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Wilber Earns GSA’s 2023 Donald P. Kent Award

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — has chosen Kathleen Wilber PhD, FGSA, of the University of Southern California (USC) as the 2023 recipient of the Donald P. Kent Award.

This distinguished honor is given annually to a GSA member who best exemplifies the highest standards for professional leadership in gerontology through teaching, service, and interpretation of gerontology to the larger society. It was established in 1973 in memory of Donald P. Kent, PhD, for his outstanding leadership in translating research findings into practical use.

The award presentation will take place at GSA’s 2023 Annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held from November 8 to 12 in Tampa, Florida. This conference is organized to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers, educators, and practitioners who specialize in the study of the aging process.

Wilber is the Mary Pickford Foundation Professor of Gerontology and a professor of health services administration at USC and is the director of the USC Leonard Davis School Secure Old Age Laboratory, and co-director of the USC Family Caregiver Support Center. Her leadership expertise in elder mistreatment, caregiving, and long-term  services, and supports, as well as her commitment to practice improvement, have made an enormous impact on the profession and, by extension, have improved the well-being of older adults throughout the nation.

Wilber has led several seminal projects aimed at improving gerontological practice. Over the past decade, she and her team have provided leadership in studying the effectiveness of the Elder Abuse Forensic Center model, a multidisciplinary team that links health and social services with the justice system. To inform policy and practice in an area that lacks evidence-based research, Wilber and her team have  systematically identified the model’s processes and system level  outcomes for clients and professional participants as well as implementation considerations and challenges.

Wilber was the principal investigator of a study that characterized and classified Elder Abuse Forensic Centers and other elder abuse multidisciplinary teams around the country, with support of a $1.3 million award from the Administration for Community Living. She also recently served as the principal investigator on a $1.4 million grant from the National Institute of Justice, where she partnered with Kaiser Permanente to develop and pilot-test an approach to preventing elder mistreatment through caregiver education and supports.

Additionally, she has worked with the city and county of Los Angeles to develop an age-friendly initiative and more recently consulted with these systems of government to determine the best organizational structure for providing aging services in the diverse and expansive Los Angeles region. At the state level, she is a governor’s appointee to the Disability and Aging Community Living Advisory Committee, she oversaw the state-funded Center for Long-Term Care Integration and the California Task Force on Family Caregiving, and has had major leadership roles in improving assessment and data integration for California’s long-term services and supports. Her efforts to inform policy and practice have extended to the national level as well, providing input to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the White House Conference on Aging, and the American Bar Association, among other organizations.

Wilber is a GSA fellow, which represents the highest category of membership within the Society, and a fellow of GSA’s educational member group, the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education. She is also a previous recipient of GSA’s Elaine M. Brody SRPP Thought Leader Award.


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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