Distinguished Professor, Social Welfare and Public Policy; Director, Center of Policy Research on Aging
Luskin School of Public Affairs
Areas of Expertise:Aging, Demography & Population Studies, Health, Mobility & Opportunity
Torres-Gil is more than an academic. 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 was selected as a White House Fellow and served under Joseph Califano, then secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), and continued as a special assistant to the subsequent secretary of HEW, Patricia Harris. He was appointed (with Senate confirmation) by President Clinton as the first-ever U.S. assistant secretary on aging in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). As the Clinton 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 served under HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, 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 2010 he received his third presidential appointment (with Senate confirmation) 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. During his public service in Washington, D.C., he also served as staff director of the U.S. House Select Committee on Aging under his mentor, Congressman Edward R. Roybal.
At the local level, Torres-Gil has served as the vice president of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission and a member of the Harbor and Taxi commissions for the City of Los Angeles. He has also served as an appointed member of the Board of Airport Commissioners. At the state level, he was appointed by former Gov. Gray Davis to the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Veterans’ Homes and by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a delegate to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging.
He continues to provide important leadership in philanthropy and nonprofit 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.