A. Barry Rand assuming leadership of AARP

By A. James Memmott

March 22, 2009 at 8:12am

AARP, a growing political force as baby boomers age, will be led by an African-American for the first time.

A. Barry Rand, 64, becomes the CEO of the 40-milliion-member advocacy group for people 50 years and older next month.

Rand worked at Xerox Corp. for 31 years, starting as a sales representative and finishing as executive vice president for worldwide operations.

A. Barry Rand
A. Barry Rand

At Xerox, Rand led efforts to recruit and retain minorities and women that made the company the most diverse amongst Fortune 500 companies.

Rand left Xerox in 1999 when he was passed over to become the company’s CEO.

He then became CEO of Avis Group Holdings Inc., the parent company of Avis Car Rental. He left Avis in 2001 after it was acquired by Cendant Corp.

Rand was chairman and CEO of Equitant, Ltd., an Irish company, from 2003 to 2005 until IBM acquired it.

A native of Washington, D.C., where his father was a postal clerk and his mother an elementary school principal, Rand graduated from American University and went on to receive an MBA from Stanford University.

He has served on several corporate boards and he’s the chairman of the board of Howard University in Washington, an historically African-American school.

He has endowed the Helen Matthews Rand Scholarship at Howard in honor of his mother. The scholarship provides full tuition and a laptop to students who hope to become teachers. Scholarship recipients must commit to teaching at least two years in an urban setting.

Rand described himself to USA Today as a “son of the 60s,” someone who was transformed by the struggle for civil rights.

Washington was racially segregated when he was a youth.

“I lived literally 30 seconds from a school, but I couldn’t go to that school,” he told USA Today. “That helps you develop, on a personal level, the issue of are you included or are you not.”

He also brings to his new post at AARP lessons learned from providing care for his father during the last eight years of his life.

Rand called the experience “eye-opening.”

“Caring for him brought home for me the simple truth that access to low-cost, high-quality health care and financial security are prerequisites for achieving the American Dream,” he was quoted as saying in an AARP release.

Rand begins at AARP on April 6. He succeeds William D. Novelli, who served as CEO for eight years.

A former public relations executive, Novelli doubled AARP’s budget and increasing its membership by 5 million during his tenure with the group.

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  • #1.   Lee 07.23.2009

    After reading Rand’s Bio it is not a surprise that AARP is endorsing the president’s plan.

  • #2.   Tilden Smith 12.24.2010

    How can AARP claim to be nonpartisan?

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