Professor Epstein has worked in the field of public health for 32 years. Originally trained as a community health educator, she has held leadership positions in health policy and legislation, advocacy, community organizing, non-profit management, and public health education. Her work has spanned a diverse range of topics, including health care for underserved communities, health insurance disparities, patients’ rights, hunger, nutrition, physical and mental disabilities, oral health, health promotion and sustainable agriculture.
Professor Epstein spent many years in Austin, Texas, where she was involved in developing and passing state legislation. She was appointed jointly by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1985 to oversee the implementation of five innovative statewide indigent health care programs, two of which became models for large scale legislation and programs enacted on the national level by the U.S. Congress. She served as Executive Director of the Texas Senate Committee on Hunger and Nutrition and Executive Director of the Disability Policy Consortium. When she left Austin in 1998, she returned to Washington, D.C. where she served as Director of Health Policy and Programs for the Center for Policy Alternatives, a national non-profit organization that worked extensively with state-elected officials and legislators in 40 states across the country. Prior to her arrival in Philadelphia in 2000, she was serving as a full time consultant to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in its Community Voices: Health Care for the Uninsured initiative—the largest initiative in the foundation’s history. She has also directed an award winning hospital-based community health promotion program and directed an international program in sustainable agriculture. Professor Epstein is fluent in many areas of public health policy and practice. In all of her work, she emphasizes the importance of synthesis and looking across individual issue areas to identify opportunities for meaningful impact and relationship-building at the grassroots, community level.
Professor Epstein received her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1980, a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters (MAHL), rabbinic ordination and chaplaincy certificate from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2006, and Bachelor of Arts degree in human development from Colby College in Waterville, Maine in 1977. She is the author of Aching Teeth and Vanishing Dreams: The Dental Problem's of Philadelphia's At-Risk Children and Youth: A Needs Assessment and Blueprint for Action published by Drexel University in 2003 and numerous articles.
Research Interests: Faith and health; arts, spirituality and health; relationships of caring and health; violence prevention and social justice; resilience; epidemiology of religion; community engagement and assessment; health education and coalition building; food and nutrition systems; legislative advocacy and health policy; access to health care; health disparities; health and disability policy.
People with Developmental Disabilities and Oral Health in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: A Research Report to the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council (October 2006)
Aching Teeth and Vanishing Dreams: The Dental Problems of Philadelphia’s At-Risk Children and Youth, Drexel University School of Public Health (March 2003)
Psychosocial Services and Resources Referral Guide, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001
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