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Volume 20 No. 42
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After nearly 33 years guiding ESPN’s message, Gatti bids farewell this week

The press release announcing Gatti’s 1980 hiring at ESPN included then President Chet Simmons saying, “Rosa Gatti has been extremely successful in a field of endeavor heretofore male dominated.”
Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

More than a year ago, when George Bodenheimer told Rosa Gatti about his plans to step down as ESPN’s president, Gatti had a quick response.

“I said, ‘George, I’m right behind you,’” she said.

After nearly 33 years, Rosa Gatti will work her final day at ESPN this Thursday, when she officially retires.

“Few in their lifetime are blessed with such an amazing journey and privilege, to work with many wonderful people in growing a cultural icon, best-in-class communications practices, diversity initiatives and multi-faceted corporate outreach programs,” Gatti said in an email sent to her ESPN colleagues earlier this month. “I leave with so many great memories.”

Gatti, who turns 63 in June, has thought seriously about retirement for the past seven years.

“I wanted to be consulting and teaching at 55,” she said. “Then 60 was my goal.”

Gatti stuck around to work on her succession plan. Senior vice president Chris LaPlaca oversees the communications department, and vice president Kevin Martinez will oversee corporate outreach.

“I was just going to leave and didn’t even think to ask for a consulting agreement,” Gatti said. “For a period of time, I’ll stay on the V [Foundation] board. My goal is to have time and give back.”

— John Ourand