USC Price School of Public Policy

Deborah J. Natoli

Associate Professor (Teaching)
Director, Professional Doctorate Program

Ralph and Goldy Lewis Hall, 202
Los Angeles, CA 90089

Phone: (213) 740-8584

Ph.D. in Education

Saint Louis University


Adult development and learning, leadership, human behavior and organizations, depth psychology and psychoanalysis

Biographical sketch

Deborah Natoli, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor (Teaching) and director of the professional doctorate program at the USC Price School of Public Policy. She teaches human behavior in organizations, research methods, science as detective work, teaching methods.

Deborah worked for ten years as a public high school social studies teacher with special assignment to support the success of students from underprivileged communities. She returned to the university for a master’s degree in school counseling where the Dean of the Graduate School immediately offered her a position as his graduate assistant to design and implement a Future Faculty Program for teaching assistants across all schools and colleges to enhance the quality of undergraduate instruction and prepare TA’s for the professorate. Deborah became the founding director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching at Saint Louis University.

Returning to the K-12 sector, Deborah worked as an independent school psychotherapist and teacher, directing curriculum oversight and designing an innovative faculty development and evaluation program with teachers and for teachers. Her theory and model for teacher evaluation, with focus on teacher personal and professional growth, gained her opportunity for post-doc study with Robert Kegan at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she connected with Brookline and Newton Public Schools to work with teachers and advance her research.

Dr. Natoli came to USC in 2006 as the Director of Faculty Development for the Marshall School of Business where she secured grant funding, piloted her model for in-depth faculty development, and earned the Dean’s Award after one year for enhancing the quality of instruction and raising student ratings of teaching scores. Warren Bennis then inspired Deborah to reframe her model for teacher development and conceptualize a theory for leadership development.

Deborah began conducting autobiographical interviews with people from all walks of life – teachers and university professors, medical researchers, artists, scientists, actors, politicians, museum curators, even Dr. Maya Angelou – and through collecting personal stories and lived realities, Deborah envisioned a theory and framework for leadership grounded in psychodynamic, depth psychology, and neuroscience principles.

Professor Natoli has offered presentations from Madrid to Brazil, consults with organizations like Tacori, contributes to the Huffington Post, and is working on a book, How Leaders Think. Deborah serves on the Board of Directors for the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics at the USC Gould School of Law and is a faculty fellow for the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation and the Bedrosian Center on Governance and the Public Enterprise. She is a member of the Mindful USC Steering Committee and a training candidate at the Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles, elected to serve on the Board of Directors 2018 – 2019.