Disney World’s government gets a new leader under same pay as predecessor

REEDY CREEK 5 (Large) (1)
Stephanie Kopelousos won the job Wednesday.

It’s a new era for Disney World’s government.

On the same day that the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board settled its state litigation with Disney, the board approved hiring Stephanie Kopelousos as the new District Administrator, effective immediately.

Kopelousos will get paid $400,000 annually, the same salary as her predecessor, the board said during its meeting.

“Stephanie comes to the district with a distinguished career of public service to our state,” said board member Charbel Barakat. “She has a reputation for being experienced and honorable in public service and an honest broker.”

Kopelousos is Gov. Ron DeSantis’ former Senior Advisor and the Director of Legislative Affairs and had been the Clay County Manager for eight years.

Speaking to her new bosses, Kopelousos said she was experienced in infrastructure, emergency services and budgeting.

“But I think two key things that are part of my core are my work ethic, and the ability to build coalitions,” Kopelousos said.

Kopelousos landed the new job with DeSantis’ backing after the Governor appointed the former District Administrator, Glen Gilzean, to the open job as Orange County Elections Supervisor. Longtime Elections Supervisor Bill Cowles retired before the end of his elected term, which triggered the shuffle.

“I’m honored to be considered for this position. I’m also grateful that the governor thought enough for me to recommend me for this position,” Kopelousos said.

Listening in was the tourism oversight board’s newest member, Orlando businessman Craig Mateer, who was appointed by DeSantis the day before.

Mateer did not make any remarks at the meeting.

Mateer replaces board chair Martin Garcia, a staunch Disney critic who led the board during its inaugural year under the state’s control.

The board members, who are not paid, oversee the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, an obscure but important government that handles the emergency services and infrastructure needs for land primarily covering Walt Disney World Resort.

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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