Our Staff

Nancy Halpern Ibrahim, MPH
Executive Director


Nancy Halpern Ibrahim recently celebrated 21 years with Esperanza Community Housing and has served as Executive Director since 2006. Nancy was recruited in 1995 based on her experience developing community health leadership with women in Palestine, and later, after earning her Master of Public Health from UCLA, with the deaf community in Damascus, Syria. Cognizant of the similarities between South Los Angeles and life under occupation, she joined Esperanza’s staff as inaugural Director of Health Programs. She developed the model community health leadership program, Promotores de Salud, which led to the first class of Esperanza’s Community Health Promoters graduating from the program in 1996. To date this program has graduated 462 bi-lingual women and men. As Director of Health Programs, she established the framework for the programs at the intersection of health and housing that characterize much of Esperanza’s work. Her efforts have been central to pioneering environmental health strategies in the region, and to advancing the reputation of Mercado La Paloma, Esperanza’s economic development venue, as a cultural and culinary hub. As Executive Director, Nancy is committed to principles of responsible, inclusive development without displacement, and the stabilization of communities strongly rooted in health and human rights. She leads a staff of 32, addressing five major program areas: Affordable Housing, Health, Environmental Justice, Economic Development, and Art and Culture.

Norma Benitez
Director of Programs


Norma Benitez joined the team of Esperanza Community Housing Corporation in 2008 as the Assistant Director of Health Programs.  She grew up in South Central Los Angeles and relocated to Santa Barbara where she pursued a Bachelors Degree in Women Studies and Chicana/o Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. During her undergraduate years, Ms. Benitez was actively involved in numerous grassroots community projects, with the goal to improve the Latino community of Isla Vista. Ms. Benitez has worked in the non-profit sector for close to ten years, serving primarily the Latino community. Her work as an outreach worker, family advocate, case manager, programs manager, and school and family relations director has provided her the opportunity to bring forth much needed services and programs to families and youth in the Santa Barbara area. Ms. Benitez is also a graduate of the Promotores De Salud Program of Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinic, Class of 2005. In her free time she enjoys running after her two year old daughter, discovering new places in Los Angeles and sneaking in a nap or two.

Gabriela Gonzalez
Project Manager/ Community Health Promoter

Healthy Homes Project

Gabriela Gonzalez is currently the Program Manager of Esperanza’s Healthy Homes Demonstration Program.  Ms. Gonzalez grew up in South Central Los Angeles.  Despite the bad stigma South Central has, she is very proud of her roots.  Being a Community Health Promoters enables her to make a change in her community; being the voice of the families she serves is very rewarding.  The Community Health Promoters Program has changed her life, allowing her to learn about different health topics and resources that she is able to apply in her personal life and in the community she serves.

Ashley Lewis
AsMA Project Manager

Asthma Management Academy

Arden Caffrey
Healthy Breathing Project Manager

Healthy Breathing Project

Yadira Arevalo
Project Coordinator
Building Healthy Communities – Community Engagement


Rabeya Sen
Director of Policy


Hugo Garcia
Campaign Coordinator for Environmental Justice

People Not Pozos Project

Ivy Panlilio
Development Director


Alex Choi
Director of Finance