Johnson Publishing President Steps Down

Desiree Rogers Ruled Out as Sempowski Ward Successor

Six weeks after the arrival of former White House social secretary Desiree Rogers, and two weeks after the naming of a new editor-in-chief for Ebony, Johnson Publishing Co. Monday announced the resignation of Anne Sempowski Ward, its president and chief operating officer.

Ward was on maternity leave.

Rogers, a longtime friend of Chairman and CEO Linda Johnson Rice and a fellow Chicagoan, started work June 1 as a consultant “assisting with various aspects of corporate strategy as it relates to our core brands, Ebony, Jet and Fashion Fair,” spokeswoman Wendy Parks told Journal-isms.

Rogers’ presence appeared to underscore Johnson Rice’s June declaration that, “I have no plans to sell the company. None,” and that she was excited about what her new editor might bring to the table.

Parks told Journal-isms Monday that Rogers’ initial contract was for two months and that, “She is not being considered for president and COO.”

Ward was president and COO of Fashion Fair Cosmetics when she was named Johnson Publishing Co. COO in October 2008. “She will be responsible for developing the company’s financial and operational strategies and implementing diversified initiatives to grow sales and brand equity across all JPC brands including Ebony magazine, Jet magazine and Fashion Fair Cosmetics,” Rice said then.

Prior to joining Fashion Fair, Ward was assistant vice president of African-American marketing for the Coca-Cola Co. and spent more than a decade at Procter & Gamble, “where she led several brands and categories, including Pampers, Always, Tampax and hair care. She had a lead role in the launch of significant African-American marketing campaigns and created the ‘Total You’ beauty platform across P&G’s largest beauty brands,” a news release said at the time.

The June 2 announcement that Amy DuBois Barnett, deputy editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar magazine and former editor of Honey, would become editor-in-chief was viewed as a favorable step on the editorial side, especially since the slot had been vacant or filled on an interim basis for 14 months.

Ward’s portfolio was principally the business and marketing side of the company.