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 ★
Michele Levy, President
Michele brings over 30 years of experience in brand development and marketing to her current work as brand strategy consultant to nonprofit organizations. She also brings a decade of experience with Smirkus and the circus world to her role as a volunteer — her son Chase Levy (currently studying at École Nationale de Cirque) is an alum of Smirkus Camp and of the Big Top Tour.
Jill D’Andrea Fischmann, Vice President
Jill lived in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles for many years, working for a member of Congress (Tony Coelho, D-CA), NBC, CBS, the National Association of Broadcasters and WETA, the PBS/NPR dual licensee. Her performance credits include ten years with the Hexagon Political Comedy Troupe. Since moving back to her hometown in 2012, Jill has worked with a socially conscious documentary film company and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In 2020 she became a Program Manager at Xilio Therapeutics, a cancer immunotherapy biotech. Her daughters have been attending Smirkus Camp since 2015.
Bruce Novich, Treasurer
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.
Laura Brewer, Secretary
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).
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.
Beth Binns Schoellkopf
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.
Tristan Avelina Cunningham
Tristan is the Cirque Kids program director at Cirque School LA, a position she previously held at the San Francisco Circus Center. She is a professional actor and was most recently featured in the second season of Family Reunion on Netflix. A very proud alumna of Smirkus Big Top Tour (1995-2002), Tristan also worked at Smirkus Camp (2003-2006) as a counselor and acro coach. She has worked or performed with Circus Bella, Velocity Circus, Prescott Circus Theater, San Francisco Mime Troupe, Jumbo Shrimp Circus and The Medical Clown Project. She holds a B.F.A in Theater Arts and Film from S.U.N.Y Purchase.
Belmont, MA & Burke, VT
Claire is an administrative professional with Boston University School of Medicine. She has been organizing continuing medical education conferences for the past 20 years and has another decade of event experience in the private sector. Her interests include everything Vermont including mountain biking, hiking, and traveling. She divides her time between Belmont, Massachusetts and Burke, Vermont. Claire is a longtime fan of all things Smirkus. Her daughter has attended Smirkus Camp since 2015.
Bob has worked for more than thirty years in the field of human resources and employment law. He is currently the Senior Human Resources Business Partner at Milgard Windows & Doors. Volunteer work has included service on a nonprofit board and several economic development boards. Bob and his wife, former Smirkus board member Kimberly Grove, have three children. Their daughter Hannah was a Smirkus trouper and is currently studying at École National de Cirque. Bob is an avid mountain biker.
In 1991 Kate ran off to join the circus, attending Smirkus Camp and then joining the Big Top Tour (1992-1997). After a decade in management in the service industry, she received her master’s degree in International Human Rights from the University of Denver and moved into nonprofit sector work. Kate is currently with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains as the Director of Payer Relations. She enjoys traveling the world with her husband, a retired NHL player, and her two daughters while also spending as much time as possible outside, volunteering in her kids’ classrooms and at the Desert Botanic Gardens.
South Portland, ME
Justin is a former gymnast and a former minor league baseball and basketball mascot, turned attorney. At his law firm, LeBlanc & Young, he focuses on estate planning, and trust and estate administration. He has served on several nonprofit boards in Maine and Georgia. Justin has two sons – Andrew, an organic chemistry student, and Theo, a former Smirkus camper and trouper, who studies circus arts at École de Cirque de Québec. Justin, a longtime Smirkus volunteer, is proud to be a three-ball juggler who can still safely complete some rudimentary tumbling without injuring himself.
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.
Miriam is Managing Director of Brain Educators, LLC, a medical publishing company. Previously she spent more than three decades in the field of nonprofit management and program development and served as a Chaplain at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Other pursuits have included dance performance, choreography, and instruction and the production of arts events. Since 2000, when her son Rafi Benjamin became a Smirkus camper and later a trouper and a camp coach, her family has been part of the Smirkus family through multiple roles in and out of the circus ring.
Dan is currently a private equity investor at Endicott Growth Equity Partners, leveraging his 20 years of experience in technology-enabled information services and financial industries. Dan previously worked at S&P Global in a strategy and corporate development role, after being part of the senior leadership of SNL Financial, a fast-growing private company acquired by S&P Global. Dan also has worked as an investment banker and is an active private angel investor and advisor. Dan grew up in Plainfield, VT and has lived in Charlottesville, VA for over 15 years with his wife Jen, a neurologist, and their two daughters who are both Smirkus campers, regular Smirkus Big Top Tour attendees, and big Smirkus@Home fans.
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.
★ HONORARY BOARD MEMBERS ★
John & Lisa Hewett
Julia Child (1912-2004)
Marcel Marceau (1923-2007)
Tim Holst (1947-2009)
★ FORMER BOARD MEMBERS ★
Jane Fisher (Past President)
Gail Neale (Past President)
Neil Saunders (Past President)
Linda S. Schiffer (Past President)
Bill Schubart (Past President)
Debby Stein Sharpe (Past President)