VILLANOVA, Pa. –The Villanova University Alumni Association (VUAA) has selected two distinguished graduates to receive its highest accolades during the University’s Reunion Weekend, June 5-8. Rosa M. Gatti ’72 CLAS will be presented with the 2014 St. Thomas of Villanova Alumni Medal. A trailblazer for women in the sports industry, Gatti had a remarkable 33-year career at ESPN, going on become the network’s Senior Vice President of Communications Counsel and Corporate Outreach before retiring in 2013. Taylor Henderson ’05 CoE will be awarded the VUAA’s Young Alumni Medal. Henderson has built a Habitat for Humanity home on every continent in the world, with the exception of Antarctica, before the age of 30.
The St. Thomas of Villanova Alumni Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the VUAA, is conferred on alumni who best symbolize the spirit and legacy of St. Thomas. Alumni selected for the honor have achieved a level of distinction within their chosen fields or professions and have brought extraordinary benefit to the University and their communities. The Villanova Young Alumni Medal is awarded to an alumnus who has reached a significant level of achievement in his/her profession and who is a model of the quality and caliber of today’s Villanova student. All young Alumni Medal winners are recent graduates having earned their degrees from the University within the past 10 years.
“There are more than 115,000 Villanova University alumni living around the world and among these thousands, Rosa Gatti and Taylor Henderson stand out,” said George Kolb, Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations. “Despite an extremely successful and demanding career, Rosa was always committed to Villanova and she remains actively involved with the University and the Alumni Association today. Taylor exemplifies the spirit of service that students cultivate while at Villanova. Rosa and Taylor are most deserving of these Medals and Villanova University is proud to call them our own.”
After graduating from Villanova in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages, Rosa M. Gatti began her career as an administrative assistant in Villanova’s athletic department. In 1974, when she was just 24 years old, Gatti was hired as the University’s Sports Information Director, the first female to hold this position at a major NCAA university. Gatti quickly gained recognition in the college sports world, eventually holding the same position at Brown University for four years.
In 1980, ESPN, still in their first year of operation, hired Gatti to build the network’s communication department, establishing policies and best practices. She quickly became a trusted confidant to ESPN’s top executives. In the mid-1980s Gatti started overseeing ESPN’s human resources department where, in 1991, she founded ESPN’s Diversity Committee. Gatti went on to become Senior Vice President of Communications Counsel and Corporate Outreach, overseeing all of ESPN’s corporate outreach initiatives, including The V Foundation for Cancer Research, corporate giving, cause-marketing and volunteerism.
Following a 33 year-career with ESPN Gatti retired in 2013 as one of the most respected persons in the telecommunications and sports industries. Gatti served on the Villanova Board of Trustees for 10 years; she is a member of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Dean’s Advisory Council; and a co-chair of the Communication and Media Society’s Senior Advisory Council. Gatti resides in Connecticut.
Taylor Henderson earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Villanova in 2005. In August 2012, Henderson, a North America Commercial Executive at Dow Solar, achieved his goal of building a Habitat for Humanity home on every continent in the world, with the exception of Antarctica, before the age of 30.
Henderson's passion for Habitat for Humanity stems from his time as a student at Villanova. During his sophomore year, Henderson participated in a Habitat build in inner-city Philadelphia. As a senior, he participated in a Habitat Global Village build in Khayelitsha, South Africa. Since graduating from Villanova, Henderson has traveled to Borneo, Malaysia, Chile, New Zealand and Romania to build Habitat Homes.
In addition to these international efforts, Henderson, a resident of Denver, Colorado, founded Denver Habitat Young Professionals (HYP) in 2009 to share his passion for Habitat with others in the Denver area. He now serves on the board of Habitat Metro Denver's Corporate Leadership Team. Henderson is the former Chapter President of the VUAA in Denver. He currently participates in the Alumni Interview Program by meeting with prospective Villanova students.
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.