By Chelsea Roff
Today, all of us at Give Back Yoga are celebrating the life and remarkable impact of long time board member, Isabella de la Houssaye. Isabella sadly passed away on December 2, almost six years after being diagnosed with lung cancer as a lifetime non-smoker.
Isabella lived an extraordinary life. She was a loving mother to five children, as well as an accomplished endurance athlete, philanthropist, and yogi. Her adventurous spirit was evident in her remarkable feats — including climbing four of the Seven Summits, cycling from California to Florida, running marathons in all 50 US states and all seven continents, and participating in numerous Ironman races while undergoing chemotherapy.
Isabella had a brilliant intellect, generous heart, and bright spirit. A proud alumna of Princeton University and Columbia Law School, she was an accomplished lawyer with tenures at both Lehman Brothers and the prestigious international law firm White & Case. She was a dedicated trustee and board member of several foundations, including Princeton in Asia, Students on Ice, and Ride Hard Breathe Easy.
Isabella’s involvement with Give Back Yoga began on a trek up Mount Kilimanjaro, where she met former board member Tim Thomas. After completing the Kilimanjaro Marathon, she decided to make the climb as an afterthought. Tim soon invited her to join our board in 2017, and she has served as a dedicated board member ever since. Isabella rarely missed a meeting, even Zooming in from the hospital while she was receiving treatment. She oversaw numerous initiatives that helped us grow into the organization we are today — including an expansion to the United Kingdom and the launch of Give Back Yoga University.
“There are those rare humans that seem Herculean in their ability to make a mark on the world,” said Rob Schware, Co-Founder of the Give Back Yoga Foundation. “Isabella was one of them. She touched a deep place within me and I think it’s safe to say everyone at our organization too.”
Isabella will be remembered for her fierce tenacity and deep commitment to making the most of every moment and every breath. “Isabella seemed to pursue her dreams relentlessly,” said Board Chair, Judith Cash. “As she got sick, she picked up the obstacles on her path and carried them with her (or tossed them off the side of the mountain). She loved her people fiercely and they clearly loved her back. I will certainly carry these lessons with me.”
In honor of Isabella’s remarkable impact, we are delighted to announce the establishment of the Isabella de la Houssaye Memorial Scholarship Fund. Through this fund, we aim to empower yoga teachers and yoga therapists who share her spirit of resilience and her commitment to making a difference in the world.