Meet Esther Karpilow, Community Outreach Coordinator for the Community Engagement core group at the Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Esther is a recent graduate of Occidental College with a degree in Black Studies and has experience in public health, mental wellness, and community organizing. In her role, she conducts educational workshops and listening sessions for communities in South Los Angeles, specifically focusing on issues relevant to the Black community. Here, Esther shares more about her educational and professional background, why she chose to join the Community Engagement team, and the way she approaches wellness through reiki and breathwork.

Where are you from? 
Oakland, CA

What do you do in your current role?
I support academic-community partnerships and participate in program planning for South L.A. communities, with a specific focus on the Black community. I also help design and conduct educational workshops and community listening sessions alongside my team. Furthermore, I support new programs to create awareness about research and wellness issues relevant to the Black community.

Can you share a bit about your educational and work experience? 
I recently graduated from Occidental College with a degree in Black Studies. My senior thesis focused on Black women’s use of holistic wellness practices as a means of liberation and intergenerational healing. I have work experience in public health, mental wellness, and community organizing.

What compelled you to join the Community Engagement group at SC CTSI?
I was compelled to join Community Engagement at CTSI because I align with their values when it comes to connecting and serving the community directly through promoting wellness.

What does community mean to you?
Community means learning from and caring for one another. It is an important part of our wellness. It’s a place of joy and shared values.

What is most rewarding about your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is being able to work with community members and organizers personally. I learn the most from working alongside my team and individuals in the communities we serve.

What inspires you?
Seeing people committed to bettering their community in whatever way they know best. Everyone has different skills and talents, so seeing the ways in which people utilize their various strengths to support those around them is inspiring to me.

What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
I enjoy reading, doing yoga, and going on hikes. I’m also a Reiki II and breathwork practitioner, and I like learning about different ways of approaching wellness!

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to get involved in community work?
Listen to the people that you’re serving! Don’t assume you understand their needs before asking and listening.

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important - All publications resulting from the utilization of SC CTSI resources are required to credit the SC CTSI grant by including the NIH funding acknowledgment and must comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.