White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers to step down
WASHINGTON–White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers told me Friday she will step down next month, after presiding over 330 events in the White House in 14 months.
Rogers is departing after achieving a major goal of President Obama and First Lady Michelle — opening up the White House to make it the “peoples house.”
“As we turn the corner on the first year,” Rogers told me, “this is a good time for me to explore opportunities in the corporate world.”
Rogers told me it has been “an honor and a privilege to serve this president and First Lady, in what has certainly been a historic presidency.”
Rogers, a friend of the First Couple for years, was one of the first Obama administration appointees.
“When I took on this assignment, we talked about the importance of creating the people’s house. My work was really to create this framework,” she told me.
“I think I completed that work. Our office has been able to lay the foundation for what will be known as the ‘people’s house’ and it has already taken shape.”
Rogers tenure was marked by high points–she was a moving force behind a White House music series–and a low point, when the Obama’s first state dinner was crashed by a publicity seeking couple, Tareq and Michaele Salahi. Though the Secret Service immediately said it was their fault–agents did not follow security protocols–Rogers got some of the blame.
I asked Rogers if the Salahi episode was a factor in her resignation. “The incident at the State Dinner was not a deciding factor,” she told me. “But it did show me a side of the job and of Washington that I had not seen before.”
After I spoke to Rogers, President Obama and First Lady Michelle said in a statement, “We are enormously grateful to Desiree Rogers for the terrific job she’s done as the White House Social Secretary. When she took this position, we asked Desiree to help make sure that the White House truly is the People’s House, and she did that by welcoming scores of everyday Americans through its doors, from wounded warriors to local schoolchildren to NASCAR drivers. She organized hundreds of fun and creative events during her time here, and we will miss her. We thank her again for her service and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”
I’ve been told by several sources that Rogers will be replaced by Julianna Smoot, the chief of staff to the U.S. Trade Representative who was the Obama presidential campaign chief fund-raiser.