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Disney Junior ups D’Ambrosia, shuffles animation execs

The longtime creative exec has been promoted to general manager, three development VPs have new roles, and a diversity and inclusion position has been filled.
March 5, 2019

As part of an executive realignment that includes the accommodation of upcoming streaming service Disney+, Disney Junior’s SVP of original programming Joe D’Ambrosia (pictured) has been elevated to the role of GM for Disney Junior, a position previously held by Disney Channels Worldwide’s EVP of content and creative strategy Nancy Kanter.

In his new role, D’Ambrosia will oversee every extension of the Disney Junior experience on- and off-screen, and will continue to lead all development and production of Disney’s original programming content for kids ages two to seven, as well as preschool acquisitions. He will continue to report to Kanter.

Like Kanter, D’Ambrosia has been with Disney Junior since its inception in 2011, overseeing production and creative development of the channel’s first original movie Lucky Duck, in addition to TV series including Emmy-winning Sofia the First, Peabody winner Doc McStuffins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Elena of Avalor, Mickey and the Roadster Racers and Vampirina, among others.

He was instrumental in helping Disney Junior become the number-one preschool network from 2013 to 2018, according to Nielsen ratings, and last year led the development of Disney Junior Dance Party On Tour, the company’s popular 120-show live concert experience featuring songs and characters from Disney Junior’s top franchises.

The House of Mouse has also made additional moves to rejig its animated content development team including giving VPs of original programming Emily Hart and Alyssa Sapire more focused responsibilities. VP of creative affairs Hart, who previously oversaw series’ development of original and Disney heritage-based TV properties for kids two to seven and six to 11, will now focus on development for the six-to-11 demo. Since joining Disney in 2003, she has worked on Emmy Award-nominated Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Fancy Nancy, The Lion Guard, The 7D, Miles from Tomorrowland and Jake and the Never Land Pirates. In her new role, she will continue to report to Disney Channels’ recently hired SVP of animation strategy Meredith Roberts.

Sapire, meanwhile, will now zero in on Disney animated content for ages two to five after previously overseeing a slate of projects including Muppet Babies, Vampirina and the upcoming Monsters, Inc. series for Disney+. She will report to D’Ambrosia and continue to work closely with Roberts. Prior to Disney, she was VP of development and programming for FremantleMedia Kids & Family Group.

Shane Prigmore has also been promoted to VP of creative and artistic development, reporting to Roberts. Previously VP of creative affairs, in his new role he will lead creative development across animation for both the two- to-five and six-to-11 age groups. Prigmore joined the Disney fold in 2014 as co-executive producer on Tangled: The Series, before working his way up to VP of creative where he steered shows including DuckTales and the upcoming Amphibia.

All three execs will also lead the development of animated programming for Disney+, which is expected to launch in late 2019.

In a final promotion, Vicki Ariyasu has been named VP of Disney Channels educational resource group and diversity and inclusion, and will continue to report to Kanter. Prior to this new position, she spent five years as an educational consultant for Disney Junior and led the creation of the Disney Junior educational resource group in 2013. Its aim was to ensure all of the brand’s content integrates best practices in early childhood education and development. In her new role, she will ensure that Disney Channel programming continues to reflect and accurately depict today’s diverse world.

All of the changes were made under the guidance of Roberts.

About The Author
Jeremy is the Features Editor of Kidscreen specializing in the content production, broadcasting and distribution aspects of the global children's entertainment industry. Contact Jeremy at jdickson@brunico.com.

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