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Leadership Confusion as DeSantis Picks Key Loyalist to Lead Disney Board

Ron DeSantis new Disney CFTOD board leader
Credit: Disney/NBC Nightly News Report

It’s been just over a year since Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stripped Walt Disney World Resort of its right to self-govern and dissolved the Reedy Creek Improvement Act. The decision came after former Disney CEO Bob Chapek denounced the Parental Rights in Education Bill. Governor DeSantis had been a major proponent of the bill, but Chapek vowed to fight the legislation in court. Since then, things between Disney and Florida leadership have been strained, to say the least.

bob iger bob chapek

Credit: CBNC Interview

As part of ending Reedy Creek, DeSantis formed a new district — the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. He also hand-picked a board of loyalists to run the district. None of those men and women picked by DeSantis have any experience working in the theme park industry. And that includes CFTOD administrator, Glen Gilzean.

Glen Gilzean has worked with the controversial Florida Governor for years, with DeSantis appointing him to several positions within the government. And on March 4, Gov. DeSantis announced that Gilzean would be the new Orange County Supervisor of Elections. This would be on top of his job as the administrator of the CFTOD.

Glen Gilzean Ron DeSantis

Credit: Central Florida Urban League

Related: One Year Later: Ron DeSantis is STILL Fighting with Disney

There was a lot of backlash to the announcement, with many questioning its legality. Gilzean gave an interview and said that nothing in the law prevented him from doing both. If there were times that he was “unavailable” to do his job with the CFTOD, then Paula J. Hoisington would become the “Acting District Administrator.”

Glen Gilzean

Credit: Agents of Change

However, it looks like there is a chance Gilzean may not in fact hold both jobs at once. According to a new report from The Orlando Sentinel, Ron DeSantis plans to appoint Stephanie Kopelousos as the new CFTOD administrator.

The board, appointed entirely by DeSantis, still must approve it, but the governor’s office on Monday was already calling it a done deal.

“We are glad to see her step into this leadership role as the District embarks upon the next chapter in its efforts to ensure an even and transparent playing field for the businesses that operate in Central Florida,” said Bryan Griffin, communications director for the governor.

He said she “has extensive state and local government experience that make her the ideal candidate to take the reins at CFTOD.”

little mermaid ride at magic kingdom

Credit: Disney Parks

This was an interesting announcement, because, the last anyone knew, Gilzean was going to serve as both the Supervisor of Elections and the CFTOD administrator. The CFTOD admin job pays Gilzean $400,000 per year, and he will make just over $200,000 from his job as Supervisor of Elections.

Backlash From Picking Loyalists

As stated above, every board member on the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has no experience working in theme parks. And that remains true with the possible appointment of Stephanie Kopelousos.

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom with Walt and Mickey Partners Statue

Credit: Disney

Before being announced as DeSantis’ pick for new administrator, Kopelousos worked as a senior advisor on DeSantis’ failed presidential campaign. Before that, she served as Governor DeSantis’ senior advisor and director of legislative affairs.

Not long after the news became public, state Rep. Anna Eskamani — a Democrat from Orlando — released a statement.

“This is another example of a loyal team member of DeSantis being picked. This is just another political appointment of a friend to a well-paid position. She is definitely more qualified than Glen, but that is still setting a low bar.”

Glen Gilzean

Credit: Facebook/Glen Gilzean

She also said that, as long as DeSantis’ continued to try to gain complete authoritarian power in the state, the voters must continue to “demand transparency and accountability.”

Glen Gilzean’s Ethical Quandary

When Glen Gilzean was first made administrator of the CFTOD, he was also serving as the chairman of Florida’s Committee on Ethics. This was a big problem, because that was an ethical (and legal) violation of state law. Even more disturbing, Gilzean did not appear to know he was violating any ethics laws.

Lake Buena Vista no firefighters

Credit: Reedy Creek Improvement District

Gilzean reached out to legal counsel, who informed him that he was committing an ethics violation, and could only serve in one position. Gilzean then resigned from the Committee on Ethics.

Neither DeSantis nor Gilzean have commented on Stephanie Kopelousos becoming the new district administrator.

Do you think DeSantis should put someone in charge of the CFTOD who has experience in the theme park industry? Let us know in the comments!

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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