A Chicago businesswoman and close friend of the Obamas will be White House social secretary, the Tribune reports. Desirée Rogers, 49, will be the first African American to run functions and ceremonies at the president’s residence, working with the first lady. A Harvard MBA, Rogers has been a prominent figure in Chicago not-for-profits and on the city’s social scene.
“This appointment sends a strong message that the Obamas want to use the White House strategically, to maximize its use in a way that is consistent with their philosophy—open it to a broader range of people,” says adviser Valerie Jarrett. The position is weightier than it might sound, the Washington Post notes: Rogers will be in charge of every White House ceremony, including, for example, the swearing-in of the Cabinet.