Recognized across America as an entrepreneur, 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 and hospitality companies in the United States.
Rick began his career as a real estate lawyer in the corporate finance division of one of the nation’s largest law firms. While he enjoyed practicing law, Rick soon resolved to pursue his lifelong passion for real estate development by establishing Caruso Affiliated Holdings in 1987. Eschewing the traditional approach to retail, he revolutionized the industry and led the innovative “placemaking” movement by developing mixed-use destinations that serve as timeless and beloved centers of town. Thirty years later, the Caruso portfolio spans retail, residential and hospitality, each property anchored by distinctive design, unmatched amenities and outstanding guest service.
Rick is known as, in the words of The Wall Street Journal, a “retail mastermind.” Under his visionary leadership, Caruso has seen a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 20 percent since its founding and has expanded its world-class portfolio to include more than a dozen award-winning mixed-use retail, residential and hospitality 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 the top 15 shopping centers around the world based on sales per square foot, which is 75% above the industry norm.
At the heart of Rick’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, Rick was tapped by Mayor Tom Bradley to serve as the youngest-ever commissioner of the L.A. Department of Water and Power. Following his success in this role, Mayor James Hahn then appointed Rick as Police Commissioner of the L.A. Police Department. In this volunteer role, Rick recruited William Bratton as Chief of Police, and together they saw the city’s crime rate drop to its lowest level since the 1950s.
Rick’s personal philosophy and philanthropic commitment have 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 focus on ensuring educational opportunities and quality health care for underserved youth. To that end, Rick endowed the USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine, as well as the USC Caruso Catholic Center, now one of the top five collegiate Catholic centers in the nation. Among the many nonprofit organizations that he supports, Rick 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.
Rick has received numerous awards and honors, including "Developer of the Year" and “2016 L.A. Icon” by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Additionally, he received 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, Rick was honored by Pope Francis who named him as a Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great for his service and generosity toward those in need.
Rick serves on the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of the University of Southern California, the Board of Councilors of Pepperdine School of Law and is Chair of the Board of Loyola High School. He also serves on the boards of The Irvine Company, St. John’s Hospital and the Ronald Regan Presidential Library Foundation.
Rick earned a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business and a Juris Doctorate degree as a Margaret Martin Block Scholar from Pepperdine School of Law.