Our Founder: Sister Diane

It is with great sorrow that we announce the loss of our vibrant and energetic founder and visionary, Sister Diane Donoghue SSS. She transitioned peacefully early Sunday morning on February 26, 2017 in Los Angeles on her 86th birthday.

Diane leaves a great legacy as a community builder and activist for tenants’ rights and affordable housing. She also committed herself to work for her faith community, the Sisters of Social Service. She had the great gift of loving well and deeply – her family and friends – nurturing these relationships throughout her life. She is an enduring inspiration to the many who have known and loved her. Sister Diane Donoghue will long be remembered for her joyful presence, her dynamism and tenacity, and for her fierce hope for justice and equity. Esperanza Community Housing and Mercado la Paloma, which she founded, will continue to advance and serve the South Los Angeles community in her honor. We will keep Diane’s legacy alive. – Nancy Halpern Ibrahim, Executive Director

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Diane Donoghue Legacy Fund of Esperanza Community Housing. Thank you, your help is vital.

About Sister Diane Donoghue

Diane Donoghue moved to Los Angeles with her family in 1935. In 1955 Diane entered the Sisters of Social Service. In 1969 she received a Master of Social Work degree from the University of California at Berkeley. She went on to work as the director of a residential treatment center for adolescents with mental health issues in Sacramento, and then as the co-sponsor/director of a residential center for heroin-addicted women in South Central Los Angeles.

Following a year of Sabbatical Studies at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union, SisterDiane became the Community Organizer for St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in South Central Los Angeles in 1985.

Four years later, as members of her community faced threats of eviction, Sister Diane founded Esperanza. Esperanza’s first project was Villa Esperanza Apartments: 33 units of affordable housing for large families, a community center, and an onsite Head Start program.

In 2006, Sister Diane retired from Esperanza. She went on to work with the Development Department of the Sisters of Social Service

Sister Diane received many awards and accolades for her work  including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing, the UCLA Alumni Award for Community Service, the 2007 UCLA Alumnus of the Year Award, the Empowerment Award from the Los Angeles Archdiocese, an Honorary Doctorate from Occidental College, and the 2002 National “Courage in Community” Award from the McAuley Institute.