Women CEOS of the North Shore and Beyond: Desirée Rogers

We all know the North Shore, like its neighbor Chicago, is full of exceptional women.

But how many of those women rise to lead companies? And how do those few CEOs manage to rise through the ranks? According to Fortune’s 2011 rankings, there are only 12 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies—a measly 2.4 percent. While many women have broken the glass ceiling in recent years, the progress can seem slow.

So, we sat down with five local CEOs to learn their secrets, tips and ideas. Much of their advice was variations on a theme: Find work that you love. And we also got a glimpse of their daily lives—from how they juggle parenting and work to how they spend their money, and what they do when they just need to get away from it all.

Desirée Rogers, Johnson Publishing Company
Chicago

Desirée served as the White House Social Secretary for President Obama and the First Lady, where she spearheaded the establishment of the White House as “the people’s house.” Throughout her sometimes controversial tenure, she maintained her composure and added her own panache to events large and small.

In August 2010, Desirée was named CEO of Johnson Publishing, where she oversees Jet and Ebony magazines.

Cover Girl …
Desirée’s fashion-forward style landed her on the cover of WSJ, the Wall Street Journal’s style magazine and in the pages of Vogue and Women’s Wear Daily.

Controversy …
When a reality TV star couple crashed an exclusive state dinner, Desirée took the brunt of the criticism. She didn’t help her cause when it became known that she was not only running the dinner, but also she was a seated guest.

Comeback …
According to a recent article in Women’s Wear Daily, when Desirée took over Johnson Publishing, Ebony was in a free fall, with ad pages down 39 percent the previous year. She hired an outside firm to take over circulation; ordered a redesign of the magazine, which by all accounts had gotten stale; and took some risks, such as the recent February cover that features the cast of “Red Tails,” instead of the typical loving couple. So far, her changes are working and the magazine finished 2011 with a solid increase in ad pages of 8.6 percent.