BOARD OF DIRECTORS
AMANDA PARACUELLOS, CHAIRMAN
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.
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 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.
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.
Rena is a software engineer at Zillow and a lifelong ballet dancer in the Orange County area. She danced professionally with the Anaheim Ballet, performing the Arabian Queen in their Nutcracker tour in Nevada and Southern California and dancing soloist roles in Hans Christian Andersen, Martini, Carnival of the Animals, and Balanchine’s Serenade. Over the last decade she has been teaching ballet at schools throughout Southern California, including Jimmie Defore Dance Center, Anaheim Ballet School, Maple Conservatory, Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet, and V&T Dance. She loves passing down her knowledge and passion for ballet to her students and places emphasis on artistry. In recent years, Rena has stepped into the role of producing short dance films that feature local professional ballet dancers and she is currently active in producing a summer ballet festival called SoCal Ballet Scene.
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.
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 pro bono 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.
With more than 10 significant, published opinions in favor of her clients, including successfully arguing before the Supreme Court, and an emphasis on environmental justice including significant involvement in the remediation and redevelopment of the Signal Hill oil field, Sanaz (Sunny) K. Soltani serves as the first female city attorney in Carson. She specializes in complex real property development. In her short tenure in Carson, she has played a significant role in reshaping the trajectory of the community, including negotiating a $45 million settlement against the largest oil refinery on the West Coast and has preserved the City of Carson’s rent control protecting the senior citizens of the community.
She is a founding member of the law Firm of Aleshire & Wynder, LLP, the youngest equity partner and the first female on the Firm’s management team. Sunny has been awarded the title of one of the “Woman of Influence” of Los Angeles County by the Los Angeles Business Journal “for exceptional legal skill and achievement across the full spectrum of responsibility, exemplary leadership as evidenced by the highest professional and ethical standards, and for contributions to the Los Angeles community at large.”
In 2021, she led her team to victory in the dismissal of an $85 million action against her client brought by a nationwide developer related to a project valued at more than half-a-billion dollars. In addition, to legal remedies, Soltani assists her clients with legislative solutions and has successfully secured the passage of several important legislative bills significantly improving the regulatory position of her clients.
PAST BOARD CHAIRS