John Rogers – Putting his money where his mouth is

This is Part 2 in a week long series titled African-Americans in the Obama Administration: A Look Ahead. Today’s post focuses on Chicago business executive John Rogers.


In 2000, a broke Barack Obama ran for Congress against former Black Panther Bobby Rush and lost. He was now even broker.

A couple of years later Obama decided to run for the U.S. Senate – he was still broke. One of the early donors to his Senate campaign was John Rogers, who gave $11,000 towards Obama’s bid. Rogers was part of the black business community who Obama had relied on to jump start his political career in the Illinois State Senate.

Rogers played basketball at Princeton with Michelle Obama’s brother Craig, who is now the head coach at Oregon State. At the age of 24 he founded Ariel Investments, which is now the largest African-American owned investment firm. Ariel manages over $7 billion in assets. Rogers currently serves on the board of directors of Aon Corporation, Exelon Corporation and McDonald’s.

The Wall Street Journal has a nice piece on Rogers where they discuss a public school that he helped to start:

At Ariel Community Academy, the Chicago public school that Mr. Rogers helped launch, invesing is part of the curriculum. Each first-grade class gets $20,000 that they watch grow through the early years of school.

By sixth grade, the students -meeting in a boardroom with a giant bull and bear on the wall- begin researching stocks and investing. By eighth grade, they put some of the profits toward a school project and split the rest. They pass the $20,000 nest egg back to the next year’s first-graders.

On the Wednesday after the election, President-Elect Obama made calls and held meetings in offices borrowed from Rogers. Rogers was also in the group that assembled to hoop with Obama on Election Day.

mellody.jpgThough Rogers is not seen as a candidate for a formal role in the Obama White House, Ariel President Mellody Hobson is. Hobson is a frequent financial contributor on ABC’s Good Morning America and is often seen on the arm of Star Wars creator and director George Lucas.

The 39-year old Hobson hosted her first fundraiser for Barack Obama in 1995 and bundled over $100,000 for his presidential bid.

Wednesday: Charles Ogletree – Professor to the Obama’s

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