Bui Simon, a native of Thailand, was recently appointed to the Pepperdine Board of Regents. Simon is the founder of the Angels Wings Foundation International, which is dedicated to helping needy children in Thailand, and graduated with a bachelor’s of arts degree from Pepperdine University in 1996.
Simon established the Thai Endowed Scholarship Fund in 2008 to help Thai students who wish to come to the United States and study at Pepperdine. She also established the Angels Wings Rural Teaching Scholarship to provide scholarships to Thai college students who commit to teaching in Thailand’s rural areas after their schooling is complete.
A longtime resident of Malibu, Simon is the wife of Herbert Simon, owner of the Indiana Pacers and founder of Simon Property Group, the largest shopping mall owner in the U.S.
Simon was born in Thailand and moved to the United States when she was three years old. Born Porntip Nakhirunkanok, her nickname was “Bui,” which means “sleeping like a baby” in Thai. She has since made Bui her legal name.
In 1988, she was crowned Miss Thailand and within weeks afterward won the Miss Universe title at the annual pageant held in Taipei, Taiwan. But the former beauty queen is best known for her decades of work helping impoverished children.
In 2002, she established the Angels Wings Foundation to build and fund schools and orphanages and supply healthcare for underprivileged children in Thailand. The Foundation built a fleet of boats, new schools and 100 new homes, and helped rebuild orphanages and playgrounds for children of the affected communities after the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia.