Walt Disney Co. announced, Thursday, that Susan E. Arnold is going to succeed Robert Iger as chairperson of the board.
The decision, effective December 31st, marks the first time a woman holds the position at the company.
Arnold, a 14-year member of the Disney board, is set to draw upon her experience in executive positions at Procter & Gamble and the Carlyle Group and as a director of McDonald‘s as she assumes a lead role in navigating one of the world’s largest media companies.
Iger, who was CEO from 2005 to 2020, expanded Disney’s profile dramatically through a series of acquisitions that included Pixar Animation and Marvel Entertainment. In 2020, he was succeeded as CEO by Bob Chapek.
The early stages of the Covid pandemic took a toll on Disney as theme parks and theaters were shuttered, though they have mostly reopened. The company has recently focused on streaming services and making its content culturally relevant.
Moreover, it has sought to redefine how its female characters act and behave, trading damsels in distress for independent, strong, and diverse characters that celebrate female ambition.
For example, “Mulan” which introduced a character who disguises herself as a man, turning the “knight-in-shining-armor” trope on its head as she saves male characters.
More recent Disney characters such as Merida, in the film Brave, and Moana are strong personalities as well and are, notably, without love interests. Even Cinderella, in its latest iteration, is determined to chart her own destiny.