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The Board

President : Laureen Sills

Laureen Nolan Sills, mother of three, one with autism spectrum disorder, is the co-founder of Malibu Special Education Foundation in 2002.  She created a casual family support group in 2002 called Wine and Whine and has been hosting it monthly since. Laureen served on Governor’s Advisory Commission to State of California for five years and is the author of Parent’s Perspective: Parenting A  Child With Autism printed in The Edge, Department of Education Fall 2017.


Secretary : Suzy Forman

A Los Angeles native, I was living in South East Asia when our son was born with Cerebral Palsy. We moved back to Malibu when he turned three years old to find more comprehensive services and support. Soon after, I attended a meeting hosted by The Malibu Special Education Foundation and never looked back. I joined the Board and serve as the Secretary in hopes of helping other families and support providers create a caring, productive and all-inclusive community in Malibu.


Treasurer : Tracy Murgatroyd
Member : Julie Masterson

Julie has been a member of the Malibu Special Education Foundation board since
2008.She is the mother of three children , all of whom attended Malibu public schools.Before she was a full time child wrangler, she was a geriatric social worker!





Member : Linda Ellrod

Linda Ellrod was born in Bogota, Colombia and is of Peruvian and American descent and is fluent in Spanish. She is a Registered Nurse by trade, but when her first child was born, she chose to focus on her daughter’s severe needs. She has two children with special needs which include severe global developmental delays and vision loss. Her daughter Kristina, who is 24 years old, attended Juan Cabrillo Elementary and Malibu Middle and High School. Her son, Alister, attended Juan Cabrillo for a few years before he began his boarding school in Los Angeles called Junior Blind of America.
About six years ago, along with some other dedicated Malibu parents, Linda and her husband Tony founded a non profit called the Aurelia Foundation which created an adult day program (Creative Steps) for adults with disabilities in Santa Monica, CA. They now have over 60 clients and 3 locations.

Member : Alyson McKenzie
Member : Tara Buran

Mother of 5 awesome children. Tara has spent the last 17 years navigating and advocating for her eldest daughter with autism & epilepsy. She is active in the Malibu community on the MSEF board of directors, Juan Cabrillo Site Council, and voluntarily teaches mindfulness. She has a bachelor of business and marketing, but is contemplating a masters in Special Education to incorporate her love of mindfulness teaching. She grew up in Asia, has traveled extensively, lived in many places, but has decided to make Malibu her home. In her limited free-time, she loves to go to Zuma Beach with her kids, hike Malibu trails, and has started to take piano lessons so that she can play with her children; who all play beautifully. The special-needs community is near and dear to her heart.

Member : Julia Rodriguez


Who We Are:

The Foundation was formed in 2002 by parents who were willing to find creative ways to fund much-needed programs and support the administrators, staff and teachers working in special education.

What We Do:

  • We support Continuing Education for teachers, administration and staff in all areas who work hands-on with special education students.
  • Hand in Hand, affiliated with the Malibu Jewish Center, is a program which provides children with special needs with an opportunity to socialize, learn new skills, and have fun by partnering up with their typical “buddies” from Malibu High School.  Through music therapy, hands-on activities, field trips and community service our students, as well as their typical peers,  have made incredible strides in their emotional and social development.
  • We provide monthly support group, affectionately called “Whine and Wine”  for the parents of children with special needs, who struggle with figuring out the special education system, finding developmentally appropriate support for their child, coming to grips with how to function at home and at school with a child with a disability.  Our meetings are held in a home environment where all problem areas can be addressed in a very relaxing atmosphere and away from the often clinical settings many of us have otherwise  had to endure.  We have had great success keeping new parents’ feet on the ground while we hold their hands through their very difficult journey.

Programs We Fund:

  • Laptops, iPads, assisted technology and computers for the teachers and students in the SMMUSD

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  • Seminars and conferences for Educators in various fields of Special Education across the US and California
  • The Hand in Hand program, created by 2011 Dolphin Award winner Cantor Marcelo Gindlin from the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue (MJCS). Typical teens interact weekly with their disabled peers. Click here for more info

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  • Occupational Therapy classroom at local elementary school
  • Speaker Programs for the community in the area of Inclusion, IEP training, and all aspects of Special Education
  • 30 iPad covers with styluses
  • Weekly Yoga classes for Special Education students


  • 15 fit ball chairs for physical therapy
  • UC Play funds for movement/ music program
  • Transportation for 5th grade interactive field trip to Brandon’s Village in Calabasas
  • Bonuses for Special Education aides and stipends for MHS psychology interns
  • “Best Buddies Program,” a weekly lunch program for disabled students to hang out with typical peers
  • Miracle Child Theater Program, a weekly theater class with a Santa Monica-based acting coach
  • Equipment for Independent Life Skills classroom
  • New equipment for Preschool classroom
  • Program for Learning Resource Center reading room
  • Bonuses for all Classroom Aides in Special Education
  • Bonuses for all Psych Aides
  • Bonuses for all Special Education Teachers
  • Bonuses for all District Service Providers