By: Paul Merrion July 21, 2008


Job: President of Woodstock Institute in Chicago, since July 16.

Vitals: 50 years old; bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies, Ohio State University, 1979; law degree, Ohio State University, 1982; staff attorney, American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, Chicago, 1983-85; associate, Mandel Lipton & Stevenson Ltd., Chicago, 1985-88; senior attorney, Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago, 1988-96; supervising attorney, Community Investment Unit, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Chicago, 1996-2008.

Strong suit: Familiar with the politics and legal aspects of consumer finance issues.

Résumé gap: First time heading a non-profit organization.

Track record: Lobbied Illinois Legislature for payday lender reform and to qualify financial education as a work requirement for welfare benefits. "She’s an unbelievably fierce advocate for asset-building opportunities for low-income consumers," says Jennifer Tescher, director of the Center for Financial Services Innovation, a non-profit affiliate of Chicago’s ShoreBank Corp. "She’s fearless and tough."

Job one: Create new policy ideas to get more low-income people to save money by using mainstream banks and credit unions instead of payday lenders.

Obstacle: "Part of it is inertia," Ms. Rand says. "Part of it is well-funded interest groups" that are "opposed to regulation that cuts into their profits sometimes."

The plan: Partner with the financial community to find solutions but be prepared to confront it, too. Sometimes, she says, "you have to bring more pressure to bear."