Exterior of Nancy Nicholas Hall in the evening, with lamps and windows glowing.
News & Events

Creating moments of connection: Meet child development advocate Alex Rogers ’12

A white woman with dark blonde hair wearing a blue floral dress smiles at the camera.

Alex Rogers is led by an unrelenting North Star with a clear mission: Improve children’s lives. A force of positive change, Alex brings her passions to the forefront in her role at Reach Out and Read Wisconsin.

The nonprofit bridges areas of education, health and relationships through programs at pediatric clinics. Reach Out and Read trains medical providers to provide parents with advice about sharing books and reading aloud to children. The goal is to improve children’s brain development and strengthen parent-child relationships.

Through the Reach Out and Read program, children zero to five years old receive a new book at their well-child visits. In addition, pediatricians provide parents with evidence-based support and guidance on how to share books every day with their children — whether by scheduling out storytime or talking about books they’ve read together.

Four women pose in a line while holding up children's books.
Alex Rogers HDFS ’12 (left) at a Reach Out and Read site visit at Cumberland Healthcare Turtle Lake.

As a program manager, Alex collaborates with 45 pediatric clinic programs from across Wisconsin to implement the Reach Out and Read program. She conducts annual site visits with clinical staff to ensure high-quality performance of the program and provide ongoing assistance. Prior to her program manager role, Alex wore many hats at Reach Out and Read, such as marketing and communications, in an effort to increase program funding by sharing Reach Out and Read’s story.

“I’m most interested in coming up with solutions or programs that can create an impact, no matter how small,” Alex said. “I had a lot of things in my favor as a child, and I want to give all kids great childhoods. I know that is a big task that I alone can’t accomplish, but I feel like my work is helping move progress in a positive direction.”

Coursework that expands perspectives

Alex is a Human Development & Family Studies alum who graduated with her bachelor’s degree in 2012. Attending the UW–Madison School of Human Ecology was a catalyst for Alex’s career. After completing her freshman year at UW–La Crosse, she transferred to UW–Madison, where she was excited and also intimidated by the capital city brimming with opportunities.

To Alex, it seemed like everyone on campus knew what they wanted to do with their lives, and she wasn’t sure. But when she found the School of Human Ecology and learned about its Human Development & Family Studies program, everything changed.

“It was so nice to find a home right away within Human Ecology,” Alex said. “I was inspired by all of the career pathways in the Human Development & Family Studies program — you could go on to medical school, social work, nonprofits and more. I knew I was going to get the skills I needed to then choose my own adventure.”

The interdisciplinary coursework required within the Human Development & Family Studies program made Alex a well-rounded student. Taking classes like contemporary philosophy on moral issues, literature and math challenged her perspective and rewired her thinking process.

Learning about parent-child relationships and the development of Black children and families, exposed Alex to her privilege as a white, heterosexual woman living in Wisconsin. Further coursework examined how racism and societal inequities affect families of color, particularly child development.

A mother and daughter with blonde hair sit together and read an alphabet book. The book is opened to a blue page with the letter "L" on it.
Alex Rogers and her daughter read an alphabet book at home.

“The courses at Human Ecology helped me grow into who I am today,” Alex said. “And that’s someone who strongly believes and advocates for books at pediatric clinics that reflect different life circumstances, so all children and parents feel represented. Everyone who comes across these books is provided with a learning opportunity to see the world outside of what they’ve come to know.”

A generator of positive change

As a proud Human Ecology alum, Alex reflects fondly on her years studying at Nancy Nicholas Hall and soaking up the special energy that filled up each classroom. With the wisdom that 11 years of post-graduate experience brings, Alex imparts a few pieces of advice.

“If I could go back and tell myself what to do to better myself for my career, I’d say take every opportunity you can to learn from someone,” Alex said. “Gaining a new perspective is invaluable!”

Alex is excited for all that’s ahead for her career. She sees her passions for early childhood care and maternal/child health leading her to creating a society that better supports young families. What keeps her going is the motivation of affirming moments, like hearing stories of children smiling with joy when they receive books through Reach Out and Read, and experiencing the program herself with her growing family.

Four women and one man pose together in front of a projector screen at a company event.
Alex Rogers HDFS ’12 (center) and Reach Out and Read colleagues, including Dr. Dipesh Navsaria (left of center), attend an event where Alex won the Wyntress Smith Award for embodying the nonprofit’s core values.

She uses her Human Development & Family Studies degree every day — staying true to her strong passion to make even the tiniest ripples of positivity reach as many children as possible.

“I may be one person playing a small role, but I hope that everything I do benefits a child in my community.” Alex said. “I’m so excited that my degree has set me up to be someone who creates positive change.”