Disney World governing board set to pick a new District Administrator

Orlando, Florida, USA - February 9, 2022:  A Walt Disney World entrance arch gate in Orlando, Florida, USA. Walt Disney World is an entertainment resort complex.
There has been a lot of turnover lately at Disney World's government.

Disney World’s governing board is scheduled to vote this week to hire a former Gov. Ron DeSantis advisor as its next District Administrator.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) board meets Wednesday, with the meeting agenda including plans to pick Stephanie Kopelousos to oversee district operations.

The job is available because DeSantis appointed the district’s current Administrator, Glen Gilzean, to serve as Orange County Elections Supervisor.

The agenda does not show a proposed contract or propose Kopelousossalary amount. Gilzean’s pay was $400,000 a year. Wednesday’s meeting is the first time the board has met since Gilzean’s new appointment.

The board will also be short one member. Board Chair Martin Garcia, a Tampa lawyer who has been a staunch critic of Disney, is out. DeSantis has not yet named his replacement.

CFTOD is the state-controlled government that has been at the center of the DeSantis-Disney feud. The state passed a law last year that gives the Governor the power to pick members on the board, which handles infrastructure needs on land primarily making up Walt Disney World Resort. Disney previously held the power to choose its board.

Earlier this month, DeSantis’ Office touted Kopelousos’ background as DeSantis’ Senior Advisor and the Director of Legislative Affairs, as well as her eight years as Clay County Manager, in explaining why she is the right fit to lead the CFTOD.

“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 at the time in a statement.

“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.”

Democrats pushed back on DeSantis’ recommendation, accusing the Governor of rewarding his allies with government jobs.

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

The CFTOD meeting is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and is livestreamed here.

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 .


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