Thursday, January 15, 2009

Desiree Rogers: What the Obama Social Secretary Will Do

Interesting article in the upcoming Vogue of the White House Social Secretary, Desiree Rogers. Rogers is a known quantity here in the Chicagoland area, a graduate of Wellesley College, MBA from Harvard Business School, formerly CEO of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, Director of the Illinois State Lottery, last position with Allstate Financial as Director of its newly found social networking initiative. Rogers was married to the former John W. Rogers, Jr., both are close friends to the Obamas.

I think one reason besides friendship to the Obamas that Rogers was given this coveted position is her known flair as a flawless entertainer.

Rogers's appointment, in late November, did not come as a surprise to anyone in the Obama inner circle, including Valerie Jarrett, one of her best friends and a senior adviser to the new president. Days before the announcement, Rogers had hosted a small birthday party for Jarrett in Chicago attended by Barack and Michelle Obama, who rejoiced in being able to spend some downtime with a few of their closest pals, including Rogers, after the campaign's long haul. "My party was perfect," Jarrett told The Washington Post later, adding that Rogers "has extraordinary flair and exquisite taste."

Rogers also understands the platform of what the Obamas want to do for the social scene in Washington, D.C. This is not only about dinners, parties but outreach to the D.C. community, one that the Obamas plan to become a part of.
The mandate the Obamas have given her, Rogers said, "is about instilling pride." Her job "is helping people visualize what the Obama presidency is about, the feelings Americans voted for—inclusion, transparency, embracing people you might never otherwise learn about—and also translating the splendor, that sweetness, that comfort of the White House to everyone." She paused and smiled. "Enormous task."

Indeed, in these troubled economic times, how exactly will the Obamas revitalize the White House? "Using the assets already there," Rogers said. "We have to be balanced. People think that being 'social' means hosting a lavish party, but that's not true. We all thrive on social interaction, and we must continue to," despite the economy.

Rogers job is to help Michelle make her job as First Lady, a bit easier. Many are wondering, curious about the new First Lady's vision and I think Rogers and Michelle get it. It is about moving forward, with your directive but remembering the past and working it in. Tall order.
"There is a history and tradition to these events," said Rogers—the Christmas-tree lighting, for example, and the Easter-egg hunt. "Yes, we are about change and about finding a new way, but 'new' doesn't mean that we walk away from history."

Read more, here.

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