Since this Iowa native came to Memphis in 1979, she has played a key role in shaping the city. Following the examples of her parents, who were involved in community improvement, Gayle Rose has worked in development for the Memphis Arts Council, was a co-founder of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, and helped save the historic Hunt-Phelan home. In 2001 she served on the group that brought an NBA team to town (now the Memphis Grizzlies), an effort so confidential even her family didn’t know what she was working on. Most recently she became chair of the board of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, leading its reorganization and funding in the wake of a grave financial crisis.
A long with these civic endeavors, she runs her own technology business, EVS Corporation, and chairs the Rose Family Foundation private charity. Close to her heart is another charity she founded — Team Max, named after her son who was killed in a car crash. Described by Rose as “vigilante philanthropy,” Team Max uses social media to let people know of pressing needs in Memphis and around the world — and how they can help.
When it comes to the issues affecting women, her drive and initiative have sparked change. She led the Women’s Foundation board to raise $7.5 million toward the Hope VI project, which replaced deteriorating public housing — where nearly 100 percent of leaseholders are females — with dramatically improved communities. Through philanthropy and political action she advocates for job training, child care, health care, and economic parity. Rose considers poverty and domestic violence the most urgent problems that Memphis women face. Says Rose, “Eighty percent of people living in poverty [here] are women.”
Bessie Vance Brooks
Martha Ellen Maxwell