There truly is no better way to learn the secrets of successful leadership than from the real-life experiences of leaders who, everyday, succeed because of and in spite of the complex challenges of leadership. On Monday, July 22, a distinguished group of African women entrepreneurs experienced this first-hand, when they met with Desiree Rogers, CEO of Johnson Publishing Company LLC, the publishers of the renowned Ebony and Jet Magazines.
The group met with Ms. Rogers in Chicago during a whirlwind tour of the U.S. as part of the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (French AWEP), which Meridian International Center is implementing on behalf of the U.S. Department of State.
AWEP is one of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership projects, and will provide the women entrepreneurs with the opportunity to grow their businesses. These women have been grouped into three different sectors: agriculture (including poultry, biofuel, juice, cosmetics); fashion and textiles; and handicrafts and home décor. Their businesses employ anywhere from 5 to 500 people (including seasonal and part-time workers). Many of them are exporting their products to other African countries, and others to Europe and Asia. Only a small number are already exporting their products to the U.S.
In a dynamic discussion, Ms. Rogers shared her perspectives on women as business leaders and entrepreneurs. She also focused on the status of women in business today – where they came from and where they are headed.
The AWEP Participants also met with successful women entrepreneurs and leaders in Los Angeles, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; New York, New York; and Washington, DC.
About Desiree Rogers
Ms. Desiree Rogers, Chief Executive Officer of Johnson Publishing Company, LLC has earned a reputation as one of America’s most successful businesswomen. In 2004, Ms. Rogers was elected president of People Energy’s two natural gas utilities where she facilitated the 150-year old company’s transition from a traditional entity to a responsive, customer-centric organization.
In 2008, President Obama named Ms. Rogers as White House Social Secretary. She is the first African-American to hold that position. Ms. Rogers has served on several corporate and non-for-profit boards, most recently serving on Equity Residential, the largest publically traded REIT, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and as Vice Chairman of the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Museum of Science and Industry.
She serves on the boards of the Ad Council, DonorsChoose, Northwestern Memorial Foundation, and World Business Chicago. Most recently, Ms. Rogers was appointed by City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as the Board Chair for Choose Chicago, the Convention and Tourism bureau of Chicago.