Disney Parks Hires Former PayPal Legal Officer as New Chief Counsel for Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Fight

Shannen Ace

Disney Parks Hires Former PayPal Legal Officer as New Chief Counsel for Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Fight

Disney Parks, Experiences and Products has hired Louise Pentland, former Chief Business Affairs and Legal Officer at PayPal, as their new Chief Counsel reporting to Horacio Gutierrez, Senior EVP, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of The Walt Disney Company.

disney parks chief counsel

This is an exciting time to join The Walt Disney Company and I’m honored to be part of a business that brings so much joy to people across the globe — myself included.

As Chief Counsel for Disney Parks, Pentland will work on the company’s ongoing legal cases against the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Read the full press release from The Walt Disney Company about Pentland’s hiring below.

Louise Pentland Named Chief Counsel For Disney Parks, Experiences And Products

BURBANK, Calif., September 6, 2023 — Louise Pentland has been named Chief Counsel for the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products segment of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), effective September 15. Pentland, who previously served as Chief Business Affairs and Legal Officer at PayPal, will report to Horacio Gutierrez, Senior Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of The Walt Disney Company, and act as a strategic advisor to Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products and his executive leadership team.

In this role, Pentland will oversee all legal and regulatory matters for the segment’s businesses, including six theme park-resort destinations in the United States, Europe and Asia; a top-rated cruise line; a popular vacation ownership program; an award-winning guided family adventure business; and Disney’s global consumer products operations, which include the world’s leading licensing business across toys, apparel, home goods, digital games and apps; the world’s largest children’s print publisher; and the shopDisney e-commerce platform.

“Louise Pentland is a highly accomplished legal executive with more than two decades of experience serving at the highest levels of innovative global companies,” said Gutierrez. “Her broad expertise working with complex business, regulatory and compliance matters around the world and her track record as an exemplary leader make her a superb addition to the leadership team at Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.”

“This is an exciting time to join The Walt Disney Company and I’m honored to be part of a business that brings so much joy to people across the globe – myself included,” said Pentland. “I’ve long admired Disney Parks’ reputation as a global leader in tourism and consumer products, along with its exceptional history of innovation and growth, and I’m looking forward to taking on this role and helping advance the organization’s ambitious goals for the future.”

At PayPal, Pentland served most recently as EVP, Chief Business Affairs and Legal Officer, and was responsible for the company’s global People, Legal, Communications, Intellectual Property, Government Relations and Social Innovation functions, with oversight over all financial, regulatory and legal requirements worldwide. She led stakeholder engagement to promote PayPal’s reputation globally through corporate affairs initiatives and oversaw the company’s People function, including diversity and inclusion initiatives, workforce planning, employee relations, compensation, benefits, leadership excellence, culture, pro-bono initiatives and ESG.

Prior to PayPal, Pentland was Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer at Nokia Corporation, where she directed the company’s legal and government affairs functions, M&A and IP management, for which her team was named Europe’s most innovative in-house legal team by the Financial Times in 2011.

Pentland has served as a member of Hitachi Ltd.’s Board of Directors since 2015, Pacific Life’s Board of Directors since 2020 and Experian PLC’s Board of Directors since 2022. Additionally, she was named to the Board of Directors of the non-profit Black Executive CMO Alliance (BECA) in 2021.

Pentland holds an undergraduate law degree from Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice from Northumbria University. Pentland is licensed to practice law in the U.S., England, Wales and Europe.

Disney vs. Governor DeSantis & CFTOD

Ron DeSantis in front of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company initially clashed over the corporation’s opposition to a much-debated and controversial Florida law regarding classroom instruction and discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, alongside various other recent state laws and proposals in a similar vein.

Former CEO Bob Chapek initially remained silent and passive on the issue — until massive internal criticisms from Cast Members, the LGBTQ+ community, and controversy over Disney making hefty political contributions to campaigns and individuals allegedly against their own stated human principles came into focus.

After Chapek denounced the law, Governor DeSantis moved forward with various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the attempted dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Ultimately, the District was renamed and DeSantis appointed his own Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors.

Disney has gotten away with special deals from the state of Florida for way too long. It took a look under the hood to see what Disney has become to truly understand their inappropriate influence.

When the CFTOD Board attempted to declare Disney’s final agreements with RCID null and void, Disney filed a federal lawsuit against the Board and DeSantis, calling their actions a violation of their constitutional rights.

Magic Kingdom cinderella castle featured stock 8318 HDR

In the lawsuit, Disney cites “A targeted campaign of government retaliation—orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech—now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”

Disney regrets that it has come to this. But having exhausted efforts to seek a resolution, the Company is left with no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect its cast members, guests, and local development partners from a relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain State officials.

Central Florida Tourism Oversight District logo

The District then filed a state lawsuit against Disney and Disney is now countersuing on the state level, arguing that because RCID was never actually dissolved, the CFOTD is essentially the same entity and is going back on their word. Disney is essentially paying on both sides of their lawsuits.

Despite his many statements against Disney, DeSantis stated in August that he’s “moved on” from the issue and said Disney should drop their lawsuit. The District is currently seeking a stay in Disney’s lawsuit.

In early September, Disney sent letters to the office of Governor DeSantis and other state entities, stating they would pursue more lawsuits over the state not complying with public records requests.

For the latest Disney Parks news and info, follow WDW News Today on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.


  • Shannen Ace

    Shannen has been a Disney Parks fan and lover of dogs since childhood, despite Pluto's attempt to eat Shannen's Minnie Mouse doll the first time they met. They've made up now. You can email Shannen at shannen@wdwnt.com.

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