Jenn has worked as a professional circus performer and coach for over two decades. Her training includes: The Circus Space in London, Dell’ Arte International School of Physical Theatre, sacred clown & buffoon with Sue Morrison, and Chinese acrobatics with Master Lu Yi. Jenn performed extensively in ensemble theaters throughout the US, and as a solo aerial artist in Europe. She was a tenured instructor at the San Francisco Circus Center and worked as a choreography consultant for Teatro Zin Zanni. Jenn also served as vice‐president of the American Youth Circus Organization, and on the resource council of Circus Now. Jenn is known for inventing a number of original aerial apparatus’, most notably, the Single‐Point Cloud Swing, the now widely used Triangle Trapeze, and the Maypole Tissu. Jenn holds a master’s degree in Process Oriented Psychology and uses that work’s unique approach to individual and collective change to create innovative choreography. In 2011, Jenn received the Skidmore Prize, a recognition for young nonprofit leaders. She recently spoke at TEDx which features short talks by “Portland’s most innovative and inspiring minds,” and was featured on “Turning Point,” a nationally‐syndicated public broadcasting program.
Kirsten was involved with the Circus Project for several years as a board member and grant writer before becoming Managing Director in 2016. A lifelong love of performing arts and a fascination with the world behind-the- scenes led to dual degrees in Theatre and Psychology from Lewis & Clark College, and a career in arts administration. As a development consultant she raised over $5 million for arts and culture organizations in Oregon, and received a Crystal Award from Willamette Valley Development Officers in recognition of her contributions to The Circus Project.
Academy Director and Coach
Erica first discovered circus while studying neuroscience and dance at Oberlin College. With a background in competitive gymnastics, circus seemed a natural fit. She trained extensively in her specialty of basing acrobatics at Circus Center in San Francisco, Australia’s National Institute of Circus Arts, and the School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA) in Seattle. Erica has taught students of all ages and levels in workshops across the country, and served as Director of Youth Companies at SANCA. Passionate about connecting people and resources, Erica has organized multiple national circus conferences through Circus Now and the American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO). Erica performs with Acrobatic Conundrum and Terry Crane as duo Retro Verso, a genre and gender challenging partner acrobatics duet that flips our preconceptions on their head. Past performances include Flynn Creek Circus, the Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival, Teatro Zinzanni’s Mezzo Lunatico, and the Backstreet Festival in Alexandria, Egypt.
Pathways Specialist, Partnership Coordinator and Coach
Saidah Wilson started her upside-down career in artistic gymnastics at the age of 2. She switched to acrobatic gymnastics in 2003 and trained and competed in several women's pairs at the state, regional and national level until 2008.
Saidah has trained under, and coached alongside several great acrobatic coaches, including Arthur Davis III, Sheri Reiakvam, Stefan Furst, and Yuri Vorobyev. During and after her competitive career, Saidah has coached preschool and school-age gymnasts and acrobats. She has also studied Child Development, which allows her to bring creativity and an understanding of children's social, physical and mental progress. Saidah currently develops acrobatic gymnastics programs and is building her circus and acrobatic repertoire.
Committed to diversity and making circus accessible to everyone, Saidah has been working with the Social Circus program since 2012.
Linda Sheeley brings more than 15 years of office management, finance and nonprofit experience to the Circus Project. After transitioning to nonprofit work from investment banking, Linda worked as an Office Manager for an environmental trade association and as a Development Specialist for a child abuse assessment program. A transplant from the mid-west, Linda has made Portland her home for over 20 years and believes that “Keeping Portland Weird” is a mantra we should all live by.
Student Services Manager
Jackie comes to the Circus Project with 8 years of coaching experience, in addition to growing up as a competitive gymnast. She has coached multiple gymnasts to become state and regional champions. Jackie currently directs a tumbling program and leads acrobatic and artistic gymnastics curriculums. She delights in merging her gymnastics background with the circus world.
Jackie holds a Masters in Small Business Administration and is looking forward to use this in collaboration with her coaching background to create a positive environment for all to push themselves past their previous boundaries and explore their movement.
Jacki Ward Kehrwald
Communications and Event Manager
Jacki has nearly a decade of experience as a professional circus artist, including contracts with AIDA Cruises, the Acrobatic Conundrum, and Cavalia's Odysseo, touring in the biggest Big Top in the world. Throughout her performing experiences, she became a primary spokesperson for these artistic companies and nurtured a professional interest in communications. Jacki holds a Bachelor's of Arts from the University of Puget Sound where she studied Anthropology of the Performing Arts and Gender Studies and founded the on-campus Circus Club, which is still thriving. She was a 2011-2012 recipient of the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, through which she traveled to Mongolia, China, India, France and Canada to study local performance traditions and training methods in contortion and the circus arts. She is delighted to merge her two professional passions of communications and the circus arts and to return to her hometown of Portland, Oregon after years of living on tour.
Rhen Miles, MSW
Pathways Manager and Coach
Rhen's passion is her work at the intersection of circus arts and community-based practice, program development, and equity-driven systemic improvement. Rhen brings over 10 years of experience in non-profit youth development programming, community-driven program improvement, evaluation, and research. In each of these arenas she has incorporated participatory and inclusive practices to elevate marginalized voices and change systems and organizations to be relevant, equitable, and socially just. When she is not training in circus arts or coaching, she is usually teaching in the Social Work program at Portland State University, or working on her doctoral dissertation on youth voice and participatory practice in a school-based youth development organization.
The Circus Project board of directors is a small, working board, comprised of individuals who are passionate about circus arts as a vehicle for transformation. We believe that the spirit with which our board of directors operates has a direct and tangible effect on our programs and participants, and therefore we strive to create an atmosphere of creativity, diversity, collaboration, and inspiration.
Jenn Cohen, Founder & Director, The Circus Project, Process Worker
Linda McGeady, RACC Board, Randall Children's Hospital Art Committee
Caroline Petrich, Principal, CKP & Associates
Nelda Reyes, Principal, AB Cultural Drivers & Performer
Hertsel Shadian, Attorney at Law
Teresa Koberstein, Arts Facility Planning Specialist
The Circus Project Resource Council is a comprised of highly esteemed donors and volunteers who provide outstanding service to the organization on a project-by-project basis.
Pippa Arend, Program Director, p:ear
Jennifer Bouman, Attorney, Red Kite Employment Law
Representative Margaret Doherty, Oregon State Legislature
Ann Edlen, Philanthropist
City Commissioner Nick Fish, Arts & Cultural Council
Lisa Lovullo, Claim Professional, Travelers Insurance
Phelim McDermott, Director, Improbable Theatre, UK & Broadway, New York
Jordan Schnitzer, President, Harsch Investment Properties
Kate Sokoloff, Creative Director, Kate Sokoloff Creative
George Thorn, Arts Action Research
Julie Vigeland, Oregon Arts Commission, Jackson Foundation, & Arts advocate
Qualified circus coaches are considered for employment on an ongoing basis. For consideration, please submit resume with education, performance and coaching experience along with any relevant certificates and video of your work.
The Circus Project Performance Troupe books per gig in order to hire the best artist for the event or show. Accomplished circus performers with a contemporary aesthetic are encouraged to submit videos along with contact information and/or website to be considered.