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Gillian Rose, Vice Chairman

12 July 2011
Gillian Rose with Headmaster in MalawiGillian Rose

Meet New York's Board Members - an occasional series of profiles and insights into the people who are BAFTA New York's finest! The second article in this series is from Gillian Rose, Chair of the organization for two consecutive two-year terms and, as of July 1st, Vice Chair. Meet Gillian in her own words.

I have always felt immensely proud of my association with BAFTA and I loved being the Chairman. I think back to my years as a junior reporter covering television for a weekly paper in London. My beat included the BAFTA Awards. I remember the excitement of being there with all the celebrities and filing my story. That was in 1986 when the big winner of the night was A Room With a View. I could never have imagined that one day I would be Chairman of the organization’s New York chapter.

When I arrived in New York, I segued from journalist to executive but always loved to write. At any given time I have three or four diaries on the go and am constantly jotting down notes and ideas, interesting quotes or working through problems that often solve themselves if I write them down. I am a voracious reader, of history mostly, although as a treat I re-read the classics. My favorite book of all times is Bleak House. I often force myself to read books I don’t want to in order to challenge myself. Right now I have the complete works of Shakespeare on my ipad and am making my way (slowly!) through Measure for Measure. I have just finished Simon Winchester’s book on the history of the Atlantic, which I loved, and am looking forward to retreating into yet another book about the scramble for Africa in the late 19th century.

My day job is with New York’s public television station WNET. I have worked there for more than seven years doing a variety of jobs. I believe strongly in public television and its mission. I think I’ve been lucky to work there - great colleagues and great programs that we produce, despite the challenges.

Seven years ago I started a non-profit called The Rosemary Pencil Foundation to help very poor girls and boys get an education. It is in memory of my mother, a school principal and English teacher. I have two wonderful children Rosemary 17 and Michael 15 ½ - and couldn’t imagine them not having the chance to go to school. Rather than do something locally, (far too easy) I decided to find somewhere not in the news and concentrated first on Malawi, a country so poor and rarely mentioned until Madonna arrived there. I bought a roundtrip ticket to Lilongwe, rented a car, met up with people I’d corresponded with on email and went to visit schools. When my husband Frank dropped me at the airport, I told him tearfully never to let me do this again. But I did not heed my own advice and I go to SE Africa alone every year to visit students on our scholarship program. We will have 40 children in school in Malawi this September and 28 have already gone through our program. I have just started a ‘girls only’ initiative in Zimbabwe with several students at school there this year. I told Frank not to let me go there either, but to no avail. I think of these teenagers like an extended family.

My goal should be to write a book about Africa, make it into a film that wins a BAFTA and later airs on PBS. I will then feel I have come full circle.