Aranda Earns GSA’s 2022 James Jackson Outstanding Mentorship Award

For Immediate Release
July 26, 2022

Contact: Todd Kluss
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The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — has chosen María P. Aranda, PhD, MSW, MPA, FGSA, of the University of Southern California (USC) as the 2022 recipient of the James Jackson Outstanding Mentorship Award.

This distinguished honor is given annually and recognizes individuals who have exemplified outstanding commitment and dedication to mentoring minority researchers in the field of aging. It was renamed in 2021 in memory of James Jackson, PhD, FGSA, a pioneering psychologist in the fields of race and culture and the impact of racial disparities on minority health, and himself a previous recipient of the award.

The award presentation will take place at GSA’s 2022 Annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held from November 2 to 6 in Indianapolis, Indiana. This conference is organized to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, educators, and practitioners who specialize in the study of the aging process.

Aranda is a professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the executive director of the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging. She is an internationally recognized sociobehavioral scholar in the fields of social work, geriatrics, and gerontology.

During her academic career, she has fomented numerous academic careers of scholars from underrepresented communities and consistently provides continuous and intensive mentorship to primarily first-generation and underrepresented advisees/mentees. She has helped many of them transition to postdoctoral positions and assistant professorships in diverse fields such as social work, gerontology, sociology, psychology, public health, medicine, and health economics, among others.

Aranda also leads the National Institute on Aging-funded scholars training program titled “Interdisciplinary Aging Research to Address Health Disparities in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias,” which brings together senior mentors and early-career scholars from underrepresented groups (women, sexual and gender minorities, and racial/ethnic minority groups) for intensive training on Alzheimer's disease and related dementias health disparities.

Her research and clinical practice address racial/ethnic, sociocultural and demographic factors that impact physical functioning and psychological wellbeing in older and middle-age adults and their family caregivers from diverse racial and ethnic communities and socioeconomic levels. Her work elucidates disparities in health and health outcomes and informs culturally-attuned, evidenced-based interventions for diverse adults and families living with dementia, depression, multiple comorbidities, and other life-altering conditions that exert significant public health and personal burdens.

Among her many other accomplishments, Aranda developed the first Spanish-language support group for families affected by Alzheimer’s disease. She is well-known among community leaders for establishing model support programs such as the El Portal Latino Alzheimer's Project, Programa Esperanza, and Siempre Viva for individuals and families affected by depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

Aranda has served on several consensus committees of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on the geriatric workforce in mental health and substance use service sectors, family caregiving to older adults with functional limitations, financial capacity determination among social security beneficiaries, and functional assessment for adults with disabilities.

She frequently serves as an health equity expert for national organizations such as the National Institute on Aging, the IMPACT Collaboratory on Transforming Dementia Care, AARP, and National Caregiving Alliance, among others, and local strategic initiatives such as the California Governor’s Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force, and the Los Angeles Purposeful Aging Initiative.

Aranda is a GSA fellow, which represents the highest category of membership within the Society. She is a longtime member of GSA’s Social Research, Policy, and Practice section since the mid-1980s.


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society.

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