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Fernando Torres-Gil

2013 Conference Co-Chair

Fernando Torres-Gil is a Professor of Social Welfare and Public Policy at the University of California–Los Angeles Luskin School of Public Affairs, and is the Director of the UCLA Center for Policy Research on Aging. He served as co-chair of NASI’s 25th annual policy conference, “Medicare and Social Security in a Time of Budget Austerity”on January 31 – February 1, 2013.

“Fernando’s long and distinguished career of leadership in aging and disability policy is remarkable,” said NASI President Larry Atkins. “He continues to make his mark as a policymaker, policy analyst, thinker, and teacher. He is a role model and mentor for today’s new generations of thinkers and leader on social insurance policy.”

Torres-Gil’s multifaceted career spans the academic, professional, and policy arenas. He has an impressive portfolio of public service and national and international recognition as a leading spokesperson on demographics, aging, and public policy. He earned his first presidential appointment in 1978, when President Carter appointed him to the Federal Council on Aging. He later served as White House Fellow and Special Assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and as Staff Director of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aging.

Torres-Gil was appointed by President Clinton as the first Assistant Secretary for Aging in the Department of Health and Human Services, where he served from 1993 to 1997. As the Administration’s chief advocate on aging, Torres-Gil played a key role in promoting the importance of the issues of aging, long-term care and disability, community services for the elderly, and baby boomer preparation for retirement. He also worked with HHS Secretary Donna Shalala in overseeing aging policy throughout the federal government, managing the Administration on Aging, and organizing the 1995 White House Conference on Aging, in addition to serving as a member of the President’s Welfare Reform Working Group. In 20l0, he received his third presidential appointment when President Obama appointed him as Vice Chair of the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency that reports to the Congress and White House on federal matters related to disability policy. 

Torres-Gil’s academic accomplishments parallel his record of government and public policy service. He has served as Associate Dean and Acting Dean at the UCLA School of Public Affairs, and most recently Chair of the Social Welfare Department. He has written six books and over l00 publications, including The New Aging: Politics and Change in America (1992) and Lessons from Three Nations, Volumes I and II (2007). His academic contributions have earned him membership in the prestigious Academies of Public Administration, Gerontology and Social Insurance. His research spans important topics of health and long-term care, disability, entitlement reform, and the politics of aging. Torres-Gil served as President of the American Society on Aging from 1989 to 1992 and is a founding member of the National Academy of Social Insurance. He continues to provide important leadership in philanthropy and non-profit organizations as a board member of the AARP Foundation, and he is a former board member of The California Endowment, National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California and the Los Angeles Chinatown Service Center. He earned an A.A. in Political Science at Hartnell Community College, a B.A. with honors in Political Science from San Jose State University, and an M.S.W. and Ph.D. in Social Policy, Planning and Research from the Heller School at Brandeis University.

Torres-Gil was born and raised in Salinas, California, the son of migrant farm workers. When he’s not working on aging and disability policy, he serves on numerous Los Angeles city and local planning commissions. He’s currently an appointed member of the Board of Airport Commissioners, and previous positions include Vice President of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission and member of the Harbor and Taxi Commissions for the city of Los Angeles.