Susan Funk dances her way from City Hall to the Pavilion

Community Star Susan Funk and her Choreographer Laura Slania are ready to raise funds for AAUW’s scholarships. (Contributed photo)

ATASCADERO — The last time Susan Funk “performed” as a dancer it was a wedding waltz with her new husband, Gordon, 24 years ago. And sharp eyes have spotted her as an enthusiastic participant in group dancing during free concerts this summer at Atascadero Lake Park. But now Susan is entering the ranks of those brave women and men who have no “real” dance performance experience but are willing to go public as a Community Star, participating in Dancing With Our Stars (DWOS) to support a worthy, local non-profit.
The funds that Susan secures will help underwrite AAUW’s scholarship program. Susan shares: “I love the work AAUW is doing to empower girls and women in their education. I have been blessed with wonderful educational opportunities myself and I know how powerful it can be to get a little extra encouragement or support at the right time.”
Susan and Gordon and their college-age son have lived in Atascadero for 10 years. She has an MBA with a certificate in public management and has owned a healthcare industry management consulting business for 25 years. The author of numerous articles on healthcare economics, she has received multiple service awards from the American Heart Association and the American College of Healthcare Executives.
This many-faceted woman has parlayed a hobby making jewelry into a fundraiser for causes that are important to her: the Atascadero High School drama program, CAPS, the Greybots, Canzona Women’s Ensemble, and local churches. She turned to jewelry making out of desperation because she wanted to give earrings to her mother-in-law who does not have pierced ears. She found that she loved this work and an effective fundraising strategy was born. Her jewelry sales raised almost $1,000 to help send Atascadero High drama students to the Fringe Festival in Scotland a few years ago. Her “Earrings for Arts” label continues the legacy of giving that began with high school drama.
Susan has many other interests, largely focused on volunteer efforts. She volunteers to cook dinners for ECHO, works with the Atascadero Printery Foundation, is a regular at Hares N Hounds, worked behind the scenes to save the high school choir program and she is active in her church. She is a singer and has participated in the SLO Masters Chorale and Canzona, as well as occasional choirs and ensembles for churches and senior events. And the activity that has been an important focus of her time and energy in the fall of 2018 is her candidacy for Atascadero City Council. Successful in her bid for a seat on the Council, her political philosophy revolves around developing cohesion and mutual understanding, with an emphasis on creating win-win solutions to Atascadero’s issues.
Susan is dancing with Aaron Avila, who appeared in DWOS two years ago when he played a non-dancing part as Johnny Cash and was background to Bruce Bonifas’ Community Star dance. The real-life partner of choreographer Laura Slania, Aaron started dancing at The Graduate when he was attending Cal Poly, about 20 years ago. He tells us he dances for fun and especially likes Country Two Step and Country Swing but he also likes ballroom, and Latin dancing. After he met Laura, he stepped up his dance game and has been helping her with dance classes, parades and community showcases. He and Laura have done a great deal of work for Woods Humane Society and he has a new dog to prove it.
Aaron’s other major interest is buying, selling and collecting antiques. He has an extensive collection of 19th Century board games, dating from the 1880s to World War II. Aaron continues his collaboration with Laura in this, his first dancing role with DWOS.
Choreographer and dancer Laura Slania returns to DWOS after her delightful partnership with ALPS Community Star Bonifas in 2017. Laura began dancing while attending Cal Poly and her dance world has been expanding ever since. She has moved from Lindy Hop to East Coast Swing to West Coast Swing to Salsa to Cha Cha to Night Club Two Step, Country Two Step and more. Her natural talent has moved her from student to teacher; she has taught for Linda Drake at SLO Dance, San Luis Coastal Adult School, the A-Town Swing Dance Group and gives private lessons to wedding couples and for other special events. Laura is a paralegal with Carsel & Frederickson and in addition, she buys and sells antiques. She gives back to the community in many ways, volunteering for the Woods Humane Society, the SLO Film Society, San Luis Little theater, SLO Ballet Theater and, of course, DWOS.
To vote for Susan, go to https: // or go to 2019-tickets; click on DWOS then click on donate by Susan’s name.
Atascadero’s Dancing with our Stars will be held March 21, 22 and 23, at the Pavilion on the Lake. The theme is “Atascadero Time Machine: Back to the 80’s!” It is directed by Molly Comin. Opolo Vineyards is the exclusive wine sponsor. Catered buffet dinner is by Pacific Harvest Catering. Tickets are on sale through No ticket sales at the door. Event sponsors receive best seats prior to public ticket sale. Interested in sponsoring? Contact Event Chair Jeannie Malik- [email protected] Interested in donating a silent auction item? Contact Linda Zirk- [email protected] Tickets will sell out! Don’t delay securing your seats for this popular community event supporting 7 local non-profit organizations.

2019 DWOS Sponsors as of Feb. 8

Diamond Sponsor $10,000
Opolo Vineyards

Platinum Sponsors $5,000
Vicky Morse
Julie C Fallon MD
John & Yvonne Webster
Wysong Construction

Emerald Sponsor $3,500
Donna O’Shaughnessy
Howard Products
Atascadero 76-Don Giessinger
Awakening Ways Spiritual Community

Gold+ Sponsors $2,500
Colony Magazine

Gold Sponsors $2,000
Justin Vineyards
Ron & Liz Helgerson
So Cal Gas
Atascadero News
Bill Gaines Audio
BHE Renewables

Silver Sponsors $1,000
Greg Malik Real Estate
Bill & Grenda Ernst
Grigger & Alice Jones ($1,500)
Eric J. Gobler, Civil Engineering
Richard & Marguerite Pulley
Idler’s Home
K.Jons Diamonds & Gems
David Burt & Virginia Severa
Leon & Sandy Fairbanks
Sue Hayes
County Supervisor Debbie Arnold
Rob Garcia Wealth Management
El Camino Veterinary Hospital
American Riviera Bank
Quota International of Atascadero
The Real Estate Book
Cheryl Strahl Photography
Highlight Media
Bloom N’ Grow
DJ Joy Bonner
Brian Reeves
KPRL-1230 am
Central Coast Brewing
On the Wall Galaxy Theatre Advertising
Central Coast Tent & Party
Mid Coast Geo Technical
MGE Underground
Ingram & Greene Sanitation
Hope Chest Emporium


More In News