CITY HALL — The mayor tapped an old White House associate to fill the top slot on the board of the Choose Chicago tourism agency.
Desiree Rogers, who served as social secretary to President Barack Obama when Mayor Rahm Emanuel was White House chief of staff, is the new chairwoman of the board at Choose Chicago, replacing Bruce Rauner.
"Desiree Rogers is a world-class business executive and a truly proud Chicagoan, and her unique talents and experience are a perfect fit for this important role," Emanuel said in a statement. "I am confident that she will help Choose Chicago reach the next level as it continues to find creative ways to lure tourists and convention business. I am excited at the prospect of working alongside Desiree again,and I celebrate both her appointment and her success."
Rogers headed the Illinois Lottery for six years before following Obama to the White House. She left the post following the controversy over the so-called gate crashers at a state dinner, but returned to Chicago to become chief executive officer of Johnson Publishing Co.
"I am thrilled to once again be working with Mayor Emanuel in a job that allows us to showcase Chicago to the country and the world," Rogers said. "The Choose Chicago team has had two incredible years of success, and I look forward to helping them further elevate Chicago so that the city can reap the economic, job-creation and investment benefits that come from increased tourism and convention business."
Emanuel charged Rogers with helping Choose Chicago President and Chief Executive Officer Don Welsh in his announced goal to bring 50 million tourists a year to the city.
"Desiree’s leadership and support will be instrumental as we continue to implement our aggressive marketing, sales and communications strategies to achieve Mayor Emanuel’s goals for the organization," Welsh said. "Choose Chicago has successfully elevated the destination through these efforts, which will further enhance Chicago’s position as a global leader in this fiercely competitive visitor industry."
Rauner left the post to "pursue personal interests," according to the statement from the Mayor's Press Office. The GOP financier and Emanuel supporter has formed an exploratory committee for a potential run for governor next year.