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Volume 21 No. 2
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From The Office Of The President

ESPN presidents through the years give their thoughts on Rosa Gatti

“Everybody that Rosa met was just captivated by her. She established some really good contacts despite the fact that she thought she would be just run out of town at first. She was a talented and a competent person, and her personality just fit with what we were trying to do. She was a can-do person from the get-go. She took care of things. She would tell people that she would do something, and she would do it. A lot of people don’t do that in the PR business. I can’t imagine where the time has gone. She’s getting ready to retire, for crying out loud.”

ESPN President, July 1978 to July 1979

“Everybody liked her and trusted her. She would never reveal anything she shouldn’t. She was very, very buttoned up. She was quite good at giving me an idea at what overall employee morale was. Rosa was so respected by everybody. I never heard a bad word about her from any of the department heads, and certainly not from the media.”
ESPN President, June 1982 to August 1988

“Rosa is the finest PR executive that I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve worked with some pretty good ones. She always had a cheerful, can-do attitude no matter what kind of last-minute problem we dropped in her lap. She’s just a super professional and a really lovely person. She was a great communicator and interpreter between the company’s executive leadership and the press that followed us.”
ESPN President, August 1988 to August 1990

“Rosa was in a man’s world of television at the time, in a subsection of sports media. Back then, media was very much a men’s club, and sports media was an almost exclusive men’s club, so she saw a lot of stuff that she constantly rose above. She made us better. She had a perspective and point of view that was different, which in the early days of ESPN was important because it really set the groundwork of why we want a diverse workplace. We had a lot of young people supervising a lot of young people. As we were growing and maturing, she was always a kind of calm and reassuring presence.”
ESPN President, September 1990 to November 1998

“Rosa Gatti, over three-plus decades, deserves a lot of credit for what the ESPN company has become. She doesn’t like to toot her own horn or take all the limelight. But trust me. I’ve known her for those 30 years. She’s been a tenacious advocate for the company — whether it was diversity, and she was one of the early advocates, or the outreach efforts highlighted by the V Foundation for Cancer Research. She’s been a tireless advocate. She doesn’t take no for an answer. She’s tenacious. When you’re working on things that are helping others less fortunate, that’s an admirable quality. You need a tenacious leader in there. And she has done that for three-plus decades. I have the utmost respect for her.”
ESPN President, November 1998 to December 2011

“I knew Rosa for a bunch of years at ESPN without knowing of her pioneering role for women in college sports. I got to understand it quickly when I had dinner one night with Rosa and former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese. Before we ordered, the stories were flowing on Dave Gavitt, Rollie Massimino, John Thompson and other college legends. Michael underscored how tough Rosa was and how she always held her own in the college universe. I knew how well served ESPN was to have a pioneer who thrived in that world on our team.”
ESPN President, January 2012 through today

Note: Chet Simmons, ESPN’s president from July 1979 to June 1982, died in 2010.

— Compiled by John Ourand