Edwina Rogers in May 2012
May 27, 1964 |
|Known for||Conservative lobbyist, former Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America|
Edwina Rogers (born May 27, 1964) has served in public policy positions in the US Senate, White House, private, and international sectors for over twenty years. She has worked for two Presidents and four Senators, and founded or directed lobbying firms for public health issues. From 2012 to 2014, she was the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America.
Background and Education
Edwina Rogers grew up poor in rural Alabama. Her home life was troubled, and at one point she, her mom, and one of her siblings lived in a women’s shelter. She attended the University of Alabama on scholarship and received her BS in Corporate Finance, then went on to law school at The Catholic University of America (CUA), earning her J.D. while working several jobs. Rogers was a Fellow at the Kennedy School at Harvard during 1996.
In 1989, she married Ed Rogers, a protege of political strategist Lee Atwater who served in two administrations and founded a lobbying firm with former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour. The couple lived in an 18,000-square-foot mansion in McLean, had two children, and named their son Haley. The couple divorced in 2012 amid mutual allegations of infidelity.
Rogers worked on International Trade matters for President George H. W. Bush at the Department of Commerce from 1989 to 1991. She practiced law in the Washington office of Balch and Bingham from 1991 until 1994, then served as General Counsel of the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the Republican take-over of the Senate in 1994. She worked for Senator Trent Lott while he was a Majority Leader in 1999.
Rogers handled health policy for Senator Jeff Sessions in 2003 and 2004 before serving as Vice President of the Health Policy for the ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) Industry Committee (ERIC) in Washington, DC from May 2004 until January 2009. ERIC advocates the employee benefits and compensation interests of America’s major employers.
She served as the founding Executive Director of the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative from 2006-2011, a Washington DC trade association, responsible for the national Patient Centered Medical Home movement and implementing the model around the US. She also served on the Board of Directors of Semco Energy, Inc. (NYSE: SEN) a natural gas distribution company until 2007.
Secular Coalition for America
Rogers signed on as Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America for five years, over the next few years the group continued to struggle with controversy over the decision, and two years later she was dismissed. The Secular Coalition represents 11 member organizations and their members on Capitol Hill. Rogers’ selection came on the heels of the March 2012 Reason Rally, a Secular Coalition for America sponsored event that drew tens of thousands of atheists, agnostics, humanists and other non-theistic Americans to Washington, D.C.
The Secular Coalition for America emphasizes separation of church and state, and champions issues with which the Republican Party typically comes into conflict. The people on its staff and in its member organizations typically support gay marriage, think contraception should be more broadly available, and work against school vouchers that use public funds to support “religious indoctrination.” As a former Republican staffer, Rogers faced a great deal of scrutiny from the non-religious community when she joined the SCA.
In answer to her skeptical critics, Rogers describes herself as “nontheist” and as a libertarian-leaning economic conservative who is also “laissez-faire on social issues”. According to Rogers, being a professional lobbyist and political staffer meant going along with certain causes even when she didn't believe in them. In 2007, when Rogers was vice president of health policy for the ERISA Industry Committee, Rogers testified in the House against a bill mandating more generous mental-health coverage, even though she personally favored the legislation. And she handled health-policy issues for pro-life senator Jeff Sessions despite being pro-choice herself. Rogers states she has donated to Planned Parenthood over the past 25 years.
Rogers has been a regular contributor of conservative newspaper columns, health and policy journals. She has written a conservative column for The Georgetowner newspaper in Washington, DC and is a regular strategist on cable news television. Rogers appeared as a commentator on Fox News, defending President Bush’s record in the war on terror and suggesting that Democrats were pushing a “secret agenda” during the 2006 midterm elections.
Rogers made a guest appearance on The Real Housewives of D.C. in 2010 and in 2008 she demonstrated for another television crew her signature gift-giving style, which involved cutting up sheets of dollar bills and using them as wrapping paper. She says she started doing this years ago, as a “cheap” and “unique” way of wrapping inexpensive gifts while still complying with ethics rules governing gift-giving in Washington. On camera, it read as pure Washington debauchery, and Rogers has suffered criticism over the incident.
- "Secular Coalition Announces New Executive Director, Edwina Rogers". Secular Coalition for America. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- "Edwina Rogers Moves on from ED Role". Secular Coalition for America. June 6, 2014.
- Laurie Goodstein and Mark Oppenheimer (June 6, 2014). "Secular Group, on Eve of Big Meeting, Fires Top Official Who Elevated Its Profile". The New York Times.
- "IAmA Republican from Alabama who now leads the largest nontheist lobbying organization, AMAA". Reddit AMA. Reddit. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- Libby Copeland (September 4, 2013). "True Nonbeliever". Washingtonian. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- "Edwina Rogers, Executive Director". Secular Coalition for America. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- Roxanne Roberts; Amy Argetsinger (16 September 2010). "Washington power-couple Ed and Edwina Rogers call it quits". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- "Executive Summary". Legislative Documents. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
- Roxanne Roberts; Amy Argetsinger (05/08/2012). "Republican lobbyist Edwina Rogers new head of Secular Coalition for America". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- "Transcript of Interview with Edwina Rogers, New Executive Director for the Secular Coalition for America". Greta Christina's Blog. Freethought Blogs. 8 May 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- "Pictures of Edwina Rogers". TVheads.com. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
- ""Dinner With Edwina Rogers"". Real Housewives of DC. IMDb.com. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- "Lobbyist Giftwrap: "As Long As The Gifts Are Small, I Don't Mind Wrapping Them In Money" (VIDEO)". PowerHouse. Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 January 2014.