Susan Nero, PhD

Management Department, MA in Nonprofit Management


Core Faculty
(310) 578-1080 ext. 226

PhD in Human Systems Development, Graduate School of Management, University of California Los Angeles
BS in English and Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and began my higher education as an undergraduate student of literature and philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. After starting a graduate degree in English and teaching English in a private school in New York City, I moved to Los Angeles in 1970 and several years later entered doctoral studies in the Graduate School of Management at UCLA. I studied Human Systems Development, the application of social sciences to people in organizational settings. My doctoral dissertation was a study of how young women MBAs made decisions about having both careers and children.

I began my study of organizations while still in Milwaukee, when I worked at the University of Wisconsin, documenting relationships between the historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and mainstream colleges and universities. Later I was part of a team that researched the introduction of the experimental Women’s Health Care Practitioner role into the work structure of the Women’s Clinic at Harbor General Hospital.

From work as a researcher, I transitioned into the role of practitioner, first as a consultant at Hughes Aircraft, doing management development training. I was the first woman to be hired at Hughes in that capacity. Since then I have worked with scores of organizations in many sectors, including technology, banking, higher education, health care, government, retail, and consumer goods. My consulting practice includes work with individuals, teams, and larger systems. My focus been on the creative integration of individuals and systems. Much of my practice has been helping managers exercise more interpersonal courage and competence in their jobs as well as in the larger organization.

I have a special interest in the not for profit world and has consulted and volunteered with small and large not for profits, including environmental, educational, social advocacy, and health care organizations.  I have been on the Board of Directors of the Santa Monica Food Coop (Coopportunity) and served as its Vice President.

I began teaching at Antioch University in 1980, and have chaired the Graduate Management program intermittently since 1985. Working closely with Antioch University students, in the classroom and as an academic advisor, is the most gratifying aspect of my professional life. In recent years, I have especially enjoyed supervising the Capstone Projects. This work takes me out into the Los Angeles community, where I often work closely with the other professionals and organizations who support the student Capstone teams.

I am a professional member of the National Training Laboratories (NTL) and a trained mediator. Beyond my professional activities, I have a special love for foreign travel and cultures, world religions, art, and literature.  I am a meditator and a serious cook.

My interest is helping people and organizations develop.  My professional specialty is Organization Development (OD), which is the application of social science knowledge to promote productive change for people who share a common goal. I have had the good fortune to learn directly from many of the foundational people in OD. I work to design my courses so that there is both conceptual rigor and personal expression and experimentation.  The most rewarding aspect of teaching is seeing students try out new ideas and new behaviors and discover an expanded vision of themselves and the human systems where they work and live. I’ve been told that I run my classes like seminars. Everyone engages as we explore ideas together, bringing multiple perspectives to the conversation.  Also, I pay a lot of attention to what students write as well to what they say.  I believe that the act of writing helps us think more clearly and more critically and allows us to refine and polish our best ideas. Finally, I like to create variety and surprise in the classroom so that everyone feels more energy and excitement by the time the class session is over.

Distinguished Service Award
Antioch University Los Angeles, 1991, 1999

Commentary on “The Crucibles of Authentic Leadership,” p.252, in The Essential Bennis, Essays on Leadership by Warren Bennis, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 2009.

  • Planned Change and Organization Development (MGT 541)
  • The Capstone Experience  (MGT 598A)