Board of Directors

AMANDA PARACUELLOS, CHAIRMAN

Amanda is an attorney, mother of two and a ballerina in her own right. She was accepted to join the Joffrey trainee program out of high school but the timing was not right so she went on to college at the University of Michigan and then attended the University of Iowa College of Law. She is now a Laguna Beach resident, partner in the law firm of Sugg & Paracuellos, LLP and still takes two ballet classes per week. She brings to the Board 20 years of experience as a business lawyer as well as her enthusiasm and extensive knowledge of dance.

WARD BUKOFSKY, TREASURER

Ward has over 40 years experience as a practicing CPA and business executive, including over 15 years as a senior partner in a Beverly Hills CPA firm and the large regional firm into which it merged; and eight years as COO/CEO of a boutique financial services firm in Irvine.  He currently works exclusively with one family as their “financial consigliere” overseeing all aspects of their financial lives.

crystal

CRYSTAL SIMS, SECRETARY

Crystal retired as the Director of Litigation and Training from the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (now Community Legal Aid SoCal) after over four decades in legal services representing very low income clients. Her practice focused on affordable housing, exclusionary and discriminatory zoning practices, and landlord tenant issues. After retirement she has continued doing work for Western Center on Law and Poverty and Community Legal Aid So Cal. She was honored by the Anti-Defamation League, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, and the Public Law Center for her legal work. <

Prior to attending law school, Crystal was a professor at the University of San Diego College for Women. She has degrees from Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of San Diego School of Law.

Crystal has served on the Board of Directors of the Center Dance Alliance (Segerstrom Center for he Arts), Western Center on Law and Poverty, Orange County Community Housing Corporation, and the Public Law Center. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Hagan Place, an affordable housing project in Orange County.

Crystal is an enthusiastic supporter of dance in all forms, especially ballet.  She is also the proud parent of the new editor of Dance Magazine!

Niko

NIKO CHRISTOU

Niko Christou was born and raised in Cyprus, where his family farmed olives. After finishing service in the Cypriot army, Niko moved to New York City, where he studied photography at the Fashion Institute of Technology and then worked in commercial photography.

Niko and his husband lived for nearly 40 years in New York City, and also restored and lived on an eighteenth century farm in Bucks County Pennsylvania where, inspired by the lavender fields of southern France, Niko cultivated and farmed lavender commercially.

Niko has been involved with the dance world for the past 40 years, and in particular has deep ties to the New York City Ballet. He studies art and music, and dances for his own pleasure.

Niko and his husband have now both retired, and they and their dog Sophia recently moved to Laguna Beach after completing the restoration of one of the few properties in Laguna Beach listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

ROBERT C. BRAUN

Robert (Bob) Braun retired as a senior partner with the law firm of Rutan & Tucker where he practiced for over 40 years.  He specialized in the resolution of complex business disputes and was the lead lawyer in matters where more than $1.5 billion was at issue.  He has participated in numerous trials, arbitrations, mediations and negotiations. In addition to representing clients he mentored attorneys at Rutan, taught classes to outside attorneys fulfilling continuing education requirements imposed by the California bar, taught classes to his clients’ in-house attorneys and taught a class to newly appointed judges. He has served on a bar association committee vetting judicial candidates.  Los Angeles Magazine selected him as one of the outstanding attorneys in Southern California.

He received his BA from USC and was selected by the University as one of the five most outstanding male graduates in the class of 1967. He received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1970 and was selected by the faculty as the most outstanding oral advocate in his graduating class.

He has been active in community affairs.  He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Laguna Art Museum for 10 years, serving as an officer and as a member of the executive committee, finance committee and governance committee.  He served for eight years on the Board of Trustees of the Laguna Beach Education Foundation (SchoolPower), served as its president, and volunteered for several school board committees. He is currently on the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood of San Bernardino and Orange Counties where he serves on the finance committee and the audit committee. He was active in the annexation of South Laguna by the City of Laguna Beach and served on the Board of the South Laguna Civic Association.

mari

MARI BUKOFSKY

Mari began dancing at an early age.  She graduated from the UCLA dance program with a B.A. in choreography. Having an interest in psychology and the therapeutic aspects of dance she obtained her masters degree in Dance/Movement Therapy and went on to practice in clinical and residential settings. Mari then obtained an MFT before establishing a private practice. She continues to mentor and supervise Dance/Movement Therapy students.

Mari and her husband Ward have raised two daughters and they are now thrilled to have become grandparents. After moving to Laguna Beach in 2008, Mari has enjoyed the practice of yoga, the care of canines and travel. She is excited to leap from her love of dance to being a part of the Laguna Dance Festival board.

Mary

MARY DAWE

A California native, Mary has lived in Laguna Beach with her husband Michael, an attorney, for forty years. A recently retired speech pathologist, she is a lover of dance, particularly contemporary and modern ballet. She is a past board member of School Power and long time member of the National Charity League. She is a welcome addition to the Board.

Nancy

NANCY MEYER

Nancy is active in many non-profits including Laguna Dance Festival, United Way of Orange County and the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at UCI. Bringing the arts to the people of Orange County has been one of her primary passions for many years. Nancy is a partner of Buttoned Up, Inc., a company that produces a line of products for getting all parts of your life organized. She lives in Laguna Beach with her husband Michael, where they raised their four children.
Margot

MARGO SHAPIRO

Margot Shapiro is a seasoned investment professional with 20+ years in private equity and venture capital. She grew up in the great Midwest where she spent her early years and throughout high school dancing with the Detroit Contemporary Civic Ballet Company. Many people said she was always on her toes, and she proved it by taking the leap out west to go to college at Stanford, where she studied geology. She fell in love with business at a summer job while analyzing oil company assets for a bank.

After college, Margot started her career in the Investment Banking division of Goldman Sachs. Afterward, she joined a private equity partnership in New York where she worked on venture capital and leveraged buyout deals for the firm’s 30 portfolio companies totaling $6 billion in revenue. Eventually she moved back to the Midwest and rejoined Goldman Sachs, where she raised $70 million for private wealth teams. She also helped launch the Wolverine Venture Fund at University of Michigan and actively served on its founding Board of Advisors for six years.

After a move to California and a desire to start her own fund, Margot co-founded LMN Ventures in 2010 with two business school classmates, investing their own capital in early stage women-led businesses in the Consumer and Health & Wellness sectors. With a passion for the better-for-you CPG space, she joined Spiral Sun Ventures as a Managing Partner in 2018 when Mark and Michael saw the light and knew they needed a woman in the mix.

Margot holds a BS in Applied Earth Science and an MS in Petroleum Geology from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She serves on the Advisory Board of Women Entrepreneurs Global. She is married, lives in Laguna Beach, CA and has three grown children.

Edie

EDIE TONKON

Edie has experience fundraising for several organizations: SchoolPower, Friendship Shelter, Jewish Family Services as well as the Laguna Playhouse where she has served on the board. Presently she is on the board of the Kevin Armstrong Foundation, which sets up extracurricular sports programs for the middle schools in Santa Ana. Additionally she is the Trustee of the Melvin J. Tonkon Memorial Scholarship for Laguna Beach High School. Ms. Tonkon is also a past teacher and trained as a career counselor for college.

PAST BOARD CHAIRS

Janet Eggers

Stuart Byer

Christine Rhoades

Joy Dittberner

Karen Wilson

Amanda Paracuellos