Gov. DeSantis adviser could run Disney World government as next Administrator

Stephanie Kopelousos flag
Stephanie Kopelousos' name was thrown out to replace Glen Gilzean.

Gov. Ron DeSantis recommended one of his top campaign advisers get the job as District Administrator for Walt Disney World’s government.

Stephanie Kopelousos would replace Glen Gilzean, who served as District Administrator for less than a year before DeSantis tapped him to fill the empty Orange County Elections Supervisor position.

“Stephanie has extensive state and local government experience that make her the ideal candidate to take the reins at Central Florida Tourism Oversight District,” said DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin. “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.”

DeSantis and Republicans have been at war with Disney which has sparked a state takeover of the Disney World government board and three lawsuits. The Legislature approved a law last year that gave DeSantis the power to appoint government board members, replacing Disney-chosen officials with DeSantis allies.

Griffin touted Kopelousos’ experience in government as making her the right fit for the new job.

“Stephanie has extensive state and local government experience that make her the ideal candidate to take the reins at CFTOD. She previously served as a Senior Advisor and the Director of Legislative Affairs for Governor DeSantis,” Griffin said in a statement. “Before that, she was the Clay County Manager for 8 years, and served as the Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation under Governor (Jeb) Bush.”

Rep. Anna Eskamani criticized DeSantis’ pick.

“Sad to see another DeSantis ally be recommended — this should be a competitive process based on merits, not friends,” said Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, on social media.

Eskamani also said she was glad Gilzean would not keep his district administrator job while also running the county elections.

Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart previously urged the Governor to appoint a local elected leader from Central Florida because that’s missing on the board, she said last week.

Disney World and CFTOD spokespeople did not immediately comment on Kopelousos when reached late Monday.

The CFTOD board hired Gilzean and set his pay at $400,000 at a meeting in May 2023. The District Administrator is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the utilities, emergency services and infrastructure of an area made up mostly by Walt Disney World Resort.

The board’s next scheduled meeting is March 27. CFTOD spokespeople did not say if the board would vote on Kopelousos at that meeting.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • Julia

    March 11, 2024 at 6:07 pm

    Earning $29,000. When you’re ready to give it some serious thought, start with some of the most respectable businesses that provide real work-from-home opportunities. In order to locate the ideal remote employment, ensure that the positions you apply for are affiliated with vc70 reputable businesses.

    Look at this…………………………..

  • Cheesy Floridian

    March 11, 2024 at 8:30 pm

    So is this the only local gov. In the state of Florida that the gov. Hand picks the people on it? The board members used to be elected now they are not. Why does DeSantis keep getting to hand pick people

    • The Answer

      March 12, 2024 at 8:43 am

      Why did Disney get to hand pick board members when it was Reedy Creek? It was the only local government in Florida where a corporation “elected” board members, and all the members were senior employees of Disney. At least now the appointments are made by elected officials, and they can be held accountable by voters.

      • Joe

        March 13, 2024 at 1:48 pm

        Reedy Creek administrators were elected by the entities that they were ultimately accountable to, the corporate and private residents of its district. Whereas now it’s pure cronyism by a vengeful little governor without any oversight. So yeah, there’s actually way less accountability now.

  • John Lentiini

    March 12, 2024 at 9:47 am

    One thing you can count on Ron DeSantis for: When he puts one of his cronies in a government position, he makes sure they are well-compensated. There’s no point in fighting culture wars unless there’s some big money in it.

  • Joe

    March 13, 2024 at 1:45 pm

    Grift and cronyism – it’s the Tiny D way.

  • jean solomon

    March 14, 2024 at 11:05 am

    way back in the day,,, grift and cronyism was the Republican cry of the day, against the Democrats..perhaps desantis is really an old timey DEMOCRAT?

Comments are closed.


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