Jorge Cherbosque, who served for nearly 40 years as a counselor and co-director of UCLA’s Staff and Faculty Counseling Center and was a leader in the area of psychology known as emotional intelligence, died Feb. 22 due to complications from a recent surgery. He was 68.

Over the course of his career at UCLA, Cherbosque, a clinical and industrial psychologist, advised countless individuals and groups and worked to create a safe and inviting space where UCLA employees from a wide variety of backgrounds felt welcome in seeking assistance to support their well-being.

Through his counseling, classes, support groups, books, speaking engagements and other efforts, both at UCLA and in the private sector, Cherbosque emphasized the importance of emotional intelligence skills — the capacity to understand and manage one’s emotional responses and to recognize the influence of one’s emotions on others. Cultivating those skills, he said, was crucial to developing effective and rewarding relationships not only at work but in all aspects of life, including at home and within families.

He was fond of saying that his goal was to get people and organizations to move from “TGIF” (Thank God It’s Friday) to “TGIH” (Thank God I’m Here), and that sense of positivity and joy pervaded Cherbosque’s professional and personal interactions.

Jorge’s welcoming warmth, genuine caring, generosity of spirit, curiosity, creativity and playfulness drew everyone to him. He was irresistible and enchanting,” said Nan Levine-Mann, director of the Staff and Faculty Counseling Center, who worked alongside Cherbosque for 38 years. “Pulsing through everything he did was a message of what it is to be human, and he modeled how to do it so well — with intention, grace, conviction, wisdom and love. Jorge leveraged his incredible talent and skills to improve the quality of people’s lives and the functioning of the organizations that he helped.”

Born in 1956 in Mexico City and raised there and in Acapulco, Cherbosque received his bachelor’s degree in social work from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and his master’s and doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Southern California.

He came to UCLA in 1986 as a counselor for the Staff and Faculty Counseling Center, and in 1997 was named the center’s co-director, with Levine-Mann. In helping to build the center’s team and in counseling members of the UCLA community over the years, Levine-Mann said, Cherbosque drew on a unique, wide-ranging blend of resources that included everything from his vast professional expertise and research findings to his own life experiences, Yiddish fables and inspirational quotes.

Dean Malilay, UCLA’s director of insurance and risk management at UCLA, recalled the comfort Cherbosque’s wisdom brought him after he lost both of his parents in a year-and-a-half span. In particular, he said, Cherbosque’s reminder that “life is not a dress rehearsal” continues to guide him prioritizing what is important in life.

“I’ll remember Jorge’s amazing ability to lift people up with simple words,” Malilay said. “He was the most humble, generous, kind and authentic person I’ve met. He is a role model for us on how to live your life and about what is important. I realize that his uplifting words, offered then, still serve to uplift all of us now.

“Jorge will always shine bright in our memories, as he brought joy and light into the lives of everyone he encountered, regardless of how challenging their situations might be,” said Lubbe Levin, UCLA’s associate vice chancellor for campus human resources. “As a teacher, mentor, colleague and friend to so many at UCLA, his legacy will have a lasting impact.” 

Jorge Cherbosque with hands raised in victory symbol
Courtesy of Cherbosque family
“I am a global, loyal family man who is trying to heal myself and others by bringing joy, connection, passion and empathy to the world.” –Jorge Cherbosque

In addition to his work at UCLA, Cherbosque maintained a thriving private practice as a both a psychotherapist and an organizational consultant and was frequently in demand as a speaker, trainer and advisor for nonprofit and corporate clients, including a variety of Fortune 500 companies. He was a long-standing trainer for the Young Presidents’ Organization, a well-known network of business executives.

Cherbosque outlined his approach to emotional intelligence both inside and outside the work setting in a series of books that included “Emotional Intelligence for Managing Results in a Diverse World: The Hard Truth About Soft Skills in the Workplace” and was the co-founder of the Emotional Intelligence and Diversity Institute and the Bashert Institute, the latter dedicated to educating people on how to build and maintain meaningful relationships.

His expertise and his passion, Cherbosque said, was providing the life skills necessary for each person to create a happy and successful life: vision, purpose, resilience, connection, empathy and gratitude. “I am,” he said, “a global, loyal family man who is trying to heal myself and others by bringing joy, connection, passion and empathy to the world.”

Cherbosque, who had retired from UCLA earlier this year, also taught courses at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and UCLA Extension.

“Jorge was a devoted public servant who positively impacted countless lives,” said Anthony Solana, UCLA’s director of employee and labor relations. “Knowing him was an incredible blessing, and my life is forever enriched because of his wisdom, teaching, empathy and compassion. He made an indelible mark on UCLA, and his legacy lives with all of us.”

Cherbosque is survived by his brother, José; his sister, Bonnie; his daughters, Carina and Tiana; and his fiancée, Sarah.