Meet Isabelle Loring

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

Isabelle Loring

Steppingstone Board Chair 2018–2021, Creator of the Loring Cornerstone Fund

As her own children were growing up, Isabelle Loring yearned to make a difference in kids’ lives more broadly. In a city with so many nonprofits doing important work, she found in Steppingstone a singular vision that sparked an abiding passion.  

She traces her and her family’s Steppingstone story to 2008 and a chance conversation on the sidelines of a soccer game with co-founder Mike Danziger. His naturally engaging spirit and deep belief in Scholars’ dreams of college are still etched in her memory. Curious to learn more, she and her husband Ian accepted an invitation to join Mike at an upcoming Gala.

“When the Scholars told their stories, we were so impressed by their courage and resilience,” Isabelle recounts. “We knew right away that we wanted to get more involved.”

Ever since, she’s felt lucky to support and guide the work of Steppingstone. She went on to serve on the Board of Directors and completed her tenure as its chair this summer. Celebrating the organization’s milestone 30th anniversary, Isabelle sees “a really vibrant organization that’s always trying to improve itself.” 

BETTER AND BETTER

From the moment Isabelle joined the board, she quickly came to appreciate the leadership of Kelly Glew as president and Brian Conway as board chair. “At every turn, they continually tried to do better for the Scholars,” she says. The organization took several important steps forward, from expanding its reach to serve more students and families to building the scaffolding to support Scholars’ success from middle school through college. 

“Steppingstone is always working to keep pace with the changing educational landscape,” Isabelle says. 

Isabelle can’t say enough about the extraordinary staff who make it all happen. Across Steppingstone, she’s met so many people “that I aspire to be like,” she says. Kelly, for one, “is just a remarkable human being.”

A LIFE-CHANGING OPPORTUNITY

When Brian Conway announced that he’d be stepping aside as chair in 2018, Isabelle knew that he had set an incredibly high bar for the role. She joined a small team charged with considering who might be the best fit given everything on the horizon.

As her teammates imagined what Steppingstone needed most, they came to see that the best person was already sitting right in front of them: Isabelle. It took some convincing, but in the end she trusted their judgement and their faith in her.

“They gave me courage,” she says gratefully. “They emboldened me.” 

She accepted the position of board chair that fall, and she couldn’t be happier with the decision. “It’s been a life-changing opportunity,” she says.

At the time, she never imagined the breadth and complexity of work ahead, but the challenges of racism and COVID-19 as dual pandemics only strengthened the Steppingstone community’s resolve. Isabelle’s leadership encompassed completing a comprehensive strategic plan, rewriting the mission statement, and launching a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee on the Board of Directors, while also leading Steppingstone’s fundraising efforts.   

SCHOLARS’ DREAMS

Through it all, she says, “what I’ve loved is getting to know Steppingstone on a deeper level.” 

Isabelle’s favorite moments center on the Scholars. She relishes any chance to visit Steppingstone classes in the summer or during the school year and see them in action. Their curiosity and determination always stand out to her. 

“They have such big dreams,” she reflects, “and Steppingstone helps them envision endless possibilities.” 

She often finds herself going back to one of her earliest Steppingstone memories. Her daughter had just begun 7th grade at Nobles. During her first week of school, Isabelle went to a visiting night for parents. Going from class to class following an abbreviated schedule, she kept seeing a boy with his mother. Later, she realized he was translating for her. As Isabelle came to know him through his friendship with her children, she learned he was a Steppingstone Scholar. 

When a child becomes a Steppingstone Scholar, “it impacts the whole family,” she reflects. It’s a point echoed by countless Alumni in telling their own family stories. To Isabelle, “it’s one of many ways that Steppingstone makes our community stronger and better.”

A FAMILY TRADITION

One thing that makes Isabelle most proud is seeing how her whole family has become involved and invested in Steppingstone.

From that first conversation on the soccer field with Mike Danziger, her husband, Ian, “has been such a partner in this.” She values his tremendous support in every role that she’s had. Time after time, he’s been there for her. 

Even when their kids were younger, Isabelle appreciates that Steppingstone’s mission was something that they could grasp and get behind. All are now young adults in their 20s. It’s been a pure joy to see their children’s own passion and engagement with Steppingstone. Their daughter just joined the Board of Young Professionals, and Isabelle expects her sons will soon follow in their sister’s footsteps.

SEEING THE RESULTS

“What makes me happier than anything is to see that Steppingstone is just getting stronger,” she says. While she’s completed her time as board chair, she says, “Steppingstone will always be my top philanthropic priority and I plan on staying involved as long as they’ll have me!”

Early on in her board service, Isabelle went along with fellow directors on a field trip of sorts to see the Steppingstone afterschool program in action. Observing an English class, she heard an 11-year-old boy recite a poem that he’d written. “He was so earnest,” she remembers. His pride in his work shone in his face.

His is also a family story, a story of a mom who wanted so much for her child and had the courage to become a fierce advocate for his education. When she found Steppingstone, he’d been attending an elementary school flagged as underperforming.

When Isabelle met him that day, he’d just found out he’d been admitted to the Park School.

It’s one of the many unforgettable encounters that fuel her passion. “It’s incredibly inspiring to be involved with an organization that is changing the trajectory of someone’s life,” she says. When she looks to the successes of Scholars and Alumni, “it’s palpable. You can see the results.” 


The Loring Cornerstone Fund

Over the years, Isabelle has dedicated significant time, leadership, and resources to Steppingstone. The Loring Cornerstone Fund is her latest groundbreaking initiative to build Steppingstone’s capacity to support the next generation of Scholars. Every gift is an investment in their dreams for the future.

Support the Loring Cornerstone Fund