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Rand Corp. to name Michael Rich president, chief executive

October 3, 2011 |  5:38 pm

Rand headquarters

Rand Corp. plans Tuesday to name Michael D. Rich, a longtime member of the think tank's senior leadership team, as its fifth president and chief executive.

A Los Angeles native, Rich, 58, will succeed James A. Thomson, who has headed the Santa Monica-based nonprofit research institution since 1989. Thomson announced in April that he would be stepping down.

Rich joined Rand as a summer associate in 1975 and became a staff member in 1976 after graduating from UCLA law school.

As the institute's executive vice president since 1993, Rich helped oversee Rand's domestic, national security and international research units and ventures. At the time, the organization was continuing efforts to grow and diversify in the aftermath of the Cold War, during which government-funded defense and aerospace research had been its bread-and-butter.

Rich, the unanimous choice of a search committee, helped direct the establishment of Rand's Middle East practice, including the Rand Qatar Policy Institute, which he co-chairs. He also guided the spin-off of the Council for Aid to Education, once a division of Rand, as a New York-based nonprofit that researches student outcomes and aid to education.

Karen Elliott House, vice chairwoman of Rand's Board of Trustees and the search committee, said Rich "has the ability and dedication to build upon a strong foundation and extend the reach and impact of Rand's work and people in the policymaking arena."

Rich came naturally by his interest in national policy and defense and aerospace. His late father, Ben R. Rich, was a Lockheed Aircraft Corp. engineer and manager who helped develop some of the most successful and advanced military aircraft produced in the United States. As head of Lockheed's fabled Skunk Works, he designed the F-117A, the Stealth fighter-bomber.


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-- Martha Groves

Photo: Interior courtyard of Rand Corp. building in Santa Monica. Photo: Benny Chan / Fotoworks