Michael D. Rich is president and chief executive officer of the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis. For more than 40 years, Rich has helped RAND become a leading source of expertise, analysis, and evidence-based ideas in an increasingly complex and polarized policymaking environment.
As president and CEO, Rich’s focus is on extending the impact of RAND’s work. He challenges the organization to broaden its legacy of innovation and strengthen the many ways RAND helps decisionmakers stay ahead of the curve on the issues that matter most. A champion of RAND’s commitment to help improve the quality of decision-making, Rich coauthored a 2018 report titled Truth Decay, the first in an ongoing series of research projects and publications that examines how the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life has caused an erosion of civil discourse and political paralysis, among other problems.
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In 2020, Rich spearheaded Tomorrow Demands Today, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in RAND’s history. Philanthropic support enables RAND researchers and students at the Pardee RAND Graduate School to bring bold thinking, analytical rigor, and cross-cutting perspectives to the most critical issues of our time, such as those presented by the COVID-19 crisis.
Rich became president and CEO of RAND in 2011. He began his RAND career as a summer intern in 1975, joining the organization full-time the following year as a researcher focused on U.S. national security issues. He has served in a variety of senior leadership positions at RAND and was instrumental in the creation of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center that provides research and analysis to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the Intelligence Community. He also helped lead RAND’s diversification and expansion into international markets—including Europe and Australia. Throughout his career, Rich has also been an enthusiastic supporter of Pardee RAND, the world’s largest public policy Ph.D. program, where he teaches and advises graduate students and has chaired numerous committees. Rich serves on the governing boards and advisory committees of many policy and service organizations, including the Council for Aid to Education, the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, WISE & Healthy Aging, the Everychild Foundation, Santa Monica–UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, and the UCLA Foundation. He is also a member of the U.S. Defense Science Board, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the California Bar. Rich received his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and his J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.