Carol S. Pearson: My Biography

I am an author, speaker, workshop leader, and educator in private practice, best known as an expert on the applications of myth, archetypes, and narrative to contemporary life and work. I also serve as a thinking partner for leaders and leadership teams applying my work to their organizations and their professional roles.

My interest in these subjects and activities arose out of my personal background. As a young person, I had a good start in life. Although my family was financially strapped, my parents were loving and generous people who embodied lives of integrity and goodness. Perhaps for this reason, I often felt bewildered about the world around me, inwardly pondering questions like: Why do people do the things they do? Why can’t we all get along? Why do countries get into unnecessary wars when they could work things out? Why can’t our politicians stop attacking each other and address the problems of the country? Beyond this, I worried about how I could be myself, make a difference in the world, and still earn a good living. Each of these questions presented themselves as a mystery to be solved.

This website shares with you what I have figured out over time, and how I slowly learned to feel less confused about life.

I’ve recently completed a new book that I’m very excited about, and I believe it is the most important one I’ve written yet. It is framed primarily for a female audience, but it also should be very valuable to any man who is not afraid to show feminine as well as masculine qualities, and who lives or works in partnership with a woman or with many women. It is called

Earlier in my career, I began writing books to support the heroic journey of individuals. The two most popular are

The Hero Within has been a bestselling book, with over a quarter million copies sold. I frequently hear from readers whose lives have been enriched by it, and many buy multiple copies to give to others they know who are graduating from high school, college, or a stage of life and need to gain a toehold for the next phase of their journeys. They often go on to read Awakening the Heroes Within, which provides greater depth on the same subject.

To further this work, I co-authored a tested psychometric instrument, The Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator®, which is designed to help individuals discover the archetypes that are most active in their lives. You can arrange to take it by clicking on “Discover Your Archetypes” anyplace in this website.

I shifted to writing about leadership and organizational dynamics when I began to be drafted into leadership positions and asked to consult for a variety of organizations. This led me to study everything I could on how to lead, on organizational behavior and development, and on the larger cultural context of countries and regions. My background includes a substantial history as a higher education administrator and faculty member, most recently as Executive Vice President/Provost and then President of Pacifica Graduate Institute. Previously, I was Professor of Leadership Studies in the School of Public Policy and Director of the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland. During my tenure there, the Academy was the incubator of the International Leadership Association (ILA), and I was privileged to be a member of ILA’s Board of Directors.

Earlier in my career, I served as the director of two major women’s studies programs and the academic dean of a women’s college. As an American Council on Education Fellow in Academic Administration and later, in collaboration with ACE’s Office on Women, I helped construct guidelines for how colleges and universities could better serve the needs of women administrators, faculty, and students. I also directed a certificate program in transformational leadership at Georgetown University and was president of Meristem, a nonprofit consulting organization.

Based on what I studied and experienced in such roles, I developed an assessment instrument that identifies the active archetypes in organizational cultures (the IBM-Kenexa Cultural Insight™ survey) and wrote several books, including

I’m thankful that over my life I have gained answers to so many of my questions, and that I had access to high quality educational experiences that prepared me to do this work. I received my Ph.D. in English from Rice University and a Doctorate of Ministry from Wisdom University, supplemented by post-graduate trainings in depth psychology, psychological type, and active imagination and creativity, as well as many workshops and trainings in leadership and organizational dynamics and personal enrichment experiences in body awareness and dance.