As part of our Black History Month observance, Front Row introduces you to an outstanding African-American leader at ESPN.
Meet ESPN Vice President and Assistant Chief Counsel, Rosetta Ellis-Pilie. She provides legal counsel regarding all aspects of employment and labor law, and is managing attorney for the ESPY Awards, ESPN Radio and ESPN’s combat sports properties, which includes ESPN’s media partnerships with Top Rank Boxing and UFC.
Ellis is a U.S. Army veteran who has served in Germany, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
The Seton Hall University and Virginia Law School graduate answered a few questions for Front Row.
What’s your proudest moment at ESPN?
If I have to pick one, I would say being part of The Walt Disney Company’s “Heroes Work Here” campaign. It was a company-wide initiative to hire military veterans entering the civilian workforce. I was involved in the first Veterans Institute, as well as other outreach opportunities along the way. This campaign resulted in more than 10,000 qualified veterans being hired throughout Disney, and thousands of Veterans being hired by companies who attended the Institute and modeled their program from our materials. This has been a win-win for veterans and Disney, and was also personally satisfying for me as a veteran of the U.S. Army.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
It means the reflection and celebration of a rich history and culture. [The Fire The Next Time essayist] James Baldwin had a famous quote: “The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.” In a world and in an industry as fast-paced as ours, Black History Month provides an opportunity for everyone to take time to learn and reflect on some of that history, which I think is important.
What’s something unique about you that many coworkers don’t know?
That I wrote a ninth grade school book report analyzing whether the 1969 or 1986 New York Mets had the better overall team. I provided a detailed statistical analysis of each position including middle relievers and utility players. I received an A+ on the report, so perhaps my teacher was a Mets fan! And for those interested in my report conclusion feel free to ask me about it.
Tell us about a Black leader who inspires you and what they mean to you.
[Former First Lady] Michelle Obama. She started from humble beginnings and was incredibly accomplished in her own right before assuming the role of First Lady. However, the way that she seamlessly assumed her role as First Lady, and notably as the first African-American woman in that role – under an intense amount of scrutiny – was truly inspiring. In that leadership role, she served with intelligence, elegance, authenticity and grace. She continues to be an inspirational leader in various other ways outside of that role today.