OUR Board Members
Born in Paris, Dominique Jando has had a long and distinguished career in the theatre and the circus, which continues to this day. From 1983 to 2003, he has served as Associate Artistic Director for the Big Apple Circus, and he is the co-founder and curator of the very successful Circopedia.org — an online international circus encyclopedia created by the Big Apple Circus.
Additionally, Dominique is a highly respected circus historian (he has published five books on the history of circus and allied arts, including The Big Apple Circus — 25 Years! to celebrate the Circus’s 25th anniversary), as well as an illustrator and graphic artist. He has designed many theatre and circus posters in his native France, some of which have become classics of the genre and can be found in several books on poster art. Over the years, he has also produced many anonymous illustrations used in Big Apple Circus materials…
Dominique is married to former trapeze artist Elena Panova; together they live in San Francisco, surrounded by an impressive performing art library, a collection of rare circus prints, and two cats fending for attention.
Michele Walker — Treasurer
Michele Walker is currently Head of Operations for ALFA Partners, a privately held real estate development firm. Previously she spent over twenty years with Bernstein Private Wealth Management, most recently as National Director, Client Services. In that role she was responsible for client servicing efforts for Bernstein’s high-net-worth clients as well as key initiatives related to strategic direction and talent development for the Private Wealth business. She earned a BA in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles and later acted as District Chair of UCLA’s alumni scholarship program. Michele lives in San Francisco with her husband and two children – Katharine and Colby who are avid fans of Circus Bella.
Susan Munn — Secretary
Susan Munn was the CFO at the Urban School of San Francisco, an independent college preparatory high school, for over 20 years and now consults with several independent schools throughout the bay area. She has served on the Board of Trustees at Children’s Day School, Martin Luther Tower (an affordable senior housing facility), and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and presently serves on the Finance Committee of the Berkeley School. Prior to working in the field of education she held positions at the San Francisco Opera, Affiliate Artists, Inc, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and the Lake George Opera Festival. She has a BA in music from Chatham University and an MA in Arts Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Most significantly, she took High Flying Abigail to her first trapeze class.
Sarah Kotcher was born and grew up in the Haight Ashbury and has spent most of her life living in San Francisco. She went to see the Pickle Family Circus as a child and has a strong connection to local circus. She went to Willamette University in Salem, Or. and then moved to Paris, France for a few years. Sarah got involved with fundraising Circus Bella when it was only a year or two old and has helped out at Bella events over the years. Sarah is committed to ensuring the arts are available and accessible to children of all ages in the Bay Area, and joining Circus Bella's board is a way to be involved in a mission she believes in. She currently lives in San Francisco and works for a small, local manufacturing company where she manages wholesale sales, partnerships, and events.
Kathy graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in Sociology/Criminology, and spent over 30 years as a corporate securities legal assistant for several major law firms. She is a dog advocate, and makes yearly trips to Thailand to volunteer at Care for Dogs, a dog shelter. She has always loved circus, and attended numerous performances of the Shrine Circus throughout her childhood. Following her departure from the legal field, Kathy began studying and performing on static trapeze and rope.
Robert Raburn was elected to the BART Board of Directors on November 2, 2010, and re-elected in 2014 and again in 2018 when he was honored to serve as Board President. Director Raburn represents District 4, which includes most of Oakland, the City of Alameda, and part of San Leandro. He also serves on the governing Board for the Capitol Corridor train service.
In 2016, Director Raburn successfully led BART’s efforts to pass Measure RR, a $3.5 billion Bond to rebuild BART backed by over 70% of voters in BART’s three core counties. Raburn campaigned with the public, and internally he made sure that Measure RR funds are efficiently invested with strong citizen oversight to produce reliable service and reduce crowding. It marks a crowning achievement in a career devoted to improving life in our region.
Raburn came to the East Bay in 1979 to study transportation and urban geography at UC Berkeley, where he received a doctorate degree. He taught geography and urban planning for a decade (1982-1991) at San José State University, and on behalf of Hispanic voting rights groups, served as an expert witness and drew political redistricting plans adopted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Raburn led the East Bay Bicycle Coalition from 1992 to 2010. His work led to the building of the bike path on the Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge, and the removal of the “world’s shortest freeway” near Lake Merritt in Oakland.
A recognized leader in sustainable transit solutions, his work has influenced regional and state funding and policies on transportation planning and air quality.
For a decade prior to serving on the BART Board, Raburn chaired Alameda County’s Measure B Citizens Watchdog Committee, ensuring Measure B transportation tax funds were spent as promised to the voters. He helped draft the Measure B expenditure plan that was approved by voters in 2000. Raburn has also helped lead other successful local and regional ballot measures, raising over $4 million in transportation funds for transit, pedestrian, and bicycle improvements along Fruitvale Avenue and helping to increase bicycle and pedestrian safety near various BART stations. His ideas for Safe Routes to Transit became part of a region-wide program.
Robert received the Clean Air Champion Award from the Bay Area Air District in 1995, the Stride & Ride Award from the California Bicycle Coalition in 2003, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Excellent in Motion Award in 2004, and the Bay Area Business Roundtable’s Appreciation in 2014. As a staunch believer in community involvement, Robert enjoys volunteering each week at Allendale Elementary School, on behalf of the Oakland Rotary, and in the Dimond District near his home in Oakland where he has been recognized as a “Local Hero” in 2014 and again in 2016. He has served on the Board of the Dimond Improvement Association since 2004 where his promotion of an annual Community Picnic in the Dimond Park first brought Circus Bella to the park in 2009. Enchanted by the ability of circus performances to bring communities together, he joined the Circus Bella Board in 2016.
In his spare time he likes to bicycle tour with his wife Pat. They also enjoy travels south-of-the-border where they practice speaking Spanish. He struggles to find time to practice playing bass guitar.