For First Time, Black Heads AARP

Published March 25, 2009

AARP, the humongous voice for people over the age of 50, has chosen an African American to run it for the first time in its half-century history.

A. Barry Rand, 64, is the new CEO of the 40-milliion-member advocacy group and will take the helm beginning next month. He succeeds William D. Novelli, who ran the non-governmental agency for the past eight years.

During his more than 30 years at Xerox Corp., Rand rose from a sales rep. to executive vice president for worldwide operations. Among his accomplishments there, he helped recruit and retain women and people of color, making the organization the most diverse among Fortune 500 companies.

Ten years ago, when Rand left Xerox – after being snubbed as the firm’s CEO – he took the reins of Avis Group Holdings, Inc., the parent company of Avis Car Rental, a position he held for two years. He then assumed the chairmanship of Equitant, Ltd., an Irish company from 2003 to 2005, until IBM took it over.

The Washington, D.C., native is the son of a postal clerk father and elementary school principal, and he earned a bachelor’s from American University and an MBA from Stanford University. A self-described “son of the 60s,” he says the Civil Rights Movement helped shape who he is today.

“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.”

Written by BET.com Staff

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