Entries in Desiree Rogers (2)
Image of Letitia Baldrige courtesy of the J.F.K. Library / Public Domain
A few weeks after the election a Mrs. O regular recommended "A Lady, First," the memoirs of Letitia Baldrige, as a good read. The book chronicles Ms. Baldrige's time working in the American embassies of Paris and Rome as a young Vassar grad, and later, as White House Social Secretary during the Kennedy administration. The book was recommended with the thought that a look back might later reveal nuanced parallels or noteworthy differences as the "O"s set their own social and cultural agenda in the White House.
An excellent read it was, and since finishing, we've been increasingly curious about the role of White House Social Secretary - and now, the accomplished woman who has taken on the position for the Obama administration, Desiree Rogers. During a January 29 segment, NPR journalist Michelle Norris described Ms. Rogers's presence at the Lily Ledbetter White House reception:
"Somewhere in the background, a tall woman in a belted black velvet jacket was making sure everything was just so - from the yellow orchids on the tables to the apricot coffee cake. Her name is Desiree Rogers. She's the new White House social secretary responsible for planning events from state dinners to the annual Easter egg roll. She comes to the White House armed with a Harvard MBA, a long resume in the corporate world and a keen knowledge of the first family's tastes as a longtime member of their inner Chicago circle."
Speaking with NPR later in the segment, Ms. Rogers revealed what she doesn't want to be known as - the White House party planner. Foremost, she's concerned with building an overall strategy for events held at the White House, with the aim to build a greater sense of inclusiveness. On her agenda? A possible American Heroes dinner, a more diversified art collection, and a regular Wednesday night congressional cocktail hour.
In an interview with Vanity Fair this month, Ms. Rogers touched on the oft made comparisons to Camelot. “I don’t believe we are going to recreate Camelot,” she says. “Certainly there are very valuable lessons to learn from Camelot. Our hope is we will have our own administration…. The American people have spoken. They want new ideas.” Ms. Rogers’s goal, she says, is “to create an environment of inclusiveness so that all Americans feel like the White House is their home.” A woman as stylish as she is accomplished (we've read that, like the First Lady, Ms. Rogers is a longtime patron of Ikram) we look forward to tracking Ms. Rogers's broader influence, and of course, every ball, dinner and reception she plans for the White House.