It’s a Lab school reunion for John Rogers Jr.
July 5th, 2016
It felt a little like a high school reunion this morning as John W. Rogers Jr. gathered friends and family to the corner of 57th Street and Stony Island Drive to unveil the “Honorary John W. Rogers Sr. Drive.”
The ceremony honored his late father and brought together numerous childhood friends from the younger Rogers’ days at the University of Chicago’s Lab School. Rogers is founder, chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments, one of the city’s top minority-owned businesses.
Among the Labbies or Labbers, as alums of the school are known, were Alderman Leslie Hairston, who represents the 5th Ward neighborhood and helped organized the street naming; Linda Johnson Rice, chairman emeritus and a member of the board of Ebony Media Operations; Michelle Collins, co-founder of private-equity firm Svoboda Capital Partners; Charles Bobrinskoy, vice-chairman at Ariel Investments; Eric Kuby, chief investment officer of North Star Investment Management Corp.; psychologist Jimmy Bruce; and James Fleming, an entrepreneur who still plays basketball now and again with Rogers. The two were stars in high school. (Two alumni friends on the guest list who couldn’t make it: Arne Duncan, former education chief to President Barack Obama; and Valerie Jarrett, the president’s top aide.)
“He’s a gamer,” Fleming said of Rogers’ competitiveness on the court.
Friends of Rogers’ father were there too. The senior Rogers was a juvenile court judge and a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his work as a dive bomber with the legendary Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. His widow, Gwen Rogers, also attended.
“This is where my father built his life,” Rogers told me, pointing toward the Hyde Park neighborhood where he grew up. “It’s a magical community.”
Other notable names who attended the event included former Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle; U.S. Senator Carol Mosley Braun, who now runs a small organic-food company called Ambassador Organics; Rev. Jesse Jackson; Rev. Michael Pfleger; Lester McKeever of Washington, Pittman & McKeever accounting firm; and Rebecca Ford, senior counsel at Hardwick Law Firm LLC.
Rogers’ daughter, Victoria Rogers, flew in for the event from New York City, where she works for Kickstarter. She did the honors by pulling the curtain to display the new sign.