RAND headquarters on Main Street. (photo by Daniel Archuleta)

MAIN STREET — Santa Monica-based RAND Corp., a 60-year-old think tank that got its start as a government research and development unit, has selected a new leader.

Michael D. Rich, a member of RAND’s senior leadership team for two decades, was selected Tuesday as the president and chief executive officer of the non-profit. Rich becomes the fifth president and CEO of the non-partisan research institution. He assumes the role on Nov. 1.

He succeeds James A. Thomson, who has led RAND since 1989. He announced his decision to step down in April.

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.

“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.”

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 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 UCLA.


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