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Disney Elevates Sonia Coleman to Chief Human Resources Officer

Paul Richardson, the entertainment giant’s current head of HR, is departing after more than 15 years

Sonia Coleman has been tapped as the new chief human resources officer for the Walt Disney Company following the exit of Paul Richardson, who departs the company after more than 15 years.

In her new role, Coleman will will report directly to CEO Bob Iger and will be responsible for leading Disney’s human resources strategy, global talent acquisition, leadership development, diversity and inclusion, organizational design and cultural development, employee education and development, compensation and benefits, HR operations and technology, and global security.

Coleman will start in the new position effective April 8.

Coleman joined Disney in 2008 as a vice president of HR for Disney Consumer Products, a role she held for eight years. She most recently served as senior vice president of Human Resources for Disney Entertainment and ESPN, where she was responsible for employee development and engagement, recruitment and compensation, organizational development, and diversity, equity and inclusion efforts across ABC Entertainment, ABC News, ABC Owned Televisions Stations, Disney Branded Television, Disney Television Studios (20th Television, ABC Signature, 20th Television Animation and Walt Disney Television Alternative), Freeform, FX, Hulu Originals, National Geographic Content, and Onyx Collective.

“Sonia is widely respected across the company as a gifted leader and strong advocate for our employees,” Iger said in a statement. “Her proven expertise leading the human resources function for our general entertainment businesses and ESPN during a period of unprecedented transformation makes her the perfect choice to lead this function company-wide as we implement our new operating structure and position Disney to capitalize on the opportunities ahead.”

Iger also thanked Richardson for his years of service and contributions to ongoing company initiatives, including Disney’s Heroes Work Here veterans hiring program.

“It is truly an honor to be named to this role, and I am grateful for the confidence that Bob has placed in me,” Coleman said. “Disney is unrivaled because of the talent, dedication, and enthusiasm of our cast members and employees. They are the key to our success, and I look forward to being their greatest champion, in partnership with our exceptional HR teams around the world, as we move forward through the important company-wide transformation underway that will truly empower the people behind the magic of Disney.”

Coleman’s promotion comes as Iger has been making sweeping changes under a restructuring plan designed to cut $5.5 billion in costs. As part of the move, Disney is laying off approximately 7,000 employees.