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Carroll L. Estes

Policy Advocate and Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco

Carroll L. Estes, Ph.D. is Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she founded and directed the campus-wide Institute for Health & Aging, and chaired the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the School of Nursing. With a career now spanning five decades, Estes continues to be one of the foremost innovative thinkers and educators on the interaction of social insurance with gender, race/ethnicity, and class issues, and she has used this work to inform policymaking in the fields of social insurance, aging, and health.

“Carroll is an unparalleled leader and pioneer,” said William Arnone, Chief Executive Officer of the Academy. “She is also a person who cares deeply about the human condition. Her rigorous scholarship is matched by her passion for improving people’s lives. She is truly deserving of this recognition with the Ball Award.”

A founding member of the Academy, Estes was fortunate to be mentored by Bob Ball, Philip Lee, and Dorothy Rice. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and past President of three national organizations in aging: The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the American Society on Aging (ASA), and the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE). She is former chair of the Board of Directors of The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) and its Foundation, and of the Center for Global Policy Solutions. Estes has consulted to Commissioners of Social Security and U.S. Senate and House Committees on Aging for three decades.

Estes received the University of California Medal, the university system’s highest recognition. The San Francisco League of Women Voters named her, “A Woman Who Could Be President,” and The National Organization of Women (NOW) named her a “Woman of Action.” Other academic honors include the UCSF Faculty Research Lecture Award, the Chancellor’s Award for the Advancement of Women, and the School of Nursing’s Nahm Research and Doctoral Mentor Awards. Estes has also received Distinguished Scholar Awards from the American Sociological Association, the Pacific Sociological Association, the American Public Health Association (APHA), ASA, GSA, the American Academy of Nursing, and the Gray Panthers. She is an honorary fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN).

Widely recognized for her contributions and public service beyond academia, Estes was awarded the Justice in Aging Advocacy Award in 2014. “We are proud to honor Carroll with this distinction,” says Kevin Prindiville, Academy Member and Executive Director of Justice in Aging. “Carroll’s research on Social Security, Medicare, health reform, long term care, and gender disparities, in addition to her strategic approach to partnership and advocacy, has impacted the lives of millions of older adults.”

Estes’ current research is on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care, and women’s economic and health security. Credited as a founding scholar of the Political Economy of Aging, Estes has authored, co-authored, and co-edited 25 books including: The Aging Enterprise (1979), Social Policy & Aging (2001), Social Insurance & Social Justice (2009), and Aging A-Z: Concepts Toward Emancipatory Gerontology (2019). Her co-edited books, The Nation’s Health (with Philip Lee) and Health Policy (with Charlene Harrington), were adopted in 400 Schools of Medicine and Nursing. Estes’ research appears in The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Health Care Financing Review, Health Affairs, Milbank Quarterly, Social Science & Medicine, The American Journal of Public Health, The American Journal of Sociology, and The Gerontologist, among other journals.

Estes received her A.B. from Stanford University, M.A. from Southern Methodist University, Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, and an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Russell Sage College. Her daughter, Duskie Estes and son-in-law, John Stewart, are award-winning chefs, with two granddaughters, Brydie and Mackenzie.

Carroll Estes received the 2019 Robert M. Ball Award on June 27, in Washington, DC. Watch her acceptance speech on the event page.