Amid messaging war with DeSantis over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, Disney adds former Biden aide Kristina Schake to team

Schake led President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine-education efforts as counselor to the secretary for strategic communications in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Schake also worked for former California first lady Maria Shriver.
Schake also worked for former California first lady Maria Shriver.

BURBANK, CA: The Walt Disney Company hired former Biden administration communications aide Kristina Schake as EVP of global communications this month as it dealt with internal and external fallout from its reaction to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. 

Schake is reporting to chief corporate affairs officer Geoff Morrell. She is responsible for the company’s worldwide communications strategy and operations and is also serving as its lead spokesperson, Disney said in a statement. 

Disney’s long-standing chief communications officer and EVP, Zenia Mucha, stepped down at the end of 2021. Many of Mucha’s responsibilities were taken over by Morrell, who is a former Pentagon press secretary and ABC News White House correspondent.

Before joining Disney, Schake led President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine-education efforts as counselor to the secretary for strategic communications in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Before that, Schake was Instagram’s global comms director, communications director for former first lady Michelle Obama and deputy comms director for former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Schake was also senior comms strategist for former California first lady Maria Shriver, the California Women’s Conference and the California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities Initiative.

Schake could not be reached for comment.

Disney is facing internal and external pressures over its opposition to Florida’s "Don't Say Gay" law, which bans instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten to third grade. The company initially took heat from employees for not taking a public position on the bill. Disney employees walked out last month to protest CEO Bob Chapek's response, putting a spotlight on the usually tight-lipped corporate culture at the company. Disney later issued a statement vowing to work to repeal the legislation, which has since been signed into law.

In response, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has suggested that a 55-year-old special district that gives the company self-governing powers around Walt Disney World should be rolled back. DeSantis blamed “California executives,” and said Disney “crossed the line” by opposing the bills, vowing, “We’re going to make sure we’re fighting back when people are threatening our parents and threatening our kids.”

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