Rosa Gatti, ESPN senior vice president, communications counsel and corporate outreach, will receive the 2011 Mary Garber Pioneer Award on Friday, June 24. The award will be presented by the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM) at its annual conference held in Charlotte, N.C.
The award, named after Garber, a sportswriter in North Carolina whose pioneering career began in the 1940s when women were not allowed in press boxes or locker rooms, recognizes individuals who have broken barriers and have served as role models for women in sports media. Gatti has consistently done so in a career spanning five decades, including 31 years at ESPN. She is the first communications professional to win the award since it was established in 1999; all previous winners were journalists.
Gatti said, “Many great women have braved the way in sports journalism and media. That AWSM would include me in such a group is humbling. I will cherish this honor.”
Lesley Visser, winner of the inaugural Pioneer Award, will introduce Gatti at the event and said, “Rosa has been central to the growth of women in this industry. She grew up as a fan – rumor has it she was a mean cornerback on her neighborhood tag team – and she’s always had both knowledge and passion. Rosa is so deserving of the Mary Garber Award because she’s always been there to encourage, to lead, to mentor and to care for the success of all women in sports.”
Gatti, one of the most respected people in the telecommunications and sports industries, has shown poise and professionalism throughout her stellar career. Gatti’s career in sports communications began in 1973 as a secretary in the Sports Information Office at her alma mater Villanova University. By the end of 1974, she had become the first female sports information director at a major NCAA university.
After a four-year stint as SID at Brown University, which hosted numerous NCAA Championships, Gatti joined fledgling ESPN in 1980, overseeing all aspects of communications. She flourished at ESPN helping setting company standards and receiving numerous promotions and additional responsibilities. Gatti founded ESPN’s first Diversity Committee in the early 90’s.
Helping others and in the community has been constant throughout her career. She oversees all of ESPN’s corporate outreach initiatives, including The V Foundation for Cancer Research, corporate giving, cause-marketing and volunteerism.
Gatti has received numerous awards for her contributions in communications including the Association of Cable Communicators Achievement Award; a Wonder Women of the Year by Women in Cable and Multichannel News; and CoSIDA’s (College Sports Information Directors of America) “Keith Jackson Eternal Flame Award.” She is especially proud of her Communications staff receiving PR Week’s Corporate Team of the Year Award in 2005.