Johnson Rice Steps Down as CEO of Johnson Publishing

Handing reigns to former White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, she remains as chairman

Rice resigns as CEO but retains Chairman position

Linda Johnson Rice has stepped down as CEO of Johnson Publishing Co. (No. 22 on the BE Industrial Service Companies list with $200 million in revenues), publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines. She will remain chairman of the company, a post she’s held since 2008. Desiree Rogers, who was most recently White House Social Secretary has been chosen to serve as CEO in her stead.

Rice is the daughter of the late John Johnson who founded Ebony magazine in 1945. Joining the company in 1980, she served in a variety of roles. She took over company operations as president and COO in 1987 and was appointed CEO in 2002, assuming the title of chairman a few years later.

Rogers' appointment as consultant takes on a new definition

Rogers joined the Chicago-based publishing company this past June. She was hired as a consultant to assist with corporate strategy. Rogers achieved a level of infamy in December of last year when she took the fall for a couple trespassing at a state dinner hosted by the White House. She stepped down from her White House position in March.

Ebony and Jet are persevering during the recession; both publications underwent editorial and visual redesigns—Ebony in 2004 and Jet this year. But that doesn’t mean Johnson Publishing Co. has been without transition.

  • The company lost its cofounder, Eunice Johnson, in January of this year, which prompted Ebony Fashion Fair, which she founded, to go on hiatus. There has been no word about when the company might resume its shows.
  • In February, Magic Johnson Enterprises tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a deal to buy Johnson Publishing Co.
  • Last month, author and magazine exec Amy DuBois Barnett was appointed Ebony’s editor-in-chief, replacing author and lifestyle coach, Harriette Cole, who stepped down from Ebony as creative director and acting editor-in-chief after more than three years in that position.
  • Also in July, Anne Sempowski Ward, who had served as president and COO at Ebony since 2008 resigned her position after giving birth in May.