- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama on Monday announced two more hires to his White House staff, naming a prominent Chicago businesswoman as social secretary and a long time Democratic aide as chief of staff to Michelle Obama.

Desiree Rogers, a friend of the Obama’s at the center of Chicago’s business and social life, will serve as White House social secretary, leaving her current job at Allstate Financial, where she is president of social networking.

That will make Ms. Rogers one of the most sought after names in Washington. She will be the decider on who gets to come to White House parties, State dinners and other social functions.

The Obama presidency is already such a phenomenon that between three and five million people are expected to attend the inauguration on Jan. 20. Social functions at the White House during his administration will be hot tickets for Washington insiders as well as entertainment moguls, business tycoons, and other power players.

Ms. Rogers previously worked as an executive for Peoples Energy, a Chicago-based natural gas company, and prior to that ran the Illinois Lottery.

Earlier this month she hosted a birthday party at her Chicago condo for Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, which Mr. and Mrs. Obama attended.

Melissa Winter will be chief of staff to the first lady when Mr. Obama takes office on Jan. 20.

Ms. Winter was a long time senate and campaign aide, most recently to Sen. Joseph Lieberman, before going to work for Mrs. Obama during the campaign.

“Today’s announcement continues to builda team with the talent, commitment and experience to bring the change that we need to Washington,” Mr. Obama said. “These accomplished individuals share our commitment to bringing people together to achieve results for the American people at this time of great national challenge.”

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