Desiree Rogers: From Salahi Slip-Up to Corporate Success


"I was never sure that I wanted to be there for, you know, four years," she said. "I'm a business person at heart."

Still, she referred to her relationship with Jarrett as "strained."

"This is work," she said. "You have to separate that from your own, you know, personal endeavors."

Desiree Rogers on Starting Fresh

But other slip-ups in Rogers' public life played a part as well. While working as White House social secretary, Rogers often was criticized for being too frank with the press and dressing in expensive, high-fashion clothing -- too stylish for Washington, especially during a recession.

"I don't consider myself flashy at all," she said. "I mean, did I dress like the average Washingtonian? No."

Rogers also was chastised for doing magazine cover profiles, including one for the Wall Street Journal magazine in August 2009, in which she discussed how she was selling "the Obama brand." She admitted she now regrets the attention.

"I would have declined more interviews that were brought to me," she said. "I'm not certain what the fascination was with me in particular. ... I think, you know, we could have managed all of that better."

That same year, Rogers also caught flack for attending the 2009 New York Fashion Week. She was photographed sitting in the front row next to Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue. Rogers defended herself and said she met Wintour during Obama's campaign.

"In fact, I think I was invited to I don't know how many fashion shows and I went to one," she said. "But that became, you know, this, 'Oh my gosh, she's gone to a fashion show.'"

The fashion shows turned out to be a great place for meeting talent, Rogers said, that she could later use to book for events.

May 2011 cover of Ebony
Courtesy of Johnson Publishing Co.

"The reason that I was at Fashion Week, which is on a day off by the way, was [because] many times that people that we were working with in this White House, that's where creativity gathers," she said. "It was like one-stop business shopping."

But clearly, leaving the White House hasn't held Rogers back, not even from politics. She recently was involved with former White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel's transition into becoming the mayor of Chicago.

With her new position with Johnson Publishing, Rogers said it was all about getting back to basics. But she was looking forward to a boom year.

"I don't do ordinary work," she said. "That is not me in the least."

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