Roger was born in 1959 in Detroit, Michigan, as the second child of Ivan and Mercedes (maiden name “Menendez”) Barris.
Roger attended various public schools in the Detroit area before going to the University of Detroit High School. U of D is a parochial school located in Detroit and dedicated to the academic excellence of its racially and religiously diverse student body. He excelled at U of D, earning numerous academic awards and being elected class president.
As importantly, a high school friend introduced Roger to the libertarian philosophy of “free minds and free markets” at the age of 17. He has been a libertarian since then.
Roger then attended Bowdoin College in Maine, a so-called “Little Ivies” school. He was graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Economics in 1981 in 3 ½ years; he was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa and won other academic rewards. He spent his junior year at the renowned London School of Economics and Political Science.
Bowdoin was also the beginning of his long-distance love affair with Colorado, to which he was introduced by one of his roommates, a Colorado native who has remained a friend to this day.
Roger used his early departure from college to teach English for 15 months in Tokyo, Japan, and then returned to the USA to enter the MBA program at the University of Michigan in the fall of 1982. Studying finance, he excelled again, being graduated in 1984 with High Distinction and earning other academic awards.
Roger also took his first step in Libertarian Party politics by running as a candidate for County Commissioner in Michigan in 1982.
In 1984, Roger began working in the Treasurer’s Office of Exxon Corporation in New York City. Among other things, this job showed him that the absurd tax and regulatory environment meant that he, with clever structuring in NYC, could create far more earnings for the company than dozens of petroleum engineers in Houston. This is wrong.
After a brief period with a consulting firm, in 1987 Roger was hired by Goldman Sachs and began his 26-year career (with an 18-month gap) as an investor and entrepreneur, typically in a leadership role. Groups that Roger led made over $20 billion of investments into companies with hundreds of employees. His teams never lost money during any year, including during the Financial Crisis of 2008, which he anticipated in his personal and professional investing. Roger has never been one to follow the herd.
Roger quit working in NYC in early 1990 to move to France with the woman he would marry in 1994. While there, he taught finance at a local college, cycled in the lower Alps, and learned French. (Roger’s bilingual children would dispute this last claim.)
When the money ran out in mid-1991, Roger was re-hired by Goldman Sachs in London. Later he would work for Deutsche Bank, Starwood Capital and Merrill Lynch.
In 2010, Roger fulfilled his dream of becoming an entrepreneur when he (and his two partners) founded Peakside Capital, a high-performing manager of real estate funds for institutional and high-net-worth clients. Peakside has had offices in London, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, Poland and Prague, and employs 30-40 people in the management of $1-2 billion of investments.
Roger retired from the day-to-day management of Peakside in 2015, although he still advises the firm. He also advises another fund manager and works with the startup companies in which he has made “angel investments.” These companies are in the biotechnology, beverages, real estate and cannabis industries.
While in Europe, Roger lived in England, France and Switzerland. This allowed him to experience, first hand, what America could be if it followed policies of economic and personal freedom, low taxes, fiscal prudence, non-interventionism, decentralization, and small government (like Switzerland) or if it continues in the opposite and destructive direction (like France).
Always planning to return to the USA and become heavily involved in the Libertarian Party, Roger began his preparation by starting a blog (www.economicmanblog.com) on economics and policy in 2012. In addition to his blog, he has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Zero Hedge, and various other outlets.
Roger moved to the mountains of Evergreen, Colorado, in 2017. A true libertarian, he is a Coloradan by choice, not by birth. He chose Colorado for its outdoor lifestyle and frontier values of independence, self-reliance and common sense. Trying to preserve and expand these values, and not the desire to make politics a career, is the reason he is running for office. Roger thinks that career politicians have been a disaster for our country, a belief that underlies his support for policies such as term limits.
Roger lost his father in 1985 and his older brother in 2002. But he is blessed to have three adult children – Athena (23), Artus (20) and Oscar (19) – and his mother.
He is also in a long-term relationship with a woman who shares his love of adventure, honesty, the outdoors and freedom.
And dogs, at least two, are in the planning!