Gatti Wins 2011 AWSM Pioneer Award

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, NC.

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 have been journalists.

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 to set company standards and receiving numerous promotions and additional responsibilities. Gatti founded ESPN’s first Diversity Committee in the early 90s, and oversees all of ESPN’s corporate outreach initiatives.

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.”