Ran Coble is President Emeritus of the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.
A native of Graham, North Carolina, Ran Coble graduated in 1971 from Davidson College. He also earned a master’s degree in public policy from Duke and a law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. He was president of the student body both at Davidson and in law school.
In 1972, he served as one of the first staff for the Fiscal Research Division of the North Carolina General Assembly. He also spent four years as legal counsel to the Secretary of what is now the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. In that role, he was assigned to explain and guide 54 pieces of legislation through the General Assembly and was successful in securing passage of 51 of these bills.
In 1990, Ran was named a Kellogg Foundation National Fellow, a three-year leadership development program that includes pursuing an individual learning plan. He interviewed leaders he admires, such as the late John Gardner and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias and traveled to emerging democracies around the world such as Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Armenia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Turkey. He has had articles published in “Nonprofit Management and Leadership,” the “Wake Forest Law Review,” the Raleigh “News and Observer,” and “North Carolina Insight” magazine, as well as poetry in the Kellogg Foundation’s Focus publication. In 2001, he was named an Eisenhower Fellow and traveled to Argentina and Chile to study innovative programs in citizen involvement and civic education.
From 1981 to 2014, Ran served as Executive Director of the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan corporation dedicated to strengthening public policy through nonpartisan research, education, and community engagement. Founded in 1977, the Center provides nonpartisan research, evaluation, and analysis on the most important public policy issues facing North Carolina, serving as a think tank, watchdog, and futurist.
Under Ran’s leadership, the Center’s research and testimony before policymakers helped achieve many changes in public policy, including:
- Creation of special funds to help low-wealth and small public school districts;
- Reductions in high school dropout rates seven years in a row;
- Evaluation of teaching performance in the public university system and creation of awards for teaching excellence;
- Legislation to require statewide recycling;
- Creation of a commission to make the best use of available prison space by keeping repeat and violent offenders in prison longer while using alternatives to incarceration for lesser offenders;
- Public ownership of the N.C. Railroad, which paved the way for future mass transit between Charlotte and Raleigh; and
- Legislation to prevent, report, and prosecute fraud committed against the elderly.
The Center has been highlighted in Responsive Philanthropy magazine and was featured in a “Profiles of Excellence” series in Nonprofit World magazine.
In 2006-2008, Ran served as President of the national Governmental Research Association, comprised of 33 policy organizations in 22 states. For 10 consecutive years, the Center won GRA awards for distinguished research, educating the public, and achieving changes in public policy. In 2014, he was awarded the GRA’s Gruenberg Award for lifetime achievement.
Now retired, Ran is writing a book about the key roles served by nonprofits in new democracies around the world. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the NCGlaxoSmithKline Foundation, and he mentors law students who are interested in careers in nonprofits or public service.