Stacy Rodgers, M.P.A. ’99
Stacy Rodgers, M.P.A. ’99, has a mission statement: “to help people and to serve.” In her role as personal adviser to the acting commissioner of the U.S. Social Security Administration, Rodgers has ample opportunity to fulfill that mission.
“[We provide] benefits for retirees and those who are most vulnerable, including disabled adults and children and families who receive survivor benefits,” she says. The organization is a touchstone “from the cradle to the grave,” she adds. “We issue Social Security numbers at birth, administer benefits throughout individuals’ lives, keep track of earnings for millions of workers throughout their careers and … maintain the registry of deaths in the United States.”
A 2011 appointee of President Barack Obama who has held positions at every level of government—local, state and federal—Rodgers also is the organization’s chief of staff and White House liaison. “Part of my job is to ensure efficient … operation, and I work with many other agencies to advance the priorities of the president,” she says.
“The idea is that ‘someday’ will come sooner than we think, and we need to be prepared.”
The western-Pennsylvania native describes herself as “a coal miner’s daughter and the great-granddaughter of a ‘Rosie the Riveter.’” (One of her most prized possessions is her great-grandmother’s U.S. Steel identification badge.) She moved East to attend college at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and worked in higher education before finding her passion in human services.
Rodgers is particularly passionate about the Social Security Administration’s new “Someday” campaign—designed to educate the public about the importance of retirement savings—and recalls her own “a-ha!” moment when she realized she needed to double up on the amount she was saving for retirement. “The idea is that ‘someday’ will come sooner than we think, and we need to be prepared,” she explains. (Learn more and sign up for a free My Social Security account to plan and track your retirement benefits.)
Calling herself “a dedicated Bee,” Rodgers says she loves interacting with UB students through the Backpack to Briefcase program, in which alumni visit undergraduate classrooms to discuss their experiences and share their expertise. “I like to share the analogy of planting shade trees that [the next generation will] sit under—what will be your legacy, to show that you have been there and made a difference?
“I am profoundly honored to be in public service, helping to influence national public-policy and business practices that better serve people,” she continues. “That’s my lasting difference that will be there long after I am.”