Healthy & Whole: Tiana Rogers' Life Mission
By Jake Harper
Sorenson Impact is happy to welcome Dr. Tiana Rogers to the team. Dr. Rogers joins the Center as Program Manager for Policy Innovation, a role to which she brings a wealth of professional experience and an incredible educational background. She grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota before earning her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She then went on to earn two master's degrees, one in criminal justice and the other in human service leadership, both from Concordia University in St. Paul. She then earned a Ph.D. in human services with a social and community services specialization from Capella University in Minneapolis.
Every step of her post-secondary education was centered around the common theme of helping people. “Serving other people is the rent you pay to be part of a community,” she said. “You get the most out of life when you’re serving other people.”
Dr. Rogers and her husband recently moved to Utah to pursue new job opportunities. When asked about her transition from Minnesota to Utah, she said, “I was pleasantly surprised by Salt Lake. I’m really impressed by the culture of kindness. It crosses so many sectors of life here.”
Dr. Rogers’ diverse background puts her in a unique position at the Sorenson Impact Center. Spanning across sectors, she brings her knowledge, skills, and expertise to the forefront of social impact. “I want to solve complex social problems in whatever ways I’m needed,” she said.
Her previous work includes two projects that are particularly in line with Sorenson Impact and its mission. While in Minnesota, Dr. Rogers founded the Diamonds and Pearls Project. The project provided high school girls in the community with the opportunity to have a full prom treatment, complete with a complementary dress, jewelry, alterations, and a makeover by hair and makeup professionals. In exchange, the girls were asked to donate non-perishable foods to a community youth food pantry. This embodies Sorenson’s belief that there are always ways to engage with the community creatively for social benefit.
The other stretch of Dr. Rogers’ background that is especially fitting for her position with Sorenson Impact is her time working in child protection. For six years she used evidence-based practices to help children who had been neglected, abused, and/or abandoned. Shortly before she moved from Minnesota, Dr. Rogers had a very special, unique experience. While at the grocery store, Dr. Rogers was approached by a former client she helped several years earlier when the girl was a child. The young woman thanked Dr. Rogers for the things she had taught her, expressing that Dr. Rogers had taught her the skills she needed to advocate for herself. She had risen to be manager of the cashiers and lived in her own place.
Reflecting on this experience, Dr. Rogers said, “Often times, in social services, you don’t get to see the results of your efforts; you’re just trying your best to help people get out of their current crisis. This was a cool experience because I got to see that the seed I had planted many years prior had grown into something incredible.”
When asked about the impact she wants to make on the world, Dr. Rogers simply said, “I want people to know that they are worthy to be healthy and whole, and that serving other people is the key to that health and wholeness.” She added, “I want people to know that I worked hard to eliminate the barriers that prevented them from being healthy and whole.”
Even more telling was her initial response when asked, “What’s your vision for the impact you’ll have on the world?” Her very first words were, “I think about that often.” Therein lies the power of Dr. Tiana Rogers. It’s clear that she does think often about her relationship with the world and what she can do to make it a better place.
Taking the time to think and care about communities and people is one of the things that makes the people of Sorenson Impact, like Dr. Rogers, so good at what they do.