John Santos Distinguished Program Development in Clinical Gerontology Award

In 2009, the Executive Committee of Div. 20 inaugurated the John Santos Distinguished Program Development in Clinical Gerontology award.


Sponsor: Division 20


In 1994 John Santos, a longtime board member of the Retirement Research Fund, began to use his discretionary funds for the American Psychological Association's Division on Adult Development and Aging by funding an award for best student submission to the annual conference. Santos recognized that psychology, like other health professions, was having difficulty getting its students interested in work with older adults.

In 1996 he broadened the use of his discretionary funds when he funded a conference on late life depression as part of the Wayne State University continuing education program. Santos funded that conference and a conference on clinical psychological issues in older adults annually though 2008 because of his strong belief that psychologists and other health professionals were poorly prepared to work with mental health problems in their older clients and patients. He recognized early in the 1990's that the hoped-for expansion in training for geriatrics and gerontology was not going to be realized. In the 21st century established practitioners would need to gain expertise to treat our nation's older adults. By the late 1990's and into the 2000's Santos greatly expanded his support. He used his RRF discretionary funds to ensure that prestigious awards were made to recognize the important contributions of psychologists and students in psychology who worked with older adults.

He helped to sponsor an intensive program on geropsychology organized by the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He also helped to sponsor a conference on Training Psychologists for Work in Aging, known as "Older Boulder". Santos recognized that large amounts of monies were now being put forth to train physicians, nurses and social workers through organizations such as the Reynolds and Hartford Foundations. The absence of support for psychologists in the training enterprise led him to become even more passionate about creating enduring programs and awards that would honor the psychologists and students in psychology who work with older adults.


Nominees need not be members of Div. 20 but they must be nominated and endorsed by a division member.

How to Apply

Nomination materials should be sent in one email to the chair of the Awards Committee, Jennifer Birdsall and Cecilia Poon, with "D20 Santos Award nomination" noted as the subject of the email. The nomination materials will include the following:

  • A letter of nomination (by a Div. 20 member) describing the specific program(s) in which the nominee has provided leadership.

  • A current CV of the nominee.

  • Evidence of the positive impact of the contribution(s) on older persons.

  • A brief statement by the nominee of his or her current work and future plans.

  • At least two additional letters of support. One letter must be from a Div. 20 member and one from someone who was in a position to see the effects of the program or were a participant in the program. 

Nominees will be reviewed by a committee of past-presidents, as well as past and present members of the Div. 20 Executive Committee.

The recipient will be presented with a plaque and a cash award of $1,500 at the Div. 20 Business Meeting during the annual APA Annual Convention in the year the award is received.

Past Recipients


Victor Molinari


Forrest Scogin


Peter Lichtenberg


Debbie DiGilio


Sherry Willis

Last updated: August 2021Date created: April 2019