Our board members guide the vision and operations of Give Back Yoga, empowering us to serve in a sustainable and effective way.
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Rob Schware – Co-Founder and Executive Director
Rob Schware, PhD, heads the Give Back Yoga Foundation and is President Ex-Officio & Advisor for the Yoga Service Council.
In late 2006, Rob brought his two decades of management experience with the World Bank to a second career: helping to grow the yoga service movement. He wanted to combine his development and project management expertise in over 30 countries including India, Indonesia, Turkey, Rwanda and Palestine with his passion for yoga, by forming an organization whose mission it is to bring yoga to underserved populations. In 2013, his work of co-founding and furthering the Give Back Yoga Foundation earned him the International Association of Yoga Therapists’ Karma Yoga Award for “extraordinary selfless service in reducing suffering and elevating consciousness through yoga.” And in 2016, he received Yoga Journal’s Good Karma award.
He has been married to Alice Trembour for 34 years, which, like yoga, is in and of itself a regular commitment to a practice. They have three children.
Beryl Bender Birch
Co-Founder and Director of The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute
Beryl Bender Birch – Co-Founder and Director of The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute
World renowned yoga teacher and author Beryl Bender Birch, co-founder of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, has been an avid student of yoga and the study of consciousness since 1971. She holds degrees in English and philosophy, has traveled extensively in India, and has taught classical yoga and Vedantic and Buddhist philosophy for four decades.
In 1980, Beryl began training yoga teachers to serve as “spiritual revolutionaries;” in 2000, she was chosen as one of just seven American women named in Yoga Journal’s “Innovators Shaping Yoga Today” issue. In 2013, her work of founding and furthering the Give Back Yoga Foundation earned her the International Association of Yoga Therapists’ Karma Yoga Award for “extraordinary selfless service in reducing suffering and elevating consciousness through yoga.”
Beryl is the director-founder of The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute and the author of the best-selling books Power Yoga, Beyond Power Yoga, and Boomer Yoga. Her latest book, Yoga For Warriors, was released in September 2014.
Ann Richardson Stevens
Ann Richardson Stevens
Ann Richardson Stevens is the Owner/Director of Studio Bamboo Institute of Yoga in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She teaches a variety of classes, intensives, and teacher trainings at the 200-hour and 500-hour levels.
For over five years Ann has provided Adaptive Yoga classes to veterans, active duty men and women returning from combat, and individuals who are injured or ill. Ann works with children and adults experiencing all types of mental and physical illness, and has developed this Adaptive Yoga Program from her experience working with these populations. She instructs workshops and teacher trainings across the country and is honored to sit on the Board of the Give Back Yoga Foundation.
Isabella de La Houssaye
Isabella de La Houssaye
Isabella de la Houssaye has worked extensively around the world for the past 30 years. She first worked as an international project finance lawyer for White & Case, then as an investment banker based in the Hong Kong office of Lehman Brothers. She is currently the owner of Material Culture, a Philadelphia-based importer, retailer and auctioneer of art, antiques and traditional crafts from around the world.
Isabella has been an ultra distance competitive runner, biker and triathlete for the past twenty years and embraced yoga, meditation and mindfulness as the path to health and wellness approximately ten years ago. She has completed more than 500 hours of teacher training through Princeton Power Yoga and volunteers regularly teaching yoga and mindfulness skills to teenagers. Isabella has a BA from Princeton University, a JD from Columbia Law School and is a Trustee of Princeton in Asia, and an Advisor to the University of Pennsylvania Museum and Students on Ice. She is married to David Crane and they have five children.
Deborah is the former President and CEO of the Maryland Food Bank with its main facility in greater Baltimore and two branch operations in Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore. She managed 140+ employees and an $84 million operating budget. Under her leadership the food bank experienced double-digit growth annually from 2008 to 2016. In FY 2015, 53.6 million pounds (45 million meals) were distributed through the food bank’s network of 1200 distribution points statewide. This success was made possible by several capacity-building projects, including the expansion of the Maryland Food Bank – Eastern Shore Branch; establishment of the Maryland Food Bank – Western Branch; and the launch of the Charles T. Bauer Community Kitchen, where fresh produce is incorporated into healthy frozen meals for distribution to people in need. She has been appointed to posts by two governors and has been twice recognized as one of Maryland’ most influential people. She also received the Smart CEO Cornerstone Award; the Smart CEO Future 50 Award (twice); the Smart CEO Brava Award; the Women in Business Trailblazer Award; Baltimore Business Journal’s CEO/CFO Dream Team Award; Baltimore Magazine’s Top Leader in Philanthropy; and Feeding America’s Dick Goebel Award for her work in public policy and advocacy.
She now holds a post as owner and principal of JDF consulting, a firm dedicated to increasing organizational capacity through careful planning and systemic execution. She also currently serves as an Emeritus Board Member for Feeding America, Chicago, IL; a board member of the Vermont Holocaust Memorial, Stowe, VT; and as board member for the Give Back Yoga Foundation, Boulder, CO.
Andres Gonzalez has been the Co-Founder and Marketing Director for the Holistic Life Foundation, Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland since 2001. For sixteen years, Andres has taught yoga to diverse populations in drug treatment centers, mental crisis facilities, homeless shelters, wellness centers, colleges, and public and private schools throughout the world.
Andres holds a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Maryland, College Park and an M.B.A. from the University of Maryland, University College. He is a certified Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Andres has partnered with John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health and the Penn State’s Prevention Research Center on a Stress and Relaxation Study and is a published author in the Journal of Children’s Services. His work with the Holistic Life Foundation has been featured on NBC Nightly News, CNN, and CBS, as well as O the Oprah Magazine, The Washington Post, Upworthy, Mindful Magazine, Yoga Journal, and Shambhala Sun.
Jyothi (Kimberley) Schick
Jyothi (Kimberley) Schick
A lifelong spiritual seeker, Jyothi has been a student of yoga for over twenty years and a yoga instructor (RYT-500) for over fifteen years. Empowered with wisdom from over 1,000 hours of yoga-related training, Jyothi practices yoga in every facet of her life. She is also a transformational marketing leader, known for her ability to break ground with innovative brand-building campaigns, catalyze critical growth initiatives across functional boundaries, and empower teams for peak performance. As a Karma Yogi as heart, she is thrilled to be on the board of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, furthering the organization’s mission to transform lives through equal access to yoga for all.
Legacy Program Directors
Our program directors lead yoga service programs and teacher trainings that support vulnerable and underserved populations.
Founder of Prison Yoga Project
James Fox – Founder of Prison Yoga Project
James Fox is the founder and director of the Prison Yoga Project, an organization dedicated to establishing yoga and mindfulness meditation programs in prisons and rehabilitation centers worldwide. Since 2002, he has taught yoga and meditation to male prisoners at California’s San Quentin Prison, as well as other state prisons. His book Yoga: A Path for Healing and Recovery, published in January 2010 through the support of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, has been requested and sent free of charge to over 8,000 prisoners. James provides trauma sensitive, mindfulness based teacher trainings in the U.S. and internationally for yoga instructors who are interested in leading classes in prisons and rehabilitation facilities. He has broad and extensive training in various yoga and meditation disciplines, and is specially trained in applying yoga practices for addiction recovery and trauma related issues.
Upon receiving his teaching credentials in 2000, James began his mission of sharing the psychologically therapeutic benefits of yoga and meditation with at-risk populations, including the incarcerated. In addition to his work with adult prisoners, he has experience teaching yoga and mindfulness practices to at-risk youth in juvenile detention; at a residential treatment facility for boys; and for an inner city gang-related community program. In 2003, James established the yoga curriculum for the Peacebuilders Initiative, an annual weeklong summer intensive for Chicago teenagers that focuses on youth learning community leadership, conflict transformation and peacemaking skills.
James is also on the staff of the Insight Prison Project, a California based non-profit that is a leading restorative justice agency involved in prisoner rehabilitation. He has served Insight Prison Project for several years as a facilitator of victim/offender education, violence prevention and emotional literacy classes for prisoners. In 2008 and 2009, James was awarded U.S. State Department Grants to advise and train people in charge of governmental and non-governmental prisoner rehabilitation programs in Guatemala and El Salvador.
Founder of Mindful Yoga Therapy
Suzanne Manafort – Founder of Mindful Yoga Therapy
Suzanne Manafort is the Founder and Director of Mindful Yoga Therapy, a program supported through the Give Back Yoga Foundation to help veterans find a calm and steady body and mind. Mindful Yoga Therapy protocol has been clinically studied, and is in use at 47 different VA facilities across the country. Certified yoga teachers can learn how to bring the Mindful Yoga Therapy program into their own communities through a 15-hour workshop, or into clinical settings through a 100-hour certification course.
Suzanne has studied extensively with Beryl Bender Birch at The Hard and The Soft Yoga Institute, and with Patty Townsend at Yoga Center Amherst’s Embodyoga® Teacher Training programs. She serves on the faculty at both schools, and as Director of her own studio, Newington Yoga Center. Suzanne has also completed the Living Tantra and Sage programs taught by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait at the Himalayan Institute. In 2009, she was designated a Wells Fargo Second Half Champion for her work with vets. She is co-author of the Mindful Yoga Therapy for Veterans multi-media practice guide, which has been distributed free of charge to over 13,500 veterans through the Give Back Yoga Foundation. She is also the producer of three CDs: Yoga Nidra, Breathe In Breathe Out, and Resilience.
Founder of Yoga of 12-Step Recovery
Nikki Myers – Founder of Yoga of 12-Step Recovery
An accomplished speaker, teacher, and practitioner, Nikki Myers is an MBA, C-IAYT Yoga Therapist, Somatic Experiencing Practitioner, Addictions Recovery Specialist, and Health Coach. Born from her personal struggle with addiction and work with countless students, Nikki is the founder of Yoga of 12-Step Recovery (Y12SR). Based on its theme ‘the issues live in the tissues’, Y12SR is a relapse prevention program that weaves the art and science of yoga with the practical tools of 12-step programs. Y12SR meetings are available internationally and the curriculum has rapidly becoming a feature of addiction recovery treatment centers. Nikki’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Black Enterprise, The Huffington Post, Origin Magazine, CBSnews.com and countless podcasts. She is honored to be a co-founder of the annual Yoga, Meditation and Recovery Conferences at Esalen Institute and Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. Nikki has been featured as a keynote speaker at the International Association of Yoga Therapist (IAYT) conference and the International Conference on Integrative Medicine held at Harvard Medical School. She was named a Yoga Journal Game Changer in 2015 and is an honored recipient of the esteemed NUVO Cultural Visionary Award.
Founder of yoga4cancer
Tari Prinster – Founder of yoga4cancer
Tari Prinster is a cancer survivor, master yoga teacher, author and founder of yoga4cancer (y4c), a yoga methodology for cancer survivors.
After a cancer diagnosis in 2000, yoga became Tari’s power tool to manage cancer treatment side effects. Two decades ago, minimal research existed to explain yoga benefits. Tari got curious about how yoga worked and why doctors did not recommend yoga as part of treatment recovery. She created a methodology tailored to survivors needs, educating them how yoga provides immunity lowering recurrence risk.
Tari’s organization, yoga4cancer trains yoga teachers and health care professionals around the world in this special methodology. Her book, Yoga for Cancer, available in English, Spanish and Japanese, illustrates how to manage side effects and boost immunity.
Featured in the film YogaWoman and awarded Yoga Journal’s First Seva Leadership Award, Tari’s mantra is “Cancer may take your breath away. Yoga gives it back.”
Founder of Eat Breathe Thrive
Chelsea Roff – Founder of Eat Breathe Thrive
Chelsea Roff is the Founder and Director of Eat Breathe Thrive. An author, researcher, and educator, she has spent nearly a decade pioneering integrative health programs for people with mental health challenges.
In 2011, Roff offered the first Yoga for Eating Disorders program to clients at a treatment center where she had once been treated for anorexia. This later became the heart of Eat Breathe Thrive: a seven-week intervention that combines yoga, meditation, and psychoeducation to help people recover from eating disorders. Two years later, she raised $50,000 in fifty days to kickstart Eat Breathe Thrive. Since its inception, she has brought the program to scale in thirty-two U.S states and seven countries.
Prior to her work in the charitable sector, Chelsea worked as a researcher and grant writer in a psychoneuroimmunology laboratory. Her early research focused on how yoga affects the immune systems of people with HIV/AIDs and cancer. She is currently overseeing a research initiative on the Eat Breathe Thrive program, which will be the largest ever study on a yoga programme for eating disorders.
This year, Chelsea took on an additional role as UK Operations Director for The Give Back Yoga Foundation. She is currently spearheading the initiative to bring The Give Back Yoga Foundation programs to scale in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe.
Advisory Board Members
By helping us to give back and spread the word about our mission, these internationally recognized teachers are igniting the flame of yoga service.
Rev. Jaganath Carrera
Michael Nancollas, MD
Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, PhD.
It takes a village to run a successful nonprofit yoga organization. This is our community.
Samantha Christodoulou – Creative Director
Samantha Christodoulou is the Creative Director of the Give Back Yoga Foundation, Director of Operations and Program Facilitator for Eat Breathe Thrive, and a Certified Yoga Teacher (RYT-500). She is also proud to be a Fellow of the Mental Health Collective.
Informed by her personal experience of yoga during recovery from depression, anxiety, and anorexia nervosa, Sam has an embodied understanding of the therapeutic benefits of the practice.
It was her subsequent passion for a holistic approach to health and wellbeing which drew her to Eat Breathe Thrive — first, serving as a volunteer during the the widely-successful Yoga for Eating Disorders crowdfunding campaign, and later, growing into a leadership role with the organization. After contributing time on-and-off to Give Back Yoga over the years, Sam officially joined the Give Back Yoga team in late 2018.
Guided by her personal and professional experiences, Sam is dedicated to empowering others with tools and practices to feel at home in their own bodies.
Frances Lin – Executive Assistant
Frances has been involved with yoga for over 10 years through teaching, managing a yoga studio, and other various administrative positions in the yoga world. At first a practitioner of the physical yoga postures, it was only a matter of time that the yogic lifestyle began to alter the rest of her life, off the mat. Frances believes in the transformation that yoga brings and is excited to be working with an organization like Give Back Yoga that creates opportunities for yoga to reach across populations. In her spare time, you will find her at a coffee shop, reading, or adventuring in the mountains.
Mat Grants Coordinator
Christine Moore – Mat Grants Coordinator
As Give Back Yoga’s Mat Grant Coordinator, Christine Moore helps to fuel the organization’s mission of sharing yoga with those who can benefit most. Christine’s own commitment to making yoga accessible to everyone made her a natural fit for the GBYF team. Her interest in yoga service was sparked while her son was deployed to Afghanistan. As a way of giving back and discovering more about what to expect when he returned, she started teaching yoga at the Denver VA Hospital, where she led classes for eighteen months. Teaching veterans was an unexpectedly fulfilling experience for Christine, and it became her favorite time of the week. It also inspired her interest in other underserved communities.
Expanding her education, Christine participated in the Mindful Yoga Therapy and Prison Yoga Project trainings sponsored by Give Back Yoga. She has studied with Matthew Sanford and is a C-IAYT yoga therapist. Christine currently teaches yoga in Palisade, Grand Junction and Fruita Colorado and in her private, home studio. Christine is currently leading workshops for Yoga teachers in Trauma Sensitive Yoga on the Western Slope and in Utah.
As well as being a yoga teacher, Christine has been a teacher of dance for 25 years, and enjoys leading her own combination yoga/dance, Shimmyasana and teaches private dance lessons at her home studio.
Along with a passion for healing through movement, Christine is also a writer. She has two published articles in the Shakti Yogi Journal, and is a frequent blogger. Christine’s dance and yoga students inspire her endlessly and teach her how to move through life with more appreciation, grace and joy. Connect with Christine to enjoy her blogs and find out more about her yoga and dance journey, as well as information about classes, privates, and workshops.
UK Operations Director
Chelsea Roff – UK Operations Director
Chelsea is the UK Operations Director for the Give Back Yoga Foundation. A strategist, researcher, and educator, she has spent nearly a decade developing and scaling charitable programs in the health sector.
For the past five years, Chelsea has served as Senior Program Director for Eat Breathe Thrive, a Give Back Yoga Foundation Legacy Program which provides yoga to people with eating disorders. In 2013, Chelsea raised $50,000 in fifty days to kickstart the program. Since its inception, she has brought the program to scale in thirty-two U.S states and seven countries.
Prior to her work in the charitable sector, Chelsea worked as a researcher and grant writer in a psychoneuroimmunology laboratory. She is currently overseeing a research initiative on the Eat Breathe Thrive program, which will be the largest ever study on a yoga programme for eating disorders.
Chelsea is an avid traveller and outdoor enthusiast, and is looking forward to making her home in London.
Kelly Tienken – Bookkeeper
As the bookkeeper for the Give Back Yoga Foundation, Kelly Tienken plays an essential role in ensuring that our organization’s bills are paid and our finances are in order.
Kelly enjoys being able to support the yoga community in any way she can. She has been practicing yoga for over fifteen years, and loves the focus, balance, and inner reflection it brings to her life.
Kelly joined the Give Back Yoga Foundation in March 2014, and her excitement for the organization has grown since then. She has always enjoyed helping others in need, and she is passionate about Give Back Yoga. When she isn’t in the studio or helping her clients stay on top of their finances, she volunteers in the community, and enjoys time with her husband and four children.