Harvath Takes Office as The Gerontological Society of America’s President, Board Chair

For Immediate Release
January 7, 2021

Contact: Todd Kluss
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Theresa (Terri) Harvath, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA, of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis has been installed as the new president of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging. She was elected by GSA’s membership, which consists of more than 5,500 researchers, educators, practitioners, and other professionals.

Harvath is the 77th person to hold the office of president since the Society was founded in 1945. In this capacity, she will oversee matters of GSA’s governance and strategic planning, while also managing the program for GSA’s 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting. She has chosen “Disruption to Transformation: Aging in the ‘New Normal’” as the theme for this conference, scheduled for November 10 to 14 in Phoenix, Arizona. Harvath has also assumed the role of chair of GSA’s Board of Directors, following the recent passing of Board Chair Kathryn Hyer, MPP, PhD, FGSA, FAGHE.

“2020 disrupted the lives of so many people across the globe. Between the pandemic, the acrimonious political climate, the protests against structural racism and the disasters wrought by climate change, no one was left untouched,” Harvath said. “Older adults, especially older adults of color, have borne a disproportionate burden of these events. My sincere hope is that as we embark on this new year, we take the time to appreciate what is good and work together to create substantive change in how we care for the most vulnerable in our society.”

Harvath is a professor and the senior director for strategic initiatives at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. In this role, she leads initiatives and partnerships across UC Davis Health to ensure the best care, research, and innovation for the older adult population. She also serves as the founding director of the school’s Family Caregiving Institute, which launched in 2017 to advance research, education, and policy to support caregivers.

An internationally recognized expert in gerontological nursing and nursing education, Harvath focuses her research on understanding and improving the relationship between individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and their family caregivers to improve home-health care.

Prior to her UC Davis appointment, Harvath was the director of the Hartford Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence and the Advanced Practice Gerontological Nursing Program at Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing, where she was also a professor. She has 25 years of nursing education experience and 10 years’ experience as a clinical nurse specialist and staff nurse. She earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in nursing from Oregon Health & Science University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Harvath’s written work is widely published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and other publications including the American Journal of Nursing, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Gerontological Nursing, and Clinical Nursing Research. She is a fellow in GSA and the American Academy of Nursing.

“Whether in teaching, research, or clinical practice, Dr. Harvath is passionate about the health and health care of older people, as well as their family caregivers,” said GSA CEO James Appleby, BSPharm, MPH. “We welcome her leadership expertise and look forward to implementing her vision for the Society in the year ahead.”


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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