October 4, 2011
Michael D. Rich, a member of the RAND Corporation's senior leadership team for two decades, has been selected president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit and nonpartisan research institution, according to Paul H. Kaminski, chairman of the RAND Board of Trustees.
Rich will become the fifth president and CEO of the Santa Monica, Calif.,-based research institution on Nov. 1, 2011. He succeeds James A. Thomson, who has led RAND since 1989 and announced his decision to step down in April 2011.
As the institution's executive vice president, Rich has worked closely with Thomson to oversee RAND's eight domestic and national security research units, its international research ventures, including the organization's RAND Europe subsidiary, the Pardee RAND Graduate School, and RAND's operations encompassing 11 offices, 1,700 associates and an annual budget of approximately $250 million.
Rich's selection by the Board of Trustees followed a search process led by Kaminski and a special committee of trustees, with the support of the executive search firm Spencer Stuart. The committee sought a leader with the experience and ability to recognize and advance quality analysis, as well as quality people, and the skills to engage with and lead the diverse set of stakeholders that contribute to RAND's public service mission.
"Michael Rich emerged from an exceptional group of candidates as the unanimous choice of our search committee," Kaminski said. "We were delighted, but not surprised, to meet many distinguished leaders in academia, government, business and the nonprofit research community who wanted the opportunity to lead RAND going forward. From that impressive group, Michael's deep understanding of RAND, his relationship-building skills and his vision for the future led us to conclude he is the best person to lead RAND going forward."
"I believe strongly in the proposition that rigorous and objective analysis leads to more effective policies," Rich said. "RAND has been dedicated to that proposition for over 60 years. I look forward to extending and strengthening that tradition in the years ahead."
Thomson praised the appointment: "My admiration for Michael Rich has been forged over many years working together," Thomson said. "No one has deeper knowledge of the institution and I have great respect for Michael's capacity to tackle the wide range of issues RAND contends with. I have total confidence in his ability to see ahead and step into the top spot."
"Through vision and hard work, RAND has come to work on an array of the world's most vexing challenges from global security to economic growth," said Karen Elliott House, vice chair of the RAND Board of Trustees and of the trustees' search committee. "The trustees are confident that Michael can build upon a strong foundation and harness RAND's enormous human talent to chart new directions for RAND."
Over the course of his career as a researcher, member of RAND's research leadership and the institution's second-ranking officer, Rich is credited with building and leading numerous programs and initiatives. With Thomson, Rich led the development and adoption of a new institutional strategy in 1995 that emphasized diversification and growth, and made sweeping changes to RAND's structure and operations. That plan led to growth across the institution, but particularly within its domestic research programs and international operations.
Rich took an active hand in establishing and growing RAND's thriving research and analysis practice in the Middle East, including the RAND Qatar Policy Institute, whose board of overseers he cochairs.
Rich also guided the successful spin-off of the Council for Aid to Education, the New York-based nonprofit that supports U.S. higher education institutions with research on student outcomes and giving to education, and which was once a division of RAND.
Rich led the effort to gain land use entitlements from the city of Santa Monica and the California Coastal Commission to build the RAND headquarters campus, which opened in 2005 and today houses 1,000 RAND associates. The project earned Gold LEED Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and the Urban Land Institute's award for excellence.
Rich is also active within the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's largest Ph.D. program in policy analysis, located at RAND's Santa Monica campus. Rich has taught and advised students as a member of the faculty, and chaired dissertation, qualifying exam and admissions committees.
Rich is a native of Los Angeles who joined RAND as a summer associate and then as a member of the institution's research team upon his graduation from the School of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Looking ahead to his new role, Rich said that he takes on leadership of an organization with the opportunity to have a major impact on decisionmaking in the United States and around the world.
"Jim Thomson set an ambitious course for RAND and leaves the organization greater in terms of its geographic and substantive scope, and the impact that RAND analysis has upon decisionmaking at all levels of government and in the private and philanthropic sectors," Rich said.
"We are grateful to Jim for his contributions to RAND," Kaminski added. "As chair of RAND's Board of Trustees I have watched Jim and Michael operate as an extraordinary team. They have great understanding of one another, and I expect the upcoming transition in leadership will benefit greatly from that relationship."