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Disney Junior Ups Joe D’Ambrosia to GM; Realigns Key Animation Roles

Joe D'Ambrosia. Photo credit: Disney Channel/Bob D'Amico
Joe D'Ambrosia. Photo credit: Disney Channel/Bob D'Amico

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Disney Junior Ups Joe D’Ambrosia to GM; Realigns Key Animation Roles

Joe D’Ambrosia has been promoted to General Manager, Disney Junior, broadening his current role of Senior Vice President, Original Programming, and rounding out another benchmark period of growth for the preschooler brand. He will now oversee all extensions of the Disney Junior experience on- and off-screen, and will continue to be responsible for all development and production of Disney’s original programming content for kids 2-7 as well as acquisitions for the preschooler demographic.

The announcement of his promotion was made today by Nancy Kanter, Executive Vice President, Content and Creative Strategy, Disney Channels Worldwide, to whom he continues to report.

A highly-regarded creative executive, D’Ambrosia joined Disney in 2011 and played a crucial role in steering Disney Junior channel to be the #1 preschooler network for the past six years (2013-18). In 2018, he led the development of a 120-show tour, “Disney Junior Dance Party on Tour,” the first of its kind for Disney Junior. It was nominated for a Pollstar Award honoring top achievers in live entertainment.

Furthering Disney’s investment in the Development team for animated content, Kanter also announced the realignment of key roles under the leadership of Meredith Roberts, Senior Vice President, Animation Strategy, and a fourth role that will continue Disney’s commitment to diverse programming while further strengthening Disney Junior’s learning-focused programming.

Emily Hart, Vice President, Original Programming, will lead development on Disney animated content for kids 6-11. Hart joined Disney in 2003 and oversaw the Emmy Award-nominated Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Fancy Nancy, The Lion Guard, The 7D, Miles from Tomorrowland and Jake and the Never Land Pirates. She will report to Roberts.

Alyssa Sapire, Vice President, Original Programming, will spearhead Disney animated content for kids 2-5. Since joining Disney Junior in 2016, she shepherded hits including Muppet Babies and Vampirina and the upcoming Monsters, Inc. series. Prior to Disney, she was Vice President, Development and Programming for FremantleMedia Kids & Family Group, overseeing both live-action and animated series. She will report to D’Ambrosia and work closely with Roberts.

Shane Prigmore, Vice President, Creative and Artistic Development, will lead creative development across animated programming for both kids 2-5 and kids 6-11 demographics. The Annie Award winner joined Disney in 2014 to develop and serve as co-executive producer on Tangled: The Series before moving into the role of Vice President, Creative, shepherding shows including DuckTales and the upcoming Amphibia. His credits include The Iron Giant, The LEGO Movie, How to Train Your Dragon and Coraline. He will report to Roberts.

Vicki Ariyasu has been appointed Vice President, Educational Resource Group, and Diversity and Inclusion, Disney Channels. She joined the company in 2013 and led the formation of the Disney Junior Educational Resource Group to ensure all content incorporates the best practices in early childhood education and development. She also helped establish the Disney Junior Advisory Board, a council of prominent academics that further guides Disney Junior’s curriculum. She will continue to report to Kanter.

“It’s more important than ever that the people we have leading our creative and strategic content development are the best in the business and that they are empowered to seek out the most exciting talent and innovative storytelling. Joe has been integral in growing the Disney Junior brand and establishing our position as the #1 preschool network. His impeccable instincts for story and character along with a genuine interest in impacting the lives of young children make him the perfect person for me to hand over the reins and lead us into the next stage for Disney Junior,” said Kanter.

“Emily, Alyssa and Shane share a genuine commitment to outstanding storytelling and they’re each widely-regarded by the creative community. Vicki is a trusted resource who we will rely on to ensure our programming continues to reflect and accurately depict our diverse world. With these leaders and their teams in place I am excited to move into the next phase of our business and content development.”

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