Disney adds General Motors CEO Mary Barra to its board of directors

General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra speaks June 13, 2017, at GM's Orion Assembly in Lake Orion, Mich.
General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra speaks June 13, 2017, at GM’s Orion Assembly in Lake Orion, Mich.
(Jose Juarez / AP)

The Walt Disney Co. is adding a high-octane name to its board of directors.

Mary Barra, the chief executive of General Motors, has been elected to the Burbank-based entertainment giant’s board, joining the leaders of Nike and Twitter to bring the total number of board members to 12.

For the record:

1:50 a.m. Nov. 28, 2021A previous version of this story said Orin Smith was of Starbucks. He left the company in 2005.

Disney announced Thursday that Barra’s appointment is effective immediately. Robert Iger, the company’s CEO, serves as board chairman. “Beyond being an incredibly respected leader of a major U.S. company, Mary is recognized as an agent of change with a relentless focus on quality, safety and, most importantly, consumers,” he said in a statement.

“Her ability to adapt to a changing technological and consumer-focused landscape makes her uniquely suited for the Disney board.”


Barra’s appointment comes as Disney continues its search for a successor to Iger, who earlier this year extended his contract with the company to 2019.

The Disney board also includes Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, as well as Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook. Other directors include Mark Parker, who heads Nike, and Orin Smith, formerly of Starbucks.

Barra began her career at GM in 1980 when she was still a student. She rose through the ranks of the Detroit-based auto giant and became CEO in 2014. She was elected chairman last year.

“GM has worked together with Disney on a number of projects over the years, and I look forward to helping contribute to the company’s ongoing success as the world’s premier entertainment and media enterprise,” she said in a statement.

Among the recent projects that the two companies have collaborated on is the Test Track attraction at Epcot at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. The interactive ride is presented by GM’s Chevrolet.

Barra and Iger both had been members of the White House’s strategic and policy forum, which recently was disbanded after members quit in protest of President Trump’s statements concerning race-related clashes in Charlottesville, Va.

Iger quit his position in June over Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT