Our Team

At Caruso, we strive to be best in class at everything we do. Behind our properties stands a dedicated and accomplished team of the industry’s brightest visionaries who share a strong vision and passion for creating and operating beloved spaces.

Founder and CEO

Rick Caruso

A renowned business innovator, dedicated civic leader and actively-involved 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 achieved a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 20% since its inception. Its world-class portfolio of properties continues to expand and include more than a dozen internationally renowned and award-winning retail, residential, mixed-use and soon, a resort hotel destination. As cited by Green Street Advisors, Caruso properties consistently outperform traditional shopping destinations based on productivity and sales per square foot, with results three times higher than the industry average. Its flagship property, The Grove was ranked #2 on Fortune’s list of the 10 highest sales-generating shopping centers in the country. Additionally, Caruso is the only development company to have two of its properties ranked on Shopping Center Today’s list of the top 15 shopping centers in the world, based on sales per square foot.

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 transitioned from law to pursue his lifelong passion for development, establishing Caruso Affiliated Holdings in 1987. Ignoring the traditional “shopping mall” approach to retail, he adopted a fresh, new strategy for development and revolutionized the industry with 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 deep respect and understanding of civic responsibility and a fierce loyalty to surrounding communities—the result of decades of hands-on experience in 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. In that role, he brought a 25-year-old lawsuit to resolution that provided more clean water to Los Angeles while protecting the environment. Following this success, Caruso was selected as President of the L.A. Police Commission where he led the effort to overhaul the Los Angeles Police Department and recruited William Bratton as Chief of Police. Together, they reduced the city’s crime rate to the lowest levels in 50 years.

Caruso’s deeply held personal philosophy and commitment to giving back have further solidified his reputation as a compassionate member of the community. In 1991, he and his wife Tina, founded the Caruso Family Foundation, dedicated to supporting organizations that improve the lives of at-risk children in need of healthcare and education. Among the many 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 focused on the historically underserved area of Watts, Los Angeles.

Caruso, a long-serving member of the USC community, also endowed the USC Caruso Department of Otolaryngology at the Keck School of Medicine and the USC Catholic Center, which provides spiritual connection for faculty and students of all faiths. 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. 

Caruso, who was named a “retail mastermind” by The Wall Street Journal, has received numerous awards and distinctions for both his professional and philanthropic work, 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. He was also 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. In 2017, Caruso was presented the Asa V. Call Award, the most distinguished alumni honor at USC. Recently, he was named by Town and Country magazine as one of the top 50 philanthropists in the nation.

Caruso was elected as Chair of the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of the University of Southern California. He also serves as the Chair of the Board of Loyola High School, and is on the Board of Advisors of Pepperdine School of Law, and on the Boards for The Irvine Company, St. John’s Hospital, and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library Foundation.

Read More
Read Less

Executive Team

Ben Howell

Executive Vice President, General Counsel

Ben Howell oversees Caruso’s legal affairs with an emphasis on the company’s business and real estate transactions. Howell represents Caruso, and supervises its outside counsel in the company’s acquisition, development and financing transactions. Since joining the company, Howell has led Caruso’s legal team in closing over $1 billion in financing transactions, from real-estate-secured permanent and construction loans to the company’s corporate credit facility. Howell also provides legal advice to all of the company’s business units, and collaborates with in-house and outside counsel on litigation and land-use matters.

Prior to joining Caruso, Howell was an attorney at Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP, consistently ranked as one of the top-ten law firms in the nation by American Lawyer magazine’s “A-List.” Howell’s private practice focused on real estate and corporate transactions for a wide range of clients—from representing private-equity funds in the formation of targeted real estate investment platforms to advising a publicly traded hotel and casino company in connection with a multi-billion-dollar joint-venture development in Las Vegas.

Howell graduated from the UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) where he was named Order of the Coif (top 10% of graduating class), and was a member of the Law Review. After law school Howell served as a law clerk to Hon. Harold Baer, Jr., managing one-half of the docket of a judge in the Southern District of New York, the largest and highest-profile federal trial court in the country. Prior to attending law school Howell graduated from Stanford University, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree with honors in Modern Thought and Literature.

Howell is a member of the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Real Property Section, and is on the board of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, where he has been instrumental in facilitating transactions to redevelop unused and underutilized sites into neighborhood-serving community parks and gardens.

Read More
Read Less

Jackie Levy

Executive Vice President, Operations

As Executive Vice President of Operations, Jackie Levy is responsible for the operations and financial performance of the company’s multi-billion-dollar portfolio of award-winning properties. Under Levy’s leadership, Caruso’s operating portfolio has achieved approximately 20% cumulative NOI growth year over year.

Levy began his career in the shopping center industry as a marketing coordinator for Westfield West Covina and was later promoted to marketing director for Westfield Fox Hills and Century City properties.

Following a successful five years with Westfield, Levy joined Caruso serving as the General Manager of The Grove and The Americana at Brand. He later served as Vice President of Operations and Senior Vice President of Operations before assuming his current role as Executive Vice President of Operations in June 2013. With Levy’s oversight, The Grove and The Americana at Brand have achieved the distinction of being ranked amongst the top ten highest sales-performing shopping centers in the world, while 8500 Burton Way has realized record rents in the Los Angeles market. Levy also was integral in expanding the company’s asset base to include class-A innovative office space, reimagining the office experience for its Fortune 300 tenant, CBRE.

Levy graduated top of his class from San Diego State University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications.

Read More
Read Less

Kelly Masuda

Chief Investment Officer

As Chief Investment Officer, Kelly Masuda is responsible for all investment matters, including designing and implementing strategies for the company’s broadly diversified portfolio of equities, fixed income and alternatives, and managing all aspects of its property-level and corporate-level financings, including construction loans, permanent financings and revolving credit facilities. Masuda also serves as Chairman of the Investment Committee, which reviews all acquisition and development opportunities, and leads the company’s strategic planning process.

Prior to joining Caruso, Masuda was Senior Vice President, Treasurer at KB Home, one of the largest homebuilders in the United States. For seven years, he was responsible for corporate-wide banking and financing activities, including bank facilities, capital market transactions and project financings in addition to managing investor relations activities. Prior to KB Home, Masuda spent nearly a decade in the investment banking industry with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corporation and Credit Suisse First Boston Corporation, where he focused on mergers and acquisitions, and corporate finance activities in the real estate, gaming and lodging industries.

Masuda serves on the Board of Trustees of the Children’s Bureau of Southern California, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree with high honors in neurobiology from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MBA with honors from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.

Read More
Read Less

Thomas Veje

Executive Vice President, Construction

Thomas Veje is responsible for the direct oversight and coordination of all construction department-related activities for Caruso. From inception to closeout, Veje prepares and distributes all project-related budgets and schedules, while issuing and managing all contracts related to construction management, design, and engineering production drawings. Other key responsibilities include supervision of tenant coordination, engineering, cost control, schedule adherence and quality assurance.

Known throughout the industry as a strong team leader, Veje is a results-driven manager and savvy builder of projects. All of the projects that Veje has been responsible for have won numerous prestigious design and construction awards including ICSC Global Best of the Best, ULI Global Award for Excellence, and ENR Best Project.

His impressive resume includes all construction types and uses, ranging from Type I high-rise commercial and Type II & III retail to Type V residential. Under his guidance, the team has consistently executed the Caruso promise to deliver the highest-quality product to customers through an acute attention to detail, adherence to budgets and strict enforcement of final delivery timelines, delivering sustainable and operationally outstanding projects.

Due to his vast wealth of knowledge and myriad accolades, Veje has been a speaker at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering as well as the ICSC CenterBuild Conference. He graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in civil engineering.

Read More
Read Less

Corinne Verdery

Executive Vice President, Development

As Executive Vice President, Development, Corinne Verdery oversees Caruso’s entitlements, community relations, design and construction, focusing on doubling the size of the company and its offerings in Southern California.

Verdery joins Caruso from NBCUniversal, where she was most recently the Chief Real Estate Development Officer. In that position, she was responsible for overseeing the 25-year $1.6 billion NBCUniversal Evolution Plan, a vital component to the company’s overall long-term success. Prior to that role, Verdery held various executive positions within the company for well over a decade, including VP of Real Estate, where she planned and built projects—ranging from hotels to theme parks—in major cities worldwide.

Verdery was also SVP of Oasis West Realty, where she successfully spearheaded the development and entitlement process of The Beverly Hilton and a new five-star Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Beverly Hills, which included the passage of a citywide ballot, and involved 19 public hearings and a voter referendum.

She graduated cum laude from USC School of Architecture and magna cum laude from Pepperdine University Graziadio School business.

Read More
Read Less

Peter Wilhelm

Chief Financial Officer

As Chief Financial Officer of Caruso, Peter Wilhelm oversees all aspects of the company’s financial, tax, and accounting operations.

Before joining Caruso, Wilhelm was the Founder & CEO of the consulting firm Novita Ventures. Prior to that, he was a Senior Managing Director at McCourt Global, managing enterprise-wide operations, leading acquisitions and integration, and serving as Senior Strategist for real estate investments and mixed-use developments in Los Angeles, New York, Austin, Miami, and London.

Previously, Wilhelm served as Chief Financial Officer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he played an integral role in the 2004 purchase of the Dodgers. From 2004 to 2012, he was part of the critical team responsible for doubling revenue; improving EBITDA by more than $80 million, and completing $150 million in renovations to Dodger Stadium, which resulted in the highest sales price ever achieved for a sports franchise in 2012.

Wilhelm launched his career as a Senior Analyst in mergers and acquisitions for GMAC, as a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., and later as Vice President of MZ Sports, where he advised on $2.3 billion in sports franchise acquisitions in all four major sport leagues, including the Washington Nationals, Cleveland Cavaliers, Anaheim Ducks, Seattle Supersonics, and Georgia Force.

Originally from Detroit, Wilhelm received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Cornell University and earned his MBA in Finance and Operations from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.

Read More
Read Less

Dave Williams

Executive Vice President, Architecture

Dave Williams has been the principal force in designing and creating the unique ambience and close attention to high-quality detail that has become synonymous with Caruso properties. His signature "Caruso-style" designs have garnered national acclaim as being the country’s most innovative and successful across many project types including retail, mixed-use, Class-A innovative office, residential and hospitality.

Under Williams’ direction, several of Caruso’s properties, including The Grove, The Americana at Brand, The Commons at Calabasas and The Promenade at Westlake, have been awarded the industry’s highest honors, such as Gold Nugget Awards, ICSC’s International Design and Development Awards, and the Urban Land Institute’s Award for Excellence.

Williams has assembled and led a renowned team of highly talented designers, firms and artisans for all aspects of Caruso developments. He has a proven ability to achieve excellence through great vision, intelligent decision-making, remarkable attention to detail, and an unparalleled commitment to the guest experience and the surrounding communities.

A registered architect, Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from The Ohio State University. He has nearly 30 years of experience in urban, resort, residential and retail/entertainment design and planning.

Respected throughout the industry for his wealth of experience and expertise, Williams has been a panelist and speaker at the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, the Urban Land Institute, the International Council of Shopping Centers, The Ohio State University School of Architecture and many more high-profile speaking engagements.

Read More
Read Less