After less than four months on the job, Geoff Morrell is out as Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at The Walt Disney Company.
He joined Disney in January from a post as the executive vice president of communications and advocacy at oil and gas company BP. He replaced long-time Senior EVP and Chief Communications Officer Zenia Mucha, who retired after nearly twenty years with The Walt Disney Company.
But the past few months have seen the company battle issues internal and external, like the current tussle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over Reedy Creek, which have not made Morrell’s job easy.
Morrell sent out an email to his team Friday saying, “After three months in this new role, it has become clear to me that for a number of reasons it is not the right fit. After talking this over with Bob, I have decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities.”
His position will be split among two people:
Kristina Schake will lead The Walt Disney Company’s communications efforts, serving as the executive vice president of global communications reporting directly to Chapek. She joined the company in April 2022.
Horacio Gutierrez, who serves as Disney’s general counsel, will take over Morrell’s government relations and global public policy duties. He joined the company in February 2022.
The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Chapek also sent a memo out to staffers today announcing the departure, and the restructuring of the role.
Here is the full memo:
I am writing to share the news that Geoff Morrell, our Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities. Fortunately, the strength and experience of our existing leadership team—including relatively new all-star hires—means there is no shortage of talent to guide our reputation-driving functions. With Geoff’s departure, I am pleased to share the following changes:
First, Kristina Schake will lead The Walt Disney Company’s communications efforts, serving as our Executive Vice President, Global Communications reporting directly to me. In this expanded role, Kristina will have oversight for corporate and segment communications and continue to be our chief spokesperson. Our business segment and content communications leads will continue to dual report to both division leadership and corporate communications, now led by Kristina.
We are incredibly fortunate to have Kristina with us at this important time. Her 30-plus years of experience includes roles leading President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine education program, communications for Instagram, and leadership positions in political campaigns and the Obama White House. Kristina has a strategic approach and collaborative style, as well as relentless optimism and a strong appreciation of 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 thrilled to be working with her more closely.
Next, Government Relations and Global Public Policy will now be led by our General Counsel, Horacio Gutierrez. Since joining the company earlier this year, Horacio has integrated seamlessly into the Disney family, and has quickly become a valued advisor to me and the leadership team on a wide range of issues. His extensive experience leading these areas will be incredibly useful in driving our efforts.
In addition to his current direct reports, Susan Fox, Senior Vice President for Government Relations, and Yvonne Pei, Senior Vice President, External Relations, Greater China, will join Dorothy Attwood, Senior Vice President, Global Public Policy, in reporting directly to Horacio.
Finally, Jenny Cohen, Executive Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, will now report solely to me in her role leading our CSR and ESG efforts. Jenny is a strong leader, and has done incredible work modernizing our approach in key areas like environmental sustainability, community investment, and philanthropy.
I am incredibly confident in this team, and look forward to working with them and all of our leadership to set Disney’s course for the next 100 years of extraordinary entertainment and experiences.”