ESPN communications pioneer Rosa Gatti is retiring today after 33 years in which she helped a fledgling operation evolve into the worldwide leader in sports programming.
As senior vice president, communications and corporate outreach, Gatti, a member of Multichannel News’ 2008 Wonder Women class, has played a major role in shaping ESPN’s position in the sports and business communities. During her tenure, she was also involved in a number of corporate outreach initiatives, including The V Foundation for Cancer Research, corporate giving, cause marketing and volunteerism.
Gatti joined ESPN in July 1980 as director, communications and with her staff built a communications department that established policies and procedures pertaining to media relations and viewer response.
She joined ESPN after spending four years as sports information director at Brown University, where she also served as the publicity coordinator for a number of NCAA championships and chaired a variety of national sports information committees. Before Brown, Gatti was employed by her alma mater, Villanova University, where she began as a secretary in the school’s sports information office in 1973, before being promoted to assistant director within a year, and in December 1974 became the first female SID in the NCAA’s major university division.
ESPN colleagues paid tribute to Gatti on-air as depicted in this video.