Recognized as a leading business innovator, civic leader and philanthropist, Rick J. Caruso is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Caruso®, one of the largest and most admired privately held real estate companies in the United States.
Under Caruso’s leadership, the company has seen a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 20% since inception, with its world-class portfolio expanding to include more than a dozen internationally renowned, award-winning retail, residential, mixed-use and hotel properties. As cited by Green Street Advisors, Caruso® properties consistently outperform traditional shopping destinations based on sales per square foot and productivity, including The Grove, which ranks #2 on Fortune’s 10 highest sales-generating shopping centers in the country. Additionally, Caruso® is the only development company to have two of its properties featured on Shopping Center Today's list of top 15 shopping centers around the world, based on sales per square foot, which is 75% above the industry norm.
Caruso started his career as a real-estate lawyer in the corporate finance department of one of the nation’s largest law firms. Thereafter, he pursed his lifelong passion for development and transitioned from law in 1987 to establish Caruso Affiliated Holdings. Eschewing the traditional “shopping mall” approach to retail, he revolutionized the industry with peerlessly imaginative retail and mixed-use destinations that serve as timeless and beloved centers of town.
At the heart of Caruso’s award-winning development approach is a unique understanding of civic responsibility and fierce loyalty to surrounding communities—the result of decades of hands-on experience with public service. Early in his career, he served as the youngest Commissioner in the city’s history when Mayor Tom Bradley appointed him Commissioner for the L.A. Department of Water and Power. Following this success, Mayor James Hahn selected him as President of the L.A. Police Commission, where he recruited William Bratton as Chief of Police, and together they reduced crime to historic low levels.
However, it is Caruso’s deeply held personal philosophy and philanthropic commitment to giving back that has solidified his reputation as a compassionate member of the community. In 1991 he founded the Caruso Family Foundation, dedicated to supporting organizations that improve the lives of at-risk children in Los Angeles, with a special focus on healthcare and education. He endowed the USC Caruso Catholic Center as well as the Caruso Department of Otolaryngology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Among the many other nonprofit organizations that he supports, Caruso is actively involved with Operation Progress, Para Los Niños, St. Lawrence of Brindisi School and Verbum Dei High School, all located in Watts.
Caruso, who was named a “retail mastermind” by The Wall Street Journal, has received numerous awards and honors, including "Developer of the Year" and “2016 L.A. Icon” by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Additionally, he was honored with the "True Blue" award from the Los Angeles Police Foundation, recognizing him as a leader dedicated to positive change through philanthropic, business and civic leadership. Most recently, Caruso was honored by Pope Francis with the rank of Commander in the Order of St. Gregory the Great for his service and generosity to so many in need.
Caruso serves on the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of the University of Southern California, and is the Chair of the Board of Loyola High School. He also serves on the Board of Councilors of Pepperdine School of Law, and is on the Boards for The Irvine Company, St. John’s Hospital, and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business and a Juris Doctorate as a Margaret Martin Block Scholar from Pepperdine School of Law.