Geoff Morrell, chief operating officer of The Walt Disney Co., will be leaving after just three months with the job “to pursue other opportunities,” Morrell and Disney CEO Bob Chapek told employees today. Friday.
“After three months in this new role, it became clear to me that for some reason the job was not a good fit,” Morrell told employees in an email.
The former BP executive and Bush-era Pentagon spokesman joined Disney earlier this year in a new role, including overseeing Disney’s government media relationships and public policy efforts.
All three of those areas have been tested in recent months, as the company navigates its response to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill. After initially arguing that Disney should remain as apolitical as possible, Chapek and company faced backlash from employees who felt that Disney did not have their backing.
Eventually, the company would voice its opposition to the bill, but by that point it was too late and was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis just weeks later. Once signed, Disney argued that it should be repealed or reversed in court.
That position in turn angered Republican lawmakers in the state, who passed a bill (which DeSantis also signed) revoking the Disney special around Walt Disney World.
Chapek told staff that Kristina Schake would lead future global communications, reporting to him, with government relations and public policy led by Disney general counsel Horacio Gutierrez. Schake joined Disney earlier this month, reports for Morrell.
Read Chapek’s email to staff below.
I am writing to share the news that Geoff Morrell, our Director of Corporate Affairs, is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities. Fortunately, the strength and experience of our current leadership team — including our relatively new all-star employees — means there’s no shortage of talent to guide functions that drive our reputation. we. With Geoff’s departure, I’m pleased to share the following changes:
First, Kristina Schake will lead the media efforts of The Walt Disney Company, as our Executive Vice President, Global Communications, reporting directly to me. In this expanded role, Kristina will oversee corporate and segment communications and continue to be our primary spokesperson. Our business and content communications contacts will continue to dual report to both division leadership and corporate communications, currently led by Kristina.
We are extremely fortunate to have Kristina with us at this important time. Her more than 30 years of experience includes roles leading President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine education program, media for Instagram, and leadership positions in Obama’s political campaigns and the White House. Kristina has a strategic approach and collaborative style, as well as an unwavering optimism and appreciation for our brand and its place in the world. These attributes will be invaluable as she works to protect and enhance our reputation, and I am delighted to be working more closely with her.
Next, Government Relations and Global Public Policy will be led by our General Counsel, Horacio Gutierrez. Since joining the company earlier this year, Horacio has fully integrated into the Disney family and has quickly become a key advisor to me and the leadership team on a variety of issues. His extensive experience in leading these areas will be immensely helpful in advancing our efforts.
In addition to her current direct reports, Susan Fox, Senior Vice President of Government Relations, and Yvonne Pei, Senior Vice President, External Affairs, Mainland China, will join Dorothy Attwood, Vice President Senior, Global Public Policy, reporting directly to Horacio.
Finally, Jenny Cohen, Executive Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, will now only report to me in a role leading our CSR and ESG efforts. Jenny is a strong leader and has done incredible work in modernizing our approach in key areas such as environmental sustainability, community investment and activism. benevolent.
I have great confidence in this team and look forward to working with them and all of our leadership to set Disney’s roadmap for the next 100 years of extraordinary experiences and entertainment.