New White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers has a feature in Vogue! Check out part of the article below from Style.com.
In Chicago on a Saturday before the Inauguration, Barack Obama taped a Meet the Press interview in which he described his vision for social life in the White House during his presidency, likening the place John Adams built to a “bully pulpit” he will use to inspire Americans, especially young Americans, with a renaissance of culture, poetry readings, concerts, and science lectures. “Our art, our culture, our science,” Obama said, are “the essence of what makes America special, and we want to project that as much as possible in the White House.”
In Washington that same Saturday, Desirée Rogers, the woman who will be responsible for every social event and ceremony-from a tea for two to a peace-treaty signing for thousands-in the Obama White House, was visiting Letitia Baldrige prior to officially stepping into her new job as special assistant to the president and White House social secretary, a position Baldrige held during the Kennedy administration.
Baldrige, now in the midst of writing her memoirs, When the World Loves You Back, kindly offered Rogers some helpful tips, like always having a backup plan if the First Lady is unable to attend a function or, for state dinners, checking whether any of the guests have children and, if they do, arranging for a signed gift from the First Family to mark the occasion-something special, like a book, that they will remember for a lifetime.
“Desirée is so poised and so charming, so substantial and capable, but nonetheless I told her how important it is to always stand up to the West Wing,” Baldrige recounted later. “The West Wing is the men’s side, and they will want to push you to put all those politicians on the dinner lists, and you’ve got to be strong and say no. Always represent what the First Lady and the president want. In the case of the Obamas, it’s an exciting mix of people-not paybacks.”
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 never really had any serious hesitation about accepting the job, but before telling the Obamas yes, she discussed the decision with Washington insiders, including the philanthropist Ann Jordan and Ann Stock, a social secretary in the Clinton White House, to make sure her view of the job was “in sync” with the Obamas’ vision. Knowing for sure that “it is,” she told me when we met on a day she was visiting Manhattan for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s opening night at New York City Center, she hasn’t looked back. How could she? There isn’t time.
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