The Center for Excellence in Aging & Longevity is an initiative from San Diego State University’s Social Policy Institute (SPI) and School of Social Work.  

What We Do

The Center for Excellence in Aging & Longevity engages, collaborates, and leverages opportunities to develop and disseminate innovative and evidence-based approaches. Our areas of focus include:


Who We Are

Our core staff bring expertise in aging, social justice, collaboration with diverse community voices, caregiving, advocacy, policy, community-based services, program design and implementation, and research and evaluation.  

Headshot of Steve Hornberger

Steve Hornberger, Co-Director 
Steve Hornberger is Co-Director of the Center for Excellence in Aging & Longevity which has received several grants and contracts for community engagement, workforce development and innovative partnerships. He also serves as Co-Director of the Social Policy Institute (SPI) administering a number of statewide contracts and local projects to expand child, family, and community well-being. In 2018, Steve received the SDSU Provost’s Innovation Award for the SPI Board Fellows Program. In 2022, Steve was selected to serve on the California Aging and Disability Research Partnership (CADRP) to develop baseline information on the health, economic stability and well-being of older Californians to identify service gaps, understand challenges, highlight priorities for service and provide a research model for the CA Department of Aging moving forward.

Headshot of Jong Won Min

Jong Won Min, Co-Director 
Dr. Jong Won Min is Co-Director of the Center for Excellence in Aging & Longevity. He also serves as Director of the SDSU School of Social Work and is a John A. Hartford Faculty Scholar. His areas of research include health inequalities, racial disparity in health, minority aging, long-term care, and cultural diversity. Dr. Min is also a steering committee member for the Live Well Center for Innovation & Leadership, a collaboration between SDSU and the County of San Diego to strengthen the linkage between health and human services practice and its academic base.

Headshot of Michelle Matter

Michelle Matter, Director of Aging 
Michelle Matter is Director of Aging for the Center for Excellence in Aging & Longevity. She brings more than 25 years of experience working in state government, higher education, and the nonprofit aging sector. Michelle has a doctorate in organizational change and leadership and her dissertation is a promising practice study examining the benefits of senior nutrition programs as a cost savings to Medicare. As a lifelong learner, Michelle has an MBA with healthcare specialization and a master’s degree in gerontology. She was also an ASA RISE Fellow focusing on diversity in aging, advocacy, social justice, and leadership development.

Headshot of Brenda Bothel-Hammond

Brenda Bothel-Hammond, Manager of Age-Friendly Communities 
Brenda Bothel-Hammond has dedicated the past 25 years to supporting older adults’ ability to age with dignity in San Diego County. She has created and supervised award-winning services which have been replicated throughout the nation. Most recently, she has spearheaded the Age-Friendly Communities initiatives, working with various municipalities in San Diego County. 

Headshot of Fernando Reyes

Fernando Reyes, Peer Support Advisor
Fernando Reyes is the Peer Support Specialist for the Center for Excellence in Aging & Longevity. His experience includes working for the State of California for 18 years. With a desire to improve quality of life in under-resourced communities, Fernando earned his MBA and changed career paths to serve in the non-profit sector. His areas of focus include economic stability, nutrition, housing, and caregiver support.

Nancy Verdin

Nancy Verdin, Graduate Assistant
Nancy is a dedicated advocate for uplifting communities and positive change. She has made contributions through her roles at diverse non-profit organizations, focusing on vital areas such as youth advocacy and education, drug prevention, and community organization. A proud alumna of the University of California, Irvine, Nancy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, which ignited a passion for community involvement and catalyzed her drive to actively contribute to constructive transformation. Currently, she is actively pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Work, specializing in Administration and Community Development, in the hopes of elevating her skills and knowledge to lead impactful initiatives.

Emily Allison

Emily Allison, Graduate Assistant
Emily is a third year graduate student at San Diego State University who is pursuing her dual master’s degree in Social Work and Public Health (MSW/MPH). Her passion for illuminating frontline social work experience at the macro-level is highlighted through her internship with Alvarado Hospital as a medical Social Worker and as a Behavioral Specialist with ACES. Over the last year, Emily has worked as a Board Fellow, providing consulting services to the board members of a local non-profit organization in San Diego. This year, Emily will be serving an administrative intern with Rady Children’s Chadwick Center and as a graduate assistant with the Social Policy Institute working on projects related to aging across the lifespan.

Jocelyn Smith

Jocelyn Smith, Graduate Assistant
Jocelyn is in her third year as a graduate student pursuing a dual MSW/MPH at San Diego State University. She is a proud University of Pittsburgh alumni, where she completed her bachelor’s degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics in 2013, and launched her career as a Registered Dietitian. She is a fierce advocate for food justice, food insecurity, and equitable, accessible healthcare. Her career over the past decade has been peppered with opportunities to engage in direct patient care, research, community needs assessment, program development and implementation, and advocacy. As a dual MSW and MPH major, she is excited to be merging the social justice frameworks and tenants of social work with macro perspectives in public health to more fully understand the systems in which we grow, live, and work. She is currently conducting research on the knowledge and attitudes of healthcare professionals about older adults and sexual health needs.

Staff of the Social Policy Institute were instrumental in crafting the initial concept of CEAL. The team continues to bring innovation to the field through policy building, program coordination and research evaluation.