Marcia Ann Gillespie is a trailblazer in the magazine industry, a leader in the women's movement, a champion of gender and racial justice. She has been a driving force behind two of this nation's most important women's magazines as the editor in chief of Essence from 1971-1980 and most recently as the editor in chief of Ms from 1993-2001. Named the Editor in Chief of Essence at the age of 26. Marcia Gillespie quickly proved her mettle by rapidly transforming the then fledging publication into one of the fastest growing women's magazines in the United States. During her tenure (1971-1980), Essence became a trusted source of inspiration, information, and affirmation for millions of African American women and won a National Magazine Award, the industry's most prestigious honor. A vice-president of Essence Communication, Inc., and a member of the board of directors, Gillespie was named "One of the Fifty Faces for American's Future by Time magazine.
Marcia Gillespie's association with Ms. magazine dates back to 1980 when she became a contributing editor, She then went on to become a featured columnist and the executive editor of Ms. before being named top editor in 1993. At Ms. her mission was "moving the discussion of feminism forward" and making the magazine a "welcome table" for a range of voices and views. Under her leadership the magazine reached an ever diverse readership, attracting increasing numbers of younger women to the fold. In addition to her role as editor in chief, Gillespie was named the President of Liberty Media for Women, a limited liability corporation comprised of women investors that purchased the magazine in November 1998 and successfully launched the publication in March 1999. To further secure the publication's future, Gillespie negotiated the magazine's transfer to the Feminist Majority Foundation in December 2000 and officially turned over the reins over in February 2001.
Gillespie's extensive knowledge about the national and international women's movements, issues of racial and gender justice, the media, and business, and her keen interest in history and observations about current events and the changes and challenges confronting the American society, and her deep faith in our ability to rise informs her life and her work.
A rousing, eloquent, and in-demand speaker, who brings both wit and wisdom to her talks, Gillespie regularly appears on university and college campuses and as a keynoter at conferences and events in the United States and abroad. In addition to her numerous public appearances, she maintains a thriving consultancy advising corporate and other clients on issues ranging from diversity to communications.
An award winning writer, Gillespie has also received a number of awards from professional and civic organization including the Matrix Award from New York Women in Communication, the Mary MacLeod Bethune award from the National Council of Negro Women. Awarded a Doctor of Letters by her alma mater, Lake Forest College, she is also a recipient of the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
Gillespie also serves as a member of the board of directors of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, the Violence Policy Center, and the Global Fund for Women.