USC alumna Suzanne Nora Johnson, an internationally recognized leader who has served at the highest levels of major nonprofit and corporate organizations, has been elected chair of the USC Board of Trustees, effective immediately.
“Suzanne is a highly accomplished executive who brings a wealth of experience and insight to our board,” USC President Carol L. Folt said. “Over two decades of service as a USC trustee, she has proven to be a collaborative, strategic, insightful and ethical leader who is passionate about our community. I look forward to working with her to implement our ambitious goals for the future.”
Nora Johnson is the former vice chair of the Goldman Sachs Group, where she also served as chair of the Global Markets Institute and was a member of the firm’s management committee. She currently serves as board chair and chair of the Compensation Committee for Intuit Inc., and is chair of the Audit Committee at Pfizer Inc. She also serves on the boards of the Broad Foundation, the Brookings Institution (co-chair), America’s Frontier Fund and the Markle Foundation (chair). She previously served as co-chair of the Carnegie Institution for Science.
Leadership is a team sport.
Suzanne Nora Johnson, new USC trustee chair
“I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve as the next chair of the USC Board of Trustees. Leadership is a team sport, and I believe our work as a board and as a university will be strengthened by engagement with USC students, faculty and staff as well as members of the broader Los Angeles community,” Nora Johnson said. “As chair, I will be dedicated to unifying the Trojan Family to accomplish the ambitious goals set by President Folt.”
Nora Johnson succeeds Rick Caruso, who announced in February that he was stepping down as chair to run for mayor of Los Angeles. Her election follows a thorough process created by the board’s Nominating and Governance Committee.
“I am thrilled that the board has selected Suzanne Nora Johnson as its next chair,” Caruso said. “After all that we have been through and accomplished, it is bittersweet to step down as board chair of the institution I have been so proud to steer, though I do so passing the baton into the hands of one of the brightest and most principled executives in the country. Suzanne and I have been friends since we were classmates at USC and she is certain to have a deep impact guiding and leading USC into the future.”
New USC trustee chair an advocate for transformational leadership
During her more than two decades on the USC Board of Trustees, Nora Johnson has been an advocate for transformational leadership at the institution. She was a member of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee that led to the hiring of Folt, and she chaired search advisory committees that helped bring Chief Investment Officer Amy Diamond and athletic director Mike Bohn to USC. She also helped form, in partnership with Life Trustee Christopher Cox, the Special Committee on Governance Reform that introduced rigorous governance processes to the USC Board of Trustees.
In addition to her roles on various boards and committees, Nora Johnson is a member of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Foreign Policy Association. She has also been a chair and member of various Global Agenda Councils for the World Economic Forum. She was a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.
Nora Johnson’s colleagues on the USC Board of Trustees praised her thoughtful approach to complex issues, deep understanding of institutional governance, collaboration, high ethical standards, and unwavering commitment to USC’s role and mission.
“From the very beginning, our process was meant to identify and select the most qualified candidate to lead the board and partner with President Folt,” said Carmen Nava and Bill McMorrow, co-chairs of the board’s Nominating and Governance Committee. “Suzanne is an exemplary leader who knows USC backwards and forwards, with a tremendous history on the USC Board of Trustees and across the USC community. Her in-depth knowledge of the university, her accomplishments throughout her career, and her service on a variety of public, private and nonprofit boards make her uniquely qualified for this role. We look forward to working closely with Suzanne and President Folt to continue moving USC forward.”
New USC trustee chair: Focus on USC’s trajectory
Nora Johnson said she is energized by USC’s trajectory and momentum.
“The Trojan Family has no boundaries on its power to do good — not by geography, not by generation, not by school or discipline, and not by any other difference,” she said.
As part of that legacy, Nora Johnson expressed enthusiasm for the “moonshots” Folt outlined for the institution during her recent State of the University addresses. These include improving access, affordability and belonging while continuing to drive important advances in research, sustainability, computing and athletics.
Operating with a high degree of integrity and accountability has been a top priority for the Board of Trustees in recent years, and Nora Johnson pledged to work closely with the USC community to continue these efforts even as the Board supports Folt’s strategic priorities.
“I am very proud of USC’s heritage — the many gifts that we have received from those before us — and keenly aware that we are together creating USC’s legacy: the institution that we will leave for those who come after us,” Nora Johnson said. “I’m excited to listen and work with stakeholders across the community as we unite to move this great university forward.”
Nora Johnson earned her bachelor’s degree from USC in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in economics, philosophy/religion and political science in 1979, and received her JD from Harvard Law School. She joined the USC Board of Trustees in 1998.