Disney corporate affairs exec out after just three months after mangling company’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ response
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
Disney’s newly hired chief corporate affairs officer is leaving the company after three months after the company took on significant criticism in how it addressed an anti-LGBTQ+ education law in Florida, where it has significant operations.
Geoff Morrell will depart Disney and the company is reversing course on a plan to consolidate select PR, HR and culture issues under a single executive who would then, in turn, report to CEO Bob Chapek.
The idea was that Morrell could serve as an intermediary between Chapek and these divisions and reduce his direct reports, but that is no longer the plan. Disney plans to use newly-hired former Biden administration official Kristina Schake to head up its communications team with other leadership roles for other functions staying in place.
Morrell got off to a rough start a Disney. In addition to accidentally leaking the opening date of a new park attraction while also tagging a non-official account on Twitter, he reportedly was behind Disney’s initial silence over Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill that could have sweeping effects on LGBTQ+ students and teachers in Florida’s schools.
That didn’t go over well with many employees, stockholders and fans, who decried the company’s lack of action in a state where its Walt Disney World Resort is one of the largest employers and adds billions to the local economy.
The company faced further backlash, this time from Republican lawmakers in the Sunshine State, who voted to revoke the special status the Reedy Creek Improvement District has that essentially allows it to self-govern but also makes Disney pay for millions of dollars worth of infrastructure construction and maintenance and other costs within its land. Disney has since indicated that Florida taxpayers may need help pay off the over $1 billion on bonds it issued using its RCID entity before it can be dissolved as called for by lawmakers — others have predicted the change could hike property takes for residents in the counties that house Disney property.
Morrell previously worked at ABC News as a correspondent before switching over to the corporate communications side. Previously roles included working at BP during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He had been preparing to move from London to Los Angeles for his new role, but had not done so, and reportedly took the chance to depart before uprooting his family.
Disney did not announce if Morrell will receive an exit package or, if so, what its value might be.