Heather Maiirhe Caruso (HEH-thur MY-ee-ray kah-ROO-soh) joined UCLA Anderson in 2018, and now serves as a faculty member, associate dean for equity, diversity, and inclusion, and faculty co-director of the Inclusive Ethics Initiative. In 2022, she also became the inaugural Chair of the UCLA Council of Equity Advisors. A scholar and researcher of organizational behavior, she teaches in the Management and Organizations and Behavioral Decision Making areas.
Caruso’s passion for facilitating inclusive success runs deep in her life and work. “My formal interests in organizational and social psychology developed when I was an undergraduate at Stanford doing cross-cultural negotiation research with Jared Curhan and Lee Ross,” she says. These interests deepened during her years as an engineer and executive in a multinational Silicon Valley startup. “I was fascinated with the real-world experiences stemming from differences in cultural identity. Interpersonal problems could derail even the most talented individual performers, and effective collaboration skills could not only prevent such problems, but raise individual contributions to new heights.”
Layering rigorous academic training on top of practical experience, Caruso focuses her research, teaching, and academic administration at UCLA on the contributions of equity, diversity, and inclusion to individual and societal well-being. All of these efforts aim to surface the organizational, social, and psychological factors that maximize positive experiences.
“In expanding upon the outstanding behavioral research conducted in these areas, we are building bridges between science and practice to help people encounter differences in more effective and enjoyable ways.”
Caruso stays connected to the everyday priorities and challenges of the workplace by consulting for private- and public-sector organizations on the practice of inclusive leadership, communication, and collaboration. She has also launched a partnership with Chicago’s famed Second City enterprise to develop inclusive skill development workshops at the intersection of behavioral science and improvisational practice.
On a mission to help people realize their potential through higher education, Caruso is a strong proponent of lifelong learning for management excellence, and encourages students to make the most of their professors’ knowledge, not only while they are pursuing their degrees, but also throughout their careers. “As a preeminent public university, UCLA has a a distinctive opportunity to advance equity, diversity and inclusion,” she says. “It is an honor to help UCLA Anderson seize that opportunity by creating the kind of challenging and rewarding educational climate that can benefit leaders from every walk of life.”
Ph.D. Organizational Behavior – Social Psychology, 2008, Harvard University
A.M. Social Psychology, 2006, Harvard University
B.A. Psychology, 1999, Stanford University