The scheduled departures of two top corporate officers will coincide with Bob Iger’s exit from Disney executive chairman after more than 45 years with Disney and ABC. Iger served as CEO for 15 years before segueing to executive chairman in February 2020, when Bob Chapek was tapped as CEO. Without question, the exits of Mucha and Braverman will allow Chapek to put more of his stamp on the company’s top corporate ranks.
Mucha, senior executive VP and chief communications officer, has been Disney’s chief spokesperson since 2002, during the last years of Michael Eisner’s tenure as CEO. She joined the company the year before as head of communications for ABC. Braverman, senior executive VP, general counsel and secretary, joined ABC in 1993 and moved to Disney as general counsel a decade later.
Mucha is known for her full-throated advocacy for all things Disney and her sometimes pugnacious approach to dealing with reporters in the hunt for a story.
“Alan and Zenia have made an indelible impact on the Company, playing integral roles in Disney’s expansion and transformation into the digital age while cementing its reputation as one of the world’s most highly regarded companies,” Iger and Chapek wrote in a joint email. “Alan, from a legal and regulatory perspective, and Zenia, from a strategic communications perspective, have played a pivotal role in many of the Company’s most transformative business deals, projects, and strategic initiatives, including the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox, the establishment of the Company’s first theme park in Mainland China, Shanghai Disney Resort, the launch of our direct-to-consumer business with Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, and Star, as well as various environmental and philanthropic endeavors.”
Mucha and Braverman echoed the sentiments of many long-serving executives these days in noting that the pandemic experience made the focus on priorities long pushed off because of work commitments.
“For many of us, the challenges of living and working in an era of lockdowns and quarantines brought an unexpected hidden blessing: the opportunity to gain new perspective about what’s truly ‘essential,’ what matters most, and how we each want to move forward in light of these insights,” Mucha wrote in a note to Disney staffers. “And after thinking about my own life, I was surprised by the realization that, after a long career in roles that have required a 24/7 commitment, what I want most these days is the freedom to focus on other priorities – all the things I always wanted to do with family and friends but simply never had time for.”
Braverman expressed similar sentiment in his note.
“Recently, I have thought more and more about what life after Disney might look like for me – what my days would entail if they were shaped by the pursuit of personal interests that so often get deferred due to the press of work,” he wrote. “To be honest, the thought of having more free time to explore other opportunities and activities is a proposition that is as scary as it is exhilarating. But it is the inevitable next chapter and, in the end, I decided now is the right time in my life to make the transition.”
There’s no word yet on successors for Mucha and Braverman.
Before joining Disney, Mucha worked in politics as communications chief to then-New York Gov. George Pataki. She also worked for former New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato.
Braverman was a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Wilmer, Cutler and Pickering before signing on with Capital Cities/ABC.
Here is the full memo from Bob Iger and Bob Chapek:
Dear Fellow Employee,
Disney’s many accomplishments over its nearly century-long history have been the result of teamwork from a cadre of great people, whose talents, wisdom, and hard work have enabled the Company to soar to commercial and creative heights. And few have had greater impact as members of this world-class team than Alan Braverman, our General Counsel, and Zenia Mucha, our Chief Communications Officer. We were both fortunate to work closely with Alan and Zenia for more than two decades, and are enormously grateful for their partnership, invaluable advice, and friendship—which is why it is bittersweet to share the news that they have decided to retire from the Company after their contracts expire at the end of 2021.
Alan and Zenia have made an indelible impact on the Company, playing integral roles in Disney’s expansion and transformation into the digital age while cementing its reputation as one of the world’s most highly regarded companies. Alan, from a legal and regulatory perspective, and Zenia, from a strategic communications perspective, have played a pivotal role in many of the Company’s most transformative business deals, projects, and strategic initiatives, including the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and 21st Century Fox, the establishment of the Company’s first theme park in Mainland China, Shanghai Disney Resort, the launch of our direct-to-consumer business with Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, and Star, as well as various environmental and philanthropic endeavors.
As General Counsel, Alan has served as our chief legal officer, overseeing a team of attorneys responsible for all aspects of the Company’s legal affairs around the world, including public policy and government relations. Since joining Disney in 1995 as part of the Capital Cities/ABC acquisition, he has developed and directed the Company’s legal strategy. Equally important, he has been a key advocate of Disney’s inclusion efforts, implementing programs to recruit and promote diverse legal talent. Alan is also a champion of skills-based volunteerism and launched a pro bono program under which Disney lawyers have donated more than 20,000 hours to efforts serving a variety of underrepresented communities.
Zenia has been the Chief Communications Officer since 2002, responsible for overseeing all global communications for the Company and its business segments. Among her innumerable contributions, she oversaw the creation of the first-ever official Disney fan club, D23, which now serves more than one million members in all 50 states and 100 countries. She also launched the bi-annual D23 Expo: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event, and the award-winning quarterly magazine, Disney twenty-three. Because of her, the Company has a strong, enduring network of support from fans worldwide.
One of the most rewarding aspects of our tenure at Disney has been the opportunity to work with so many incredibly talented and generous people, and Zenia and Alan are foremost among them—both have been steadfast, independent-minded, passionate about their work, generous with their wisdom, and thoroughly unselfish. There will be opportunities to celebrate them and their storied careers before they depart early next year. But, given the tremendous impact they have had, we wanted to take this opportunity in the wake of their decision to thank them personally for their singular contributions to our Company and, most important, for their support and friendship.
Bob Iger and Bob Chapek