Woodstock Institute President Dory Rand brings a wealth of community reinvestment knowledge and a proven ability to shape financial services policy to the challenge of promoting economic security and community prosperity for lower-wealth people.
“I’m interested in using lessons learned from behavioral economics to create public policies and financial products that foster a sound financial system and help everyone safely borrow, save and invest for long-term financial security,” says Dory. “I find my job fulfilling because Woodstock Institute’s work helps to close the wealth gap by increasing opportunities for lower-wealth households and communities of color to thrive and prosper.”
Dory joined Woodstock Institute after 12 years at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law in Chicago; most recently, she served as the supervising attorney of the Center’s Community Investment Unit.
Dory has long advocated for lower-wealth people on welfare law and public financial issues at the local, state, and national levels. She has published extensively, presented at many national conferences, and appeared in national and local media, including American Banker and the Chicago Tribune.
Meanwhile, she emphasizes the importance of collaborating with others on key issues. “I feel fortunate to work with the talented Woodstock team and colleagues around the country in creating innovative solutions to some of the most significant financial issues of our lifetime,” she says.
Dory received a B.A. and J.D. from The Ohio State University.
Recent posts by Dory Rand
On March 2 the Department of Labor published a proposed rule to delay for 60 days the implementation of its fiduciary rule. Woodstock has written frequently on this essential rule (see most recently our article on February 9, 2017), which requires investment advisors to put first the interests of customers rather than provide conflicted advice to make bigger commissions and profits for advisors. If the rule becomes effective, it will provide a crucial safeguard for the millions of Americans who put their trust in investment advisers as they save for retirement.
It has been a dizzying couple of weeks following the new administration’s series of actions and appointments that are likely to roll back protections for workers, retires, consumers, refugees, and others. Although Woodstock Institute is nonpartisan and has not published separate responses to each unfortunate action, appointment, tweet, and misstatement of facts, we have been working closely with allies across the country to demonstrate support for many of the well-researched policies that are under attack.
Over the last couple of years, as we have witnessed a growing number of bank mergers and acquisitions (M&As), federal bank regulators increasingly have issued conditional approvals that require banks to develop and implement Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) plans. The CRA is a federal law that encourages depository institutions insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), such as national banks and savings associations and state-chartered commercial and savings banks, to serve the financial and credit needs of all communities in which they are chartered, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) people and communities.
Leading up to and since the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) conference in March, Woodstock Institute has been part of the surge in work on, and interest in, small business lending and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) issues at local and national levels.
As I look at the current landscape in search of barriers to economic security and community prosperity and for opportunities to create effective solutions to those problems, I am excited about the year ahead and about using Woodstock Institute’s applied research, policy analysis, and coalition-building skills to reduce inequality and to increase equitable lending and investments in under served low- and moderate-income (LMI) areas and communities of color, help people and communities build and preserve wealth; and improve access to safe and affordable financial products, services, and systems.
Woodstock will continue to work at local, state, and national levels in 2016 in partnership with existing and new allies. While we will continue to provide extensive regional and Illinois data and technical assistance through our data portal and TA program, we will also use some of the lessons learned from our local data analysis and advocacy efforts to influence developments in other states and at the federal level. Here are some of the highlights of our 2016 policy agenda:
In June 2012, the Consumer financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched its Consumer Complaint Database, the nation’s largest public collection of consumer financial complaints. The CFPB’s Office of Consumer Response hears directly from consumers about the challenges they face in the marketplace, brings their concerns to the attention of companies, and assists in addressing their complaints. The information collected from those complaints has allowed the CFPB to take actions against financial institutions and put money back in consumers’ pockets. It’s vital that consumers continue to share complaints and stories as we work with the CFPB to create a just financial system for all.
2015 was a big year for Woodstock Institute and allies working to expand opportunities for workers to save for retirement and to receive unbiased investment advice. Please take action on two retirement issues described below.
This morning it was my honor to join United States Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Senator Daniel Biss, John Rogers of Ariel Investments, and others for a roundtable and press conference to announce the much anticipated proposed rule on retirement savings that will positively impact over a million Illinois private-sector workers. The proposed rule is open for public comments for 60 days.
Years ago, as a young married person contemplating starting a family and saving for my children’s college education, I engaged for the first time with a financial planning firm. I learned the hard way the difference between an advisor who earns commissions based on sales of insurance and investment products, and an advisor who works for fees only on a fiduciary basis and does not sell products or earn commissions (such as a fee-only Certified Financial Planner). My initial planner recommended that I invest in a particular 529 college savings plan, without telling me that the recommend plan paid the highest commissions, rather than in a 529 plan with lower costs and better opportunities to grow savings. While I eventually switched my college investments to a lower-cost 529 plan, many people remain stuck in less advantageous college investments because they received advice from advisors who are not acting under a fiduciary standard, which requires that the advisor put the investor’s interests first, not the interests of lining the advisor’s own pockets. Fiduciary standards are needed to protect consumers and help families save more for college.
It was very fitting that the Obama Administration and Department of Defense (DoD) released the final Military Lending Act (MLA) rules on the fifth anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank) and the fourth anniversary of the launch of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on July 21, 2015. The final MLA rules are a great example of how to conduct evidence-based policymaking to protect consumers from unfair and abusive financial products and practices.
We had a vibrant discussion in Chicago recently on barriers facing women trying to access mortgage and small business credit and ways to support women’s efforts to build wealth. Woodstock Institute and JPMorgan Chase hosted a forum for about one hundred participants from the nonprofit, banking, and government sectors on June 19. Melissa Bean, Midwest Chair for Chase, and I welcomed the group and kicked off the event.
Surrounded by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends, my son Joel graduated from college on May 16. He completed his bachelor’s degree in four years without taking on any student loans. There are many reasons why he was able to do that, including the fact that Joel grew up in a middle class household with parents who expected him to go to college and started saving for his college education at birth. Joel was also eligible for some merit-based scholarships and grants and worked each summer to earn some spending money. Joel understands that not every kid has such opportunities and he thanked everyone who helped him along the way.
One of our movement’s accomplishments of which I’m proudest is the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB has already dramatically improved the lives of millions of consumers, for example, through enacting and enforcing mortgage loan and servicing rules that protect homebuyers and homeowners in foreclosure, taking action against for-profit colleges that trap students in debt without providing quality education, and creating groundbreaking rules to protect consumers of products such as prepaid cards and payday loans. The CFPB has delivered over $5 billion in financial relief to over 15 million consumers who have been harmed by abusive and deceptive financial services. Consumers now have more information they can use to make sound financial decisions thanks to the CFPB’s efforts to improve disclosures for mortgages and student loans and expose consumers to financial education at critical points in their lives. Consumers in Illinois and across the country are getting a fairer shake because of the CFPB.
It’s that wonderful time of year. No, I’m not talking about dyeing the Chicago River green or March (hoops) Madness. It’s time for the annual National Community Reinvestment Coalition conference!
Having administered a large-scale financial education program and evaluation back in 2001-2003, I read with interest CFPB's recent "Financial well-being: The goal of financial education" report in preparation for the Consumer Advisory Board public meeting on February 19. I wasn't surprised that a key finding is that "factual knowledge in and of itself is not sufficient to drive behavior or behavior change." The authors astutely framed the discussion as being about not only financial knowledge, skills, and execution, but also about fostering an environment where people have the opportunity to develop and exercise those skills.
As we at Woodstock Institute remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, we also must reflect on how much still needs to be done to achieve his vision of a society where the family into which you are born and the color of your skin do not determine your destiny. At this time, it is fitting that we think about the ways in which our work on financial justice issues can help to reduce inequality of opportunity and outcomes for lower-wealth people and communities, and for people and communities of color.
On behalf of Woodstock Institute staff and our board of directors, I want to wish you Happy Holidays and thank you for your support over the last year. We had many accomplishments, but I’ll highlight just a few of them: