Portrait Artist and Studio Owner
George Allan is a portrait artist and studio owner of 40 plus years. While he may not look like Santa, he does share the compassion and passion to give and support others, especially children. George has photographed over 2000 weddings, thousands of family portraits, major CEO's, and Santas too. George has been awarded national recognition for his images by Kodak and the PPA (Professional Photographers Association).
George has been employed for 13 years by the big three Santa photo companies, which are now one large company. George managed a mall location for 8 years, area coached for two seasons, and served as General Manager of Photo Operations for Marriott Gaylord National Ice Promotion for 3 years. George is a cancer survivor, husband, dad to two teens, and a devoted Christian.
Now in his 23rd year of performing, Lee educates and entertains at schools, libraries, festivals, fairs, church programs, and corporate events nearly 500 times each year. When Lee created his clown character, Lew-E, at the age of 3, he had no idea that it would turn into his career. Lee has been blessed with the opportunity to travel the world creating thousands of smiles for families of all ages.
Lee is a former Advance Clown for Cole Brothers Circus for three seasons, Guest Trainer for Cirque du Soleil’s Cirque du Monde, and was featured in Zac Brown Band’s music video for Goodbye in Her Eyes. He was also featured in the hit TV series, Hap and Leonard.
Lee also has the opportunity to portray Santa to thousands of children and their families each November and December. Santa Claus is a very important role to Lee, and he ensures that each child receives the Santa experience they deserve. As Santa Lee, he’s been blessed to be able to provide Santa for many Fortune 500 Companies, themed resorts, tree lightings, community events, and family home visits.
Stephen Arnold is the current IBRBS President and CEO.
Judith Broderick has been the “Woman Behind the Scenes for All Things Christmas” most of her life. Through her love of children, Christmas, and an uncanny desire to volunteer for everything, she was always looking for ways to keep the magic in Christmas and the Spirit alive year round. She proudly accepted the official title of Mrs. Claus, for Santa Bill Wilson, almost 10 years ago. She chose the Christmas name “Bestemor Claus” to reflect her heritage and her love of her grandchildren. It means grandmother in Norwegian. (She’s Grandma Claus to the elf children).
Her second time as Mrs Claus found her talking to a deaf mother about her safety after her children told Bestemor their older brother was beating up their mom. The following month, she and Santa Bill started ASL classes. Since then she has graduated from the C.W.Howard School for Santas, the International School for Santas, the St. Nicholas Institute, and the Christmas Performers Workshop. She has attended numerous Santa gatherings and workshops. She was knighted a Knight of St Nicholas, and is a member of IBRBS, Clan Claus, and helped Bill start Wisconsin Santas. She is now their IBRBS representative. In 2018, along with her partner Deanna, she launched Santa Nana’s Holiday University (SNHU), the first of its kind school focused on the female performer.
Santa Blake Ellege (Appalachian Santa) has been performing since the age of 2. He was signed to his first record contract at the age of 4 and performed actively all over the USA and the world for the next 14 years. Blake has been portraying Santa for the past 11 years and gives God the glory for all of the blessings he’s been given in such his short time on earth. He has a BA in Classical Music Performance and currently travels full time (270+ paid performances a year) as the Front Man, Lead Vocalist and Singer for 11 different bands. Blake’s unique background in theater, opera, singing professionally and musical theater work for the past 20 years has given him a unique approach to portraying Santa, character development, singing and overall performance quality. He is currently a Voting Grammy Member, a member of The International Blues Society, CMA, IBMA, PAVA and a Lifetime Member of the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Debra and Stephen Gillham
Stephen began his Santa portrayal following a call from the recreational therapy at UNC Children’s Hospital. In his efforts to bring the very best Santa experience to those and other children, he and his wife, Debra, developed what parents dubbed “Smart Santa”. Using modern technology, Debra, sent him information. He knew the child’s name, age, favorite present from last Christmas and positive aspects of the child’s personality. This technique created amazement for children and their families.
Stephen realized that he could only see a limited number of children annually which prompted him to teach the method of “Smart Santa” to others. He authored the book,” Santaology, The Art of Becoming a Great Santa Claus”. The book contains multiple original stories, visual props, and his method of performing for children and adults alike. Stephen has partnered with Santa Leon A. McBryde and together as the “Brothers Claus” teach seminars on props and Santa techniques.
Stephen Gillham and Leon McBryde
The Brothers Claus
Stephen began his Santa portrayal following a call from the recreational therapy at UNC Children’s Hospital. In his efforts to bring the very best Santa experience to those and other children, he and his wife, Debra, developed what parents dubbed “Smart Santa”. Using modern technology, Debra, sent him information. He knew the child’s name, age, favorite present from last Christmas and positive aspects of the child’s personality. This technique created amazement for children and their families. Stephen realized that he could only see a limited number of children annually which prompted him to teach the method of “Smart Santa” to others. He authored the book,” Santaology, The Art of Becoming a Great Santa Claus”. The book contains multiple original stories, visual props, and his method of performing for children and adults alike. Stephen has partnered with Santa Leon A. McBryde and together as the “Brothers Claus” teach seminars on props and Santa techniques.
Leon first donned the red suit in 1962 at the age of nineteen for Belk’s Department Store in Fayetteville, NC. After that, he led an exciting and unusual life. He performed as a clown and did advance promotional work for Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus and, in 1990, was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame. In 2010, Leon retired from clowning, let his white beard grow out, and once again put on the red suit. He created a line of Santa products and partnered with Santa Stephen Gillham to develop props and training seminars. Together they are known as “The Brothers Claus”. Leon believes portraying Santa Claus is his calling; and he does Corporate jobs, home visits, and promotions such as the Biltmore in the Miami area and Atlantis in the Bahamas. He and his wife, Linda, raised two sons and have six grandchildren and a great grandchild.
After retiring from the business world in 2014, a Santa friend asked Deanna whether she would be interested in being a Mrs. Claus. He thought she would like it and would be good at it, since she loved Christmas, loved children, and loved the holiday spirit.
She commissioned a dress and volunteered her weekends as Mrs. Claus. Before she knew it, she found herself being interviewed on live morning news shows, sitting next to Santa for photos, and going to corporate parties, family parties, and charity events. After the first child, the first hug, and the first smile, she was hooked, and she has been working on the art of Mrs. Claus since, performing solo or with different Santas.
In 2015, Deanna began volunteering for IBRBS, and accepted increasing responsibilities as the membership grew. In 2016, she was appointed as the first female Ex-Officio Director; in February 2018 she was elected by the membership to the Board of Directors; and in June 2018 she was elected by the Board as Secretary and Officer.
Life is about learning, and Deanna has committed to growing her professional craft, which has now evolved into both student and teacher. She has attended several professional Christmas performer schools and workshops, and in 2018, Deanna, along with her partner, Judi, launched Santa Nana's Holiday University (SNHU), the first-of-its-kind school focused on the female performer.
ISC2020 Atlanta Chair and VP of IBRBS Professional Development
Howard Graham is Chair of ISC2020 Atlanta, and IBRBS Vice President of Professional Development.
President, Kaercher Insurance
Allen was born and raised in Las Vegas. He is the President of Kaercher Insurance. He has over 40 years of experience in development and implementation of risk management programs, specializing in risk control programs for a diverse range of clients, including hospitality/gaming accounts, public entitles, healthcare facilities, airports, hotel/casinos and other large, complex accounts.
Allen earned his Bachelor of Science degree in business insurance administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He helped develop the first Owner Controlled Insurance Program and assisted with implementation of the first Self Insured Workers Compensation program in Nevada with the risk managers of Summa Corporation and MGM Grand. The result was the creation of laws that are still in effect today in the State of Nevada.
He devotes a great deal of his time to numerous community organizations including the Blind Center of Nevada, After School All Stars and Southern Nevada Water Authority. He also serves as an honorary commander with the Nellis Support Team and was honored by the Business Advisory Council as the 2006 Businessman of the Year.
As an author and veteran speaker, trainer, seminar leader and entertainer, Jeffrey’s dynamic presentation style has unusually strong impact. Jeffrey draws from his experiences as a Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus Clown and consultant, as well as over 30 years of international family-based programming for some of the world’s largest companies. With over 5,000 programs from living rooms, to the world’s largest venues – there are few situations a Christmas performer will find themselves in that Jeff has not experienced. Jeffrey is the author of: “Tender Moments from the Big Chair,” “Just in Time … Just isn’t Enough!” and his work also has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work.
Fernando Luis Pena Mirabal
Army Major (Ret)
A Retired Army Major (Airborne), Fernando Luis Pena Mirabal has over 25 years of experience as a university professor (Graduate & Undergraduate) in the areas of Business and Public Administration, Entrepreneurship, Economics, and Business Law. Before his retirement, he worked as a Business Lawyer and Entrepreneurship Advisor on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. He’s given presentations, seminars, and trainings to a great variety of industries such as Coca Cola, Sam’s Club, Plaza de Caribe, Hewlett Packard, Sara Lee, Avon, Starkist Caribe, Dunn & Bradstreet, Abbott Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, Baxter International, Bristol-Myers, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, Triple S, Integrand, Texaco, and Shell, to mention just a few.
Betty Mocik Motter
Trainer and Professional Speaker
Mrs.B.Claus, aka Betty Mocik Motter, has been joining and supporting Santas on visits to thousands of events for over a decade now from Coast to Coast in the U.S., while bringing the magic of Christmas to thousands more personally herself. Having been an international sales trainer and professional speaker for many years, and a much sought-after emcee for every kind of event, Betty captivates her audience whether in a classroom setting, keynoting a national convention, or delivering the magic of Christmas individually to children of any age or special need, year round. She knows how to make events memorable, how to assist Santa with the many details regarding the variety of events, and is able to teach experienced and prospective Mrs. Clauses to do the same. A certified Hospice volunteer, she shares her love of Christmas through that charity, and inspires others to find their special calling to give back somehow, too.
When Mike was a sophomore in college in Alexandria, Louisiana, the local K-Mart advertised for a Santa for Christmas in 1967. He applied and got the job. For three years with a traditional beard and pillow stuffing, he entertained the children of central Louisiana. He enjoyed the time so much, after he graduated, he had his own suit made and continued to entertain children at Christmastime.
In the meantime, Mike attended Clown College on the Road in Houston, Texas and began a career as a Professional Clown. Again, entertaining children not only in Louisiana, but in Costa Rica. While there he was the featured clown at the home of the United States Ambassador to Costa Rica for their Fourth of July festivities. He also taught a class in Clowning in the Drama Department at the Universidad de Costa Rica. Over the years, he also taught Puppetry at many churches and schools in Louisiana as well as performing puppet shows across the state.
He’s taught Santas how to communicate with deaf children. He also developed a YouTube video teaching basic signs to Santas, as “Santa Signs Mike Owens.”
Sarah Kordis Portillo
Secret Sleigh Project
Sarah lives in her hometown of Colorado and has three children. In December of 2015, Sarah’s eldest daughter Lily, who has various medical needs and a rare diagnosis, faced a somewhat dis-heartening moment as she sat in Lily’s room and watched her in her bed. Lily had returned home from a long hospitalization that required various new machines, medicines and respiratory treatments. Going outside to face the cold was hardly possible for her little girl. She also thought of Santa and how impossible it would be to see him with the rest of the family. She immediately envisioned Santa walking into Lily’s room from her doorway and pictured Lily’s face lighting up with a big smile. After researching to find a Santa to do home visits, she recruited a nearby Santa and asked that he visit families she knew who also had children with special medical needs. In two weeks, Santa and Mrs. Claus visited 16 children in three different cities. Another Santa heard of the efforts and visited several families in a city a few hours away. Since this wonderful first year, the initiative became the Secret Sleigh Project and involves hundreds of Santas and Christmas performers throughout the United States. To date thousands of visits have been performed. Secret Sleigh Project has been featured Several Times on ABC News, Good Morning America, and in local newspapers such as the Coloradoan, Denver Post & Reporter Herald. She received an award from the City of Fort Collins in October of 2017 for her work in the community to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities.
Megan is on the front line, working directly with performers and their clients each day. She's got her finger on the pulse of the booking experience from start to finish and knows what it takes to be successful in the entertainment business.
After 11 years with the company, Heather is an expert in all things GigSalad. She's watched seasonal bookings grow year over year, while helping build GigSalad into what it is today, giving her experience and knowledge that is unmatched.
President, Santa America
John Scheuch has been helping Santa since 1975. He got the “bug” from his father, grandfather, stepfather, and uncle. He has now morphed into the role.
In 2003 John made his first hospice visit. It did not go as planned, as one of the children died hours before his visit. The family wanted to go ahead with the visit, and John felt totally inadequate and unprepared. Looking for a place to learn and do more, he discovered Santa America, a volunteer service organization and 501(c)(3). John has been a volunteer since 2005. In 2016, John was asked to take over as President of Santa America. He and his wife, Elf Helen, are now supporting Santa America.
Chair of the Board, IBRBS
Fred currently serves as the Chair of the IBRBS Board of Directors.
Robert Seutter has more than thirty years of professional storytelling experience as True Thomas the Storyteller. He loves making folks smile with his singing and interactive style. As a traditional spoken-word storyteller, he has taught Disney Animators and performed for NPR and the Getty museum.
True suited up as Santa and hit the ground running. In his first year, he was on “NBC’s The Voice” and the official Santa for Solvang, CA. In his second year, he was Santa for the Lakers and the Clippers, plus in a commercial for Royal Caribbean, earning the nickname “Action Santa” for snorkeling, jet-skiing, and zip-lining in full Santa gear. For the past three years, he’s performed as Santa for the South Coast Christmas Spectacular (audience of 4,000+) and at a world class ski resort. Some of his other commercials include Michaels Crafts (with Snoop Dogg) and The 99-Cent Store (Santa for Easter). You can see Santa True in flashmob dances and rapping with a 10-piece blues band. Just last year, he was the Lead Santa for “Hire Santa” on Shark Tank. He’s also created Christmas Performer Workshops (CPW), a truly innovative training group.
Amanda Spalding, or “Mandy Claus” has been bringing joy to children of all ages for two years, but has been preparing to be Mrs. Claus ever since she met and married her own personal Santa over 18 years ago. A native of Louisville, KY, she is a proud United States Navy Veteran. Amanda earned her Bachelor and Master Degrees, with an adult education emphasis, in Nursing Science from Spalding University. She is a Registered Nurse with 23 years of experience, and has extensive assistance in Long Term and Skilled Nursing Care, including dementia care. Amanda is, at heart, a teacher and trainer, and has been for the majority of her career. She has held numerous positions that required education and training of patients, families, nurses and other direct care staff. She has also taught photography, First Aid/CPR, Disease Prevention and Wellness. She firmly believes that all Christmas Performers can bring joy and happiness to those living in Long Term Care and Dementia Care settings, and make connections that age, infirmity or disease cannot take away.
Bruce has been Santa’s Helper for 40 years, and has had more than 2000 visits. His revenue is directed to Rotary International, in order to purchase polio vaccine. They have immunized over 300,000 children.
He is the only Canadian member of the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame, and he is also a Knight of St. Nicholas. He’s written four books, and has studied the history and the traditions which take us from our Santa of today back in time to St. Nicholas.
Jaylie Welch graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Spanish. Since graduation, she has been with Make-A-Wish Georgia for almost four years as their Manager of Community Events. In this role, Jaylie gets to meet and work with individuals and community groups to find their unique way of plugging into Make-A-Wish Georgia’s mission.
Licensed as a teacher in Elementary Education, Special Education, and Early Childhood Education, Shirley retired after 40 years teaching in the classroom and, since 2012, have been an adjunct professor in the College of Education at Rowan University, in Glassboro, NJ. While she taught several education classes, she’s currently dedicated to supervising student teachers.
Her experience in education at the elementary level was serving as the special education member in a cooperative teaching setting. In that capacity, she worked with general education teachers to develop and adapt reading instruction for diverse student populations.
Throughout this time, her emphasis was on using “trade books”, authentic literature to enhance the standard reading program, and encourage student to become life-long readers. With this as a goal, she established a focused database of children’s literature which can be accessed by title, topic, and/or author, including, of course, those focused on winter and the Christmas holidays.
Phillip L. Wenz
If ever there was a man born to be Santa Claus, it is Phillip L. Wenz. As a four-year-old child, he donned his first Santa outfit. By the time he was fourteen he was in his first parade, and at the ripe old age of twenty-three, he became the year-round Santa Claus for the iconic Santa’s Village theme park in Dundee, Illinois. It is an association he has now had for over 30 years. He is the longest tenured Santa in the park’s 60-year history, and is one of the very few true full-time year round professional Santa Clauses in history. He appears in costume at the park and at special events over 200-plus days a year. Wenz has appeared in over 45 Christmas Parades including the nationally televised parades in Chicago, Illinois and Houston, Texas.
He has been Santa on numerous TV shows, billboards, commercials, and magazine covers, along with appearing at some of the nation’s largest corporate and civic holiday events, including emceeing the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremonies in both Chicago and Houston. As Santa he has been given the title of "Chicago's Very Own" by WGN-TV, awarded the 1994 Brass Ring Award for Best Theme Park Commercial by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), and received the "Hats Off 2 Houston" award from KPRC-TV in Houston. In 2012 he was presented the “Spirit of St. Nicholas” award from the St. Nicholas Institute in Detroit, Michigan.
Ron Wolek is a third generation Hollywood Journeyman hair stylist and makeup artist. Ron was trained by his mother, Janet Wolek (1954-2014), who was a well-known makeup designer at Disney World, responsible for many versions of the Christmas Day Parade. His most recent film and television work includes “Stranger Things,” Season 3, “The Right Stuff” Season one, “The One and Only Ivan” starring, Brian Cranston and Angelina Jolie; “Late Night with Stephen Colbert”, and “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver”.
His Christmas related entertainment credits include Disneyland, ABC Christmas Day Parade, Grinchmas, Elf the Musical, Universal Studios’ Santa Stole Our Dog and beard maker for actors Ed Asher, Brian Cranston, and Bobby Moynihan.
As an instructor, Wolek is currently a faculty member of the Elegance International School of Professional Makeup, the oldest Hollywood makeup school and designs wigs and beards for Santa Claus. He has also taught for Cinema Makeup School in Hollywood and Cosmix Makeup School in South Florida.
As a published author, Ron Wolek wrote two books for Santa Claus, Santa Claus Makeup and Become Santa Claus: How to Turn Your Beard Snow White.