s Who: Board of Directors

The Smirkus Board of Directors


Often spotted as Ticket Takers, Ushers, and Parkers during the Big Top Tour, the board works tirelessly to keep our tent tops high, our popcorn popping, and our aerialists soaring above the crowd.

SITTING BOARD MEMBERS ★                                           

Neil Saunders, President
Maynard, MA
Neil recently retired as the Executive Director of Victory Productions, Inc., an educational publishing development company based in Worcester, Massachusetts. Born and educated in England, he moved to the United States in 1977. Among his interests are soccer, the theatre, craft beers, genealogy, and all things literary. Neil’s daughter Olivia is a former Smirkus camper and trouper (2009 to 2012), who graduated from École de Cirque de Québec in 2017.

Carole Parker, Vice President & Secretary
Piedmont, CA/Warren, VT
Carole is a policy analyst, program manager, community leader, and fundraiser with 30 years of experience. She has served as journalist, legislative staff, and White House political appointee at the Department of Defense and the Environmental Protection Agency. Carole now independently consults to nonprofits, business, and government, and is an active Board Member of the Global Health Media Project, supporting health care in the most underserved regions of the world. She is the parent of three children, Haley, William, and Graham, all of whom have attended Smirkus Camp. Graham was also a trouper on the Big Top Tour for the 2016-2018 seasons.

Kathryn Sarken, Treasurer
Watertown, MA
Kathryn brings over 20 years of experience in non-profit financial management and grants and contracts administration. Currently a homeschooling parent, artist (photography), and writer, she is passionate about kindness, inclusion, and community; the power of circus to change lives; and spreadsheets, serial commas, and a good cup of tea. She and her wife live circus in numerous ways including as Smirkus adult campers and the parents of a Smirkus youth camper.

Stew Arnold
Greensboro, VT
Stew retired from a career as a project manager in software development and from many years as an active volunteer for youth sports and scouting organizations. A long-time summer and now year-round resident of Greensboro, Stew has watched and supported Circus Smirkus since its first days when Rob Mermin and his dog Rufus performed their first show on the village green. He is a Smirkus Adult Camp alumni and continues to live the circus magic.

Josh Aviner
New York, NY
Josh is a co-founder and the Chief Executive Officer of HIDEAWAY, a new kind of American circus. Since age 13, when he ran away to Smirkus, he has had an unrelenting passion for creating unique and memorable live experiences. He previously led casting at Spiegelworld, overseeing shows at Caesar’s Palace and the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Josh also worked on casting and consulting for The PT Barnum Festival, The Late Show with David Letterman, Sleep No More, TRACES, and The Box. He is completing an MFA at Columbia University in Theatrical Producing, and holds a BFA from New York University in Film Producing.

Beth Binns Schoellkopf
Warren, VT
Beth is a management consultant and strategic planner in the green economy. She builds partnerships across multiple stakeholder groups, including businesses, investors, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, state and federal entities, international organizations, foundations, and grant makers. Beth is currently co-chair of Phantom Theater, founding board member of Sculpture School, and co-chair of the Warren Energy Committee. Her son Brin is a former Smirkus camper and trouper, graduate of the École Nationale de Cirque, and currently on a world tour with the company 7 Fingers.

Laura Brewer
Cambridge, MA
Having spent 25 years as a researcher, editor, piano tuner/technician, and perennial student—earning a Ph.D. in literature at age 43—Laura then became a stay-at-home mom and community volunteer. She serves on the Board of Community Cooks, which partners with Boston area human service agencies by mobilizing volunteers to provide healthy, home-cooked meals for their clients. She has been an enthusiastic supporter of Smirkus since bringing her then 4-year-old twins to their first show in 2000. Her daughter, Grace Gershenfeld, a long-time counselor at Smirkus Camp, holds the record for the number of years as a Smirkus Camper (12).

Kimberly Grove
Blacksburg, VA
Kimberly has a passion for customer service and community outreach. She worked for large corporations as a Director of Call Centers before shifting gears to stay at home with her three children. She has 20 years’ experience as a Boy Scout leader, adviser, and fundraising committee chair. Kimberly also led the largest Girl Scout troop in Orange County, CA—whose 24 girls were the top cookie sellers in the local organization—and has worked on numerous fundraising boards including community swim and gymnastics teams. Her daughter Hannah started performing with the Smirkus Big Top Tour in 2016.

Brian Miron
Bedford, NH
Brian retired from Pyramis Global Advisors/Fidelity Asset Management in 2015 after 15 years working as a research analyst and portfolio manager. He is currently involved with numerous non-profit organizations, serving as President of Friends of Canada’s National Ballet School as well as being on the Board of The University of St. Michael’s College, The University of Toronto, and Flying Gravity Circus. Educated in Canada, Brian now lives in New Hampshire and has two children, Jack and Ben, both of whom have been Smirkus campers and troupers.

Bruce Novich
Providence, RI
In addition to various wider corporate responsibilities as a Division President, Bruce now leads FUJIFILM’s new Life Science Strategic Business headquarters in Cambridge, MA. He also sits on several for-profit boards in addition to supporting Smirkus on the non-profit side. Bruce lives in Providence with his wife Susan, a children’s book writer and illustrator, who had previously served on the Smirkus Board, and with their faithful rescued dog Coco. Their son Spencer was a Smirkus camper and went on tour in 2005 and 2006. They have two other grown children, Scott and Corey, who attended many Smirkus shows in their youth.

Robert Sanson
Saratoga Springs, NY
Robert recently retired as a computer engineer working for the Department of Veterans Affairs leading the Active Directory Infrastructure team. He spent 10 years both as a trouper parent (both sons) and a Presenter, having helped establish the Saratoga Springs site for the Big Top Tour. His younger son also attended Smirkus Camp for several years and graduated from École Nationale de Cirque in Montreal. Robert is also an avid Smirkus photographer and competitive speed skater.

Joshua Wachs
Arlington, MA
Joshua has been merging creativity and technology for the last 30+ years. Formerly CEO and Managing Partner of Echo & Co., an internet strategy and consulting firm, he previously founded and served as President, CEO, and visionary of Natural Intelligence, Inc., known for
its innovative custom technology. He serves on the board of several arts and educational non-profits. Joshua is also a retired professional magician. His son was a Smirkus camper.

Jim Zien
Thetford, VT
Jim was the Chief Executive Officer of The Aloha Foundation, the nonprofit owner and operator of three residential summer camps, a family camp, a day camp, and a year-round outdoor education center in Fairlee, VT. Previously Jim managed the community-serving programs of The Boston Children’s Museum and led initiatives in institutional, community, and real estate planning and development through his consulting practice, Public Placemakers.


John & Lisa Hewett
Curtis Ingham
Ed Koren
Norman Lear
Paul Zaloom
Julia Child (1912-2004)
Marcel Marceau (1923-2007)
Tim Holst (1947-2009)


Scott Atherton
David Barash
Jane Culbert
Debra Ellis
Jane Fisher (Past President)
Shelley Glassner
Francey Grund
Mark Heyman
Michele Levy (Past President)
Pam Lodish
Fred Nanni
Gail Neale (Past President)
Susan Novich
Dick Plotz
Dan Reicher
Pam Reynolds
Richard Reynolds
Elinor Ross
Miriam Rosenblum (Past Preseident)
Richard Saudek
Linda S. Schiffer (Past President)
Bill Schubart (Past President)
Tom Shampnois
Steve Shepherd
Brian Slater
Nick Speltz
Rob Smart
Debby Stein Sharpe (Past President)
Ben Winship
Nancy Wright