Circus Up Board Members

Circus Up Board Members


Co-Chair of the Board

Ayla Gavins was introduced to Circus Up through partnership work between Mission Hill School and Commonwealth Circus School. After seeing the work the staff did with students, experiencing elements of circus arts, and learning more about the vision of Circus Up, she was compelled to get more involved in the life of the organization...


Board Member

Deborah Lee is a Program Manager at a medical device interoperability and cybersecurity lab, and is the Manager of Research at a medical devices accelerator at Massachusetts General Hospital. She is a former educator and curriculum designer, and is passionate about decreasing disparities in access to education, healthcare, and overall health...


Founder, Executive Director, Co-Chair of the Board

Leah Abel is Co-Founder, Executive Director, and Head Instructor of Circus Up, a Boston-based social circus program. She holds a Masters degree in Social Work from Simmons College and is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). Leah also (surprisingly) completed her Masters in Environmental Law and Policy at Vermont Law School...


Board Member

Lisa Thurau-Gray is Founder and Executive Director of Strategies for Youth, Inc., a non profit advocacy and training organization dedicated to improving police/youth interactions. Working with Dr. Jeff Q. Bostic, Director of School Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, Lisa built Strategies for Youth from the ground up without formal institutional or foundation support...


Board Member

Ramona Alexander is an award-winning actress, enthusiastic about using theater as a model for social change while encouraging youth to think outside their own “…universe of six blocks…” (Ntzoke Shange)...


Board Member

Sheri Gurock is a facilitator and executive coach with over 18 years of experience in management, business development, brand development and change work. She started out as an entrepreneur founding Magic Beans with her husband in 2004 and helping grow it from a small startup to an award-winning toy and baby gear regional chain and website...


Board Member

Sophia Herscu graduated from Colorado College in 2011 with degrees in drama and sociology. She received a Watson Fellowship, which awarded her $25,000 to travel the world studying the ways different communities utilize circus pedagogy in order to work for social justice. She then went to professional aerial dance school in Boulder, Colorado...

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Circus Up is a proud member of the American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO) and American Circus Educators (ACE), a proud partner of the Commonwealth Circus Center (C3) and a Cirque du Monde-recognized social circus organization


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