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Joyce Rogina brought a unique perspective when she first came to the law as a second career back in 1994. As she herself acknowledges, the breadth of her experience—which has only increased since then—allows her to approach her work more holistically.
“I’m the attorney someone hires when they’re looking to view a deal in its legal and business totality because I’ve held virtually every possible seat at the negotiation table,” Rogina says.
Today, Rogina negotiates on behalf of Barnes & Noble Education (BNED), a leading solutions provider for the education industry. As vice president, chief privacy officer (CPO), and associate general counsel, Rogina leverages her expertise to lead key BNED initiatives around privacy and e-commerce. At the same time, she seeks to use her own professional journey to inspire other people who are navigating similarly nonlinear career paths.
The first in her family to attend college with the help of academic scholarships, Rogina was coding in COBOL and conducting published research on the early use of desktop computing in the workplace while studying computer applications and psychology at the University of Notre Dame in the early 80s. Despite her subsequent success in high-tech sales and business development at information technology pioneer Hewlett-Packard, she began to question her trajectory after seven years at the company.
“My ambition in my high school yearbook was to be a lawyer,” she says. “I realized that I didn’t want to wake up someday and regret not having tried.”
That realization pushed Rogina to apply for and attend law school at New York University. Over the next decade, she not only practiced at national law firm Lowenstein Sandler, but also cofounded a high-tech start-up company and served as a corporate counsel consultant at information provider LexisNexis—all positions that allowed her to use her JD degree. “I love closing technology deals,” she says. “That was where I found the sweet spot.”
Rogina continued to play to her strengths as a negotiator in legal and business roles at Verizon. She also evaluated new business opportunities for the company, which entered the education business at her suggestion. “I did the initial business case and helped stand up Verizon’s education business in near-record time by closing deals while embedded with the product team,” she confirms.
Her education focus at Verizon helped pave the way for Rogina to join BNED in January 2016. “As part of BNED’s ongoing digital transformation, I initially came in as the technology lawyer,” she explains.
Rogina’s skill set made her a natural fit for CPO, a title that she has held since 2019. “I work with a great BNED team to protect the personal information of all consumers, especially our students,” she says. In addition to aligning BNED’s privacy compliance program with ever-evolving state and federal privacy laws, she relies on technology to manage privacy concerns.
“Joyce is a visionary technology lawyer who relies on technology to do her job more effectively,” says Jerry Ferguson, a partner at the BakerHostetler Digital Assets and Data Management Practice Group. “Navigating compliance with modern privacy laws is a complex task, and Joyce has effectively deployed BakerHostetler’s IncuBaker legal technology consulting group to implement technological solutions that make life easier for her internal clients and better protect the rights of BNED customers.”
Furthermore, Rogina ensures that BNED’s e-commerce sites respect users’ privacy rights, such as when equipping students with education materials on the very first day of class without requiring the purchase of a physical textbook.
“BNED uses e-commerce to help fulfill our goals of accessibility, affordability, and student success,” she says. “And you can’t separate e-commerce from consumer privacy protection. They are inextricably entwined.”
Rogina also negotiates software-as-a-service contracts and other critical deals with the company’s technology partners.
While a formidable adversary as a leader at BNED, Rogina tries to operate from a place of gratitude and service—a leadership style that carries over into her broader commitment to her faith and giving back. She wants to empower people to forge their own paths, even if the dots making up their career might not seem to connect.
“I want people to understand more employers are valuing the experience of having multiple careers,” she says. “So many women in particular have nonlinear career paths, and I want to give them hope that the dots will connect.”
As her own nonlinear career path progresses, Rogina hopes that her efforts at BNED will reflect her values and her diverse areas of expertise. “My business experience makes me a much better lawyer because I’m focused on helping my clients meet their business objectives while mitigating risk,” she says. “At BNED, our objectives are to meet the evolving needs of the education system and to support this new generation of students.”
No matter her seat at the table, Rogina will see that those goals are met.