Julie Townsend To Leave Post As ABC News Head Of Communications

Julie Townsend is departing ABC News after seven years leading their communications team.

Townsend will take a job outside the media business, but the position has not yet been disclosed. She will be with the network until May 14.

“Julie has been a steadfast and passionate champion of ABC News throughout her time here,” Derek Medina, the executive vice president of the news division, said in an email to staff.  “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.”

Shannon Ryan, president of marketing at ABC Entertainment & Disney Television Studios, and Charissa Gilmore, vice president of corporate communications for Disney General Entertainment, will help lead the team until a successor is named, Medina said.

Townsend said that she has “accepted an exciting new opportunity outside news to lead global consumer communications at an iconic American company.  I can’t tell you the details until it is officially announced, but I’m eager to just as soon as I can.”

“Working with all of you has been the most fun and most rewarding experience of my professional life,” she wrote in a note to staff.  “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.”

Kim Godwin, a former top executive at CBS News, was recently named the new president of the news division after James Goldston stepped down.

Townsend’s complete memo is below:

Team,

As you know, I always prefer to keep the spotlight on others – ideally, your great work and the incredible, tireless journalism being done straight across ABC News.

But today I have news about me.  I have accepted an exciting new opportunity outside news to lead global consumer communications at an iconic American company.  I can’t tell you the details until it is officially announced, but I’m eager to just as soon as I can.

Working with all of you has been the most fun and most rewarding experience of my professional life.  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.

I’ll be here until May 14.  I will leave confident in this team to carry on just as you always have.  You are an amazing group of generous, smart, kind and creative PR professionals – and your good humor, dedication and optimism inspires me daily.  I know you will continue to do incredible work. I’m personally grateful to Shannon Ryan and to Zenia Mucha for their support and mentorship.  I have been so lucky to learn from the very best in all my time here.

I wish Kim and all our leaders great success in this next chapter in ABC News’s 75 year history.  I will always be a cheerleader and believer in ABC News’s mission, purpose and people – as a member of the team for a few more weeks and as a lifelong viewer, listener, reader and fan after that.

Four presidential elections, countless game-changing interviews and headline-grabbing exclusives, over 100 personnel announcements, nearly 200 Daily Reads, 2 kids, 1 dog, 2 cats and #1 in the mornings, daytime, evenings, late night, prime time, weekends, special events, overnights, radio, streaming, social and podcasts.  It has been my great honor to serve ABC News and to be part of this incredible team working so hard to deliver news and information people can trust and rely on.  Thank you for every minute of it.

Julie

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