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NECCA Announces New Leadership

July 20, 2017

Brattleboro, VT—The New England Center for Circus Arts has announced that effective July 20, 2017, the board of directors has elected seven new members and hired an interim executive director and an operations director. The board has also rescinded the termination letters sent to founders and artistic directors Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion, and invited the return of those coaches who resigned in protest recently.

The changes come in the wake of two weeks of uncertainty following the abrupt termination of the founders, a coaches strike in response, and a significant outpouring of community support for the coaches and the founders in Brattleboro and throughout the international circus community.

“NECCA’s coaches are central to its mission,” new board president, Elizabeth Wohl said. “We are so fortunate that their commitment to their students runs so deep. We are also deeply grateful for the service and commitment shown by all past board members. They have built NECCA a building that all of Brattleboro can take pride in.”

With the return of the founders and coaches, NECCA expects that all previously scheduled classes and activities will proceed.

Members of the new board are Elizabeth Wohl, a local attorney; Martin Langeveld, former publisher of the Brattleboro Reformer and several other regional newspapers; Lisa Sullivan, entrepreneur and owner of Bartleby’s Books; Solveig Gannon-Kurowski, partner and project manager at LogicBranch Productions; Eileen Marie Sheppard, local artist and small business woman; Dr. Kathleen McGraw, chief medical officer at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital; and Kate Law, circus professional and co-artistic director at Bow & Sparrow. Law and Wohl have formerly served on the NECCA board. At the same time, the three remaining members of the prior board have resigned. They are Mel Martin, Tracy Prentiss, and Linda Shrier Schiffer.

The board has hired Jeffrey Lewis to serve as interim executive director and Jamie Hodgson to serve as operations director. Lewis is former executive director of Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation. He is the chief executive officer of Apetrop USA, an insurance consulting company based in Brattleboro, and has held senior management positions with Massachusetts Mutual, Phoenix Life, and Monster.com. Hodgson has been with NECCA for 10 years, serving as program director of its Intensive Program and more recently the ProTrack program. (She returns after resigning last week.) Hodgson is also Artistic Director of the group "Girls on Trapeze,” which performs and offers workshops throughout the United States.

“The challenges that face NECCA have not gone away,” Lewis noted. “However, we believe that we have a team in place that can tackle those challenges methodically. This has always been an organization that depends upon community support, and we need that support now more than ever. Please sign up for classes and lessons. Come visit our new building and see our dreams for the future.”


A non-profit organization founded in 2007, the New England Center for Circus Arts offers the largest and longest-running professional circus training program in the United States. In addition it trains students of all ages and abilities in aerials, acrobatics, juggling and more.

NECCA’s coaches come from a wide variety of backgrounds including social circus, dance, creative movement, and a wide variety of professional circuses. All students share the spaces at the school — rather than separating students in various programs, they are encouraged to learn in an open, collaborative, supportive area where all have equal access.

* * *


Elizabeth Wohl (Board President) — 802-399-1254 — elizabeth.r.wohl@gmail.com

Jeffrey Lewis (Interim Executive Director) — 802-579-3877 — jeffrey.m.lewis@comcast.net


Comments | 1

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Good News

These are healthy developments.
Lewis is a well qualified, experienced executive without an axe to grind.
I feel confident that this community resource will continue.


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