Melissa Rogers, special assistant to President Obama and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and one-time general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, will be nominated by the outgoing president as a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.
Obama announced Rogers Jan. 16 as his pick for one of a number of appointments to administration posts before he leaves office Jan. 20.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Council was established by Congress in 1980 to lead the nation in commemorating the Holocaust and to raise private funds for and to build the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The first chairman was Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel.
The museum, located on the National Mall in Washington, was built at the cost of $168 million and dedicated in 1993. As of June 2016, more than 40.2 million visitors had been there, including 99 heads of state. About one fourth of visitors are school children.
Once the museum opened, the council became its governing board of trustees, overseeing a 400-member museum staff and more than $96 million annual budget funded by government appropriations and private donations.
Members of the 55-member council are appointed by the president to serve alongside members of both houses of Congress and ex-officio members from the Departments of Education, Interior and State. Presidential appointments last five years. The council meets twice a year, but because of its size does much of its work through committees.
Rogers, on the staff of the Baptist Joint Committee from 1994 to 1999, was appointed to the White House post in 2013. In 2014, the BJC gave Rogers the J.M. Dawson Religious Liberty Award and invited her back to speak to 650 moderate Baptists at the Religious Liberty Council luncheon during the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Atlanta.
After leaving the BJC Rogers worked as director of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity Center for Religion and Public Affairs and a non-resident senior fellow with The Brookings Institution. She was inaugural chair of Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, appointed in 2009.