Head of DeSantis’ Disney Board Praised Disney’s Diversity, Now Calls It “UnAmerican”

Glen Gilzean Disney Diversity
Glen Gilzean, Ron DeSantis, and Bob Iger in front of Cinderella's Castle

On August 1, The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District said that Disney would no longer be able to continue with its diversity, equality, and inclusion program. The Tourism Oversight District took over what was formerly the Reedy Creek Improvement District when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis dissolved the district. The governor then hand-picked those on the new board. None of the board appointees have prior experience working with theme parks.

Central Florid Tourism Oversight District

Credit: WKMG Orlando

Glen Gilzean — administrator of the CFTOD — said that the program was attempting to divide people and called Disney’s DEI initiatives “unAmerican”. Gilzean has worked closely with Governor DeSantis, even heading the governor’s ethics board. DeSantis has made his dislike of Disney very clear, and is currently being sued by the House of Mouse for retaliation. The new board has been very happy to follow in DeSantis’ footsteps in going after Disney.

Glen Gilzean Ron DeSantis

Credit: Central Florida Urban League

However, it appears that Gilzean didn’t always dislike Disney’s diversity programs. In fact, he really liked it, and even praised it. Two years ago, when Gilzean was head of the Central Florida Urban League, he dedicated an entire Instagram post to how great Disney’s DEI program was.

Much has been written in recent days about #WaltDisneyWorld and its incredible impact on #CentralFlorida.

Over the past 50 years, Walt Disney World has single-handedly turned our community into a worldwide destination and infused billions of dollars into our region while creating countless jobs. Yet, what often flies under the radar is #Disney’s efforts in the #community.

As the President and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League, I have experienced this first-hand on multiple occasions.

Disney continuously welcomes at-risk youth to their parks, free of charge, providing an experience that they could otherwise not be able to afford. Disney also routinely pairs local charities with popular events, such as their #runDisney series. Events like these infuse much needed funds to organizations, ensuring that we can continue to operate successfully.

As #education, #entrepreneurship, and #employment are the three pillars which guide the #CFUL, I am proud that Disney has expanded its efforts to help countless Black owned businesses and entrepreneurs through its supplier diversity program. They have also taken the lead in job training with their #DisneyAspire program, offering free college education to their hourly workers.

It takes everyone in our community to work together to end generational poverty and I am thankful that we have #Disney leading the way.

In Central Florida, Disney is intertwined in all of our lives and I truly believe we are all better for it.

On behalf of the Central Florida Urban League and our community, I would like to congratulate Walt Disney World on 50 years of #magic and making a difference: not just for their guests, but for all of us.

– Glenton Gilzean Jr.
President & CEO

When announcing that the board would not support Disney’s inclusion initiatives, they called Disney out for hiring and working with companies that were largely run by minorities. However, that is exactly what Gilzean praised Disney for in the past. So, it’s hard to tell where he stands. Does he really support ending the program, or is he supporting ending the DEI program because it is part of DeSantis’ “anti-woke” agenda?

Glen Gilzean

Credit: Agents of Change

The National Urban League that Gilzean was once a huge part of was quick to condemn his comments and actions.

“His rejection of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion principles is a rejection of the Urban League Movement and the pursuit of racial justice itself. We vigorously and emphatically reject any implied association with Mr. Gilzean’s current words or actions. His crass political expediency is all the more offensive given his previous vantage point to the harm he knows it will cause.” 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Gilzean is currently dealing with his own ethical issues. Gilzen is getting paid a whopping $400,000 to be the administrator of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. However, he is still serving as the Chairman of Florida’s Commission on Ethics. Having both positions is a clear ethics violation, according to law experts, and even the general counsel of the Ethics Commission.

Gilzean reached out to see if he was violating any laws, and was told that he is. He has not said what he plans to do, but the DeSantis appointee must either resign as Chairman of the Ethics Commission or resign as the head of the CFTOD.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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