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.
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.
Social Circus Director
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.
Development and Marketing Associate
Ciarra grew up in the circus at Camp Winnarainbow, a social justice focused circus summer camp. There, she discovered her love for aerial arts and the incredible power of circus to transform lives. She further developed her passion for the intersection of art and social justice through her work as a head aerial coach and senior staff supervisor at Camp Winnarainbow and as the program coordinator for the Community Engagement and Leadership in Science (CELS) program. In these positions, she further cultivated her interests in non-profit work, fundraising, and program development. A dancer, choreographer, and aerialist with a passion for non-profit and social justice work, Ciarra is excited to work with the Circus Project. She first discovered the Circus Project as a member of the adult training company and assistant coach. She is now excited to be a full-time part of the Circus Project team!
Rhen Miles, MSW
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.