When Nancy Halpern Ibrahim was recruited as the founding director of health programs for Esperanza Community Housing Corporation in 1995, she was empowered by her experience developing community health leadership with women in Palestine and her later human rights work with the deaf community in Damascus, Syria. She was also equipped with a master’s of public health from UCLA. Ibrahim developed the renowned health leadership program Promotoras de Salud at Esperanza, unlocking the under-recognized gifts of community members. She devised a training and career development program for local residents, addressing a spectrum of health concerns found in so many low-income communities, including primary prevention, health access, lead poisoning prevention, healthy homes interventions, and asthma addressed through a home visitation model. To date, 533 women and men have graduated from the Promotoras de Salud program. Since 2006, Ibrahim has served as executive director of Esperanza where she leads a staff of 31 addressing five major program areas: affordable housing, primary prevention and community health, environmental justice, economic development, and art and culture. She pioneered environmental health strategies, such as the South Los Angeles Healthy Homes collaborative, improving family health, housing habitability, and tenant rights; and the People not Pozos campaign and STAND LA (Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling) coalition, both of which focused on environmental justice in communities at the front lines of neighborhood gas and oil extraction. She has advanced the reputation of Mercado La Paloma, Esperanza’s economic development venue, as a premier cultural and culinary destination in South Central Los Angeles. Ibrahim champions equitable community development without displacement and community health leadership with cadres of Promotores de Salud and collaborative partners, based on the principles of inclusivity, racial equity, and human rights.
Among other honors, Ibrahim was inducted into the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Alumni Hall of Fame in 2003 and received the UCLA Award for Community Service in 2015.