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Nancy Epstein, MPH, MAHL

Rabbi Nancy Epstein

Clinical Teaching Professor
Community Health and Prevention
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MPH, Health Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
MAHL, Hebrew Letters, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
BA, Human Development, Colby College


Rabbi Nancy E. Epstein, clinical teaching professor in the Department of Community Health and Prevention, is an award-winning teacher and has served on the Drexel faculty since 2000. She received Drexel University’s Barbara G. Hornum Award for Teaching Excellence and Pedagogical Innovation in 2017 and is a four-time winner of the Dornsife School of Public Health’s Golden Apple Teaching Excellence Award.

Professor Epstein’s current work is focused on arts and public health, and she led the initiative to create the Arts in Public Health minor at the Dornsife School of Public Health. She is a trained public policy mediator and studied systems-centered training (SCT) with Yvonne Agazarian. In 2006, Professor Epstein was ordained a rabbi by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

Professor Epstein is fluent in many areas of public policy and public health practice. Her work focuses on building partnerships across sectors, and identifying, implementing and evaluating strategic initiatives. She has dedicated her career to relationship - building at the grassroots, community and policy levels and to bringing the best of evidence and research into public policy and practice.

In more than 40 years in the public health field, Nancy Epstein has held leadership positions in legislation, health policy and advocacy, program planning and evaluation, and non-profit management. She served as the Principal Investigator evaluating Philadelphia’s large-scale Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program, currently serves as a Trustee of the St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children, and is a contributing author to the first textbook on religion spirituality and public health.

Professor Epstein spent 16 years in Austin, Texas, where she was involved in a wide array of legislation. She was appointed by the Governor and Lt. Governor in 1985 to oversee the implementation of five new statewide indigent health care programs, two of which became national models and were enacted into law by the U.S. Congress. She served as Executive Director of the Texas Senate Committee on Hunger and Nutrition, Director of the Texas Disability Policy Consortium, Coordinator of the Texas Health and Human Service Coordinating Council’s Indigent Health Care Working Group, and Director of Special Programs at the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Professor Epstein returned to Washington, D.C. in 1998 to serve as Director of Health Policy and Programs for the Center for Policy Alternatives, a national non-profit organization working extensively with state-elected officials and legislators across the country. She was a full-time consultant to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Voices: Health Care for the Uninsured initiative and advised its grantees across the nation on policy, sustainability and community engagement. She has also directed an award-winning hospital-based community health promotion program, been a public interest lobbyist for the disability community, directed an international program in sustainable agriculture and worked with famers as a grassroots community organizer.

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.

Research Interests

  • Arts and Public Health
  • Community Organizing and Community-Engaged Research
  • Religion, Spirituality and Health
  • Behavioral Health
  • Program Planning and Evaluation


Epstein, N. Bluethenthal, A., Visser, D., Pinsky, C., & Minkler, M. (May 1, 2021). Leveraging arts for justice, equity and public health:  the Skywatchers program and its implications for community-based health promotion practice and research. Health Promotion Practice. Vol 22, Number 1 - Special Supplement on Arts in Public Health.

Bluethenthal, A., Visser, D., Epstein, N. & Pinsky, C. (in press 2021) Skywatchers’ Values-based Methodology and Guidance for Practice in M. Minkler & P. Wakimoto (Eds.). Community Organizing and Community Building for Health and Social Equity. (4th Ed. pp. 91s-100s). New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Grossman, S., Agosto, D.E., Winston, M., Epstein, N.E., Cannuscio, C.C., Martinez-Donate, A., & Klassen, K. (2021). How public libraries help immigrants adjust to life in a new country: A review of the literature. Health Promotion Practice.

"Watering the Earthly Garden with Sacred Flow: Tending to the Mental Health of Our Jewish Communities," an article with Rabbi Elisa Goldberg published in CCAR Journal: The Reform Jewish Quarterly (Fall 2019).

"Implications for Community Health Practitioners: Framing Religion and Spirituality Within a Social-Ecological Framework," a chapter in Why Religion and Spirituality Matter for Public Health: Evidence, Implications and Resources, edited by Doug Oman, Springer Publishers (2018).

"Incorporating Religion and Spirituality into Teaching and Practice: The Drexel School of Public Health Experience," a chapter in Why Religion and Spirituality Matter for Public Health: Evidence, Implications and Resources edited by Doug Oman, Springer Publishers (2018).

"Three Jewish Lenses for Work and Health," a chapter in Judaism and Health: A Handbook of Practical, Professional and Scholarly Resources edited by Jeff Levin, PhD, and Michele Prince, MSW, MAJS (2013).

People with Developmental Disabilities and Oral Health in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: A Research Report to the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council (2006).

Aching Teeth and Vanishing Dreams: The Dental Problems of Philadelphia’s At-Risk Children and Youth, Drexel University School of Public Health (2003).