ABC News Loses Communications Head as New President Arrives

George PaulPeople on the Move
Julie Townsend

Julie Townsend. Image Courtesy of ABC News

After almost 7 years on the job, Julie Townsend announced she will step down as the Head of Communications for Disney’s ABC News on May 14, according to a report by Deadline.

While the company searches for her successor ABC Entertainment & Disney Television Studios’s President of Marketing, Shannon Ryan, and Disney General Entertainment’s VP of Corporate Communications, Charissa Gilmore, will lead the ABC News’ communications team.

The move comes at an inopportune time for ABC News as it is just a week after the broadcast news network named Kimberly Godwin as its new President. Godwin is set to begin her tenure in early May.

Townsend is leaving her post to lead global consumer communications at a yet-to-be-named “iconic American company.” The exact details of her next role will be detailed in an upcoming staff memo.

In her announcement to her staff, Townsend reportedly said, “This was not an easy decision to make, especially knowing a new president of ABC News will start in a few weeks. But one of the things I’ve loved about working in news is the opportunity to learn new things – and now, after the last decade at ABC News and 14 at the company overall, I have the chance to learn a whole new business in an entirely different industry. It was simply too good and fascinating an opportunity to pass up.”

Townsend is a veteran media communications executive and has been in the industry since she started her career as a PR coordinator with ABC in 2001. She went on to work in the corporate communications department at NBCUniversal before returning to ABC News in 2011.

“Julie has been a steadfast and passionate champion of ABC News throughout her time here,” ABC News EVP Derek Medina said. “She’s helped launch new programs and strategic initiatives, celebrate every important milestone in the news division and been a trusted advisor to me and so many of us.”

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