Unless you live under a rock, you probably know of Chicago power-broker, socialite and personal friend of the Obamas, Desiree Rogers. Before she filled the role as White House Social Secretary, Rogers was already a very accomplished woman with a more-than-impressive resume. Now she can add her new role as CEO of Johnson Publishing Co. to the list.
One year after leaving her job as White House social secretary, Desiree Rogers is back on the party-hosting circuit, this time with a new agenda.
White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers poses for portrait in the Green Room of the White House in Washington D.C., March 4, 2009.
Rogers in August was named chief executive officer of Johnson Publishing Co., owner of Ebony and Jet magazines and Fashion Fair cosmetics. As the new public face of the brands, the New Orleans native has been hosting cocktail receptions, dinner parties and events in New York, Chicago and, this week, here, clinking glasses and creating buzz for the magazines and for a new Ebony Fashion Fair retrospective clothing exhibit at Macy’s stores.
“Who knew my time at the White House would prepare me to take on this role?” said Rogers, who left Washington last February with a track record filled with both successes (the much-praised White House music series) and scandals (wannabe reality TV stars crashing a state dinner).
On the phone one recent afternoon from Johnson headquarters in snowed-in Chicago, Rogers called her new position a “perfect fit.”
“I enjoy business and the creative process involved in the magazines and, of course, the social aspect. And I’m getting to do it with my best friend.”
Johnson Publishing, the nation’s largest African-American-owned media company, was founded by John Johnson in 1942. His daughter and Rogers’ friend, Linda Johnson Rice, is chairwoman.
The Macy’s exhibit, “For the Love of Color,” honors the legacy of Rice’s mother, Eunice Johnson, founder of the Ebony Fashion Fair, a series of traveling runway shows. The exhibit will be on display from Thursday through Monday at the Macy’s at Lakeside Shopping Center. Rogers will host an opening reception on Thursday at the Metairie store.
Eunice Johnson, who died last year at 93, moved in elite fashion circles. Rogers does as well.
In some ways, the exhibit feels like a passing of the torch.
Fun fact about Desiree Rogers:
Ms. Rogers grew up in New Orleans 7th ward, reigned Queen of Zulu (Mardi Gras) and is the daughter of the late Roy Glapion a former New Orleans City Councilman who reigned as King of Zulu (Mardi Gras) posthumously.