ABC News Names Julie Townsend to Lead Communications

ABC News said Julie Townsend would take oversight of the unit’s public relations and communications duties as longtime  communications consigliere Jeffrey Schneider prepares to depart the Walt Disney unit to start an independent public relations and crisis management consultancy. The new duties become effective after Election Day November, when Schneider will officially depart.

Schneider, known for maintaining an aggressive management style,  has had a hand in communicating such big TV events as the rise of ABC’s “Good Morning America” in the ratings to the wounding of Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt  in January of 2006. He was briefly suspended last summer after a verbal spat with a colleague. He will retain ABC News and the Disney ABC Television Group are the first clients of his new venture, Schneider Global Strategy, which will be based in New York.

Townsend, who has worked tirelessly for ABC News in any number of matters,  has been with the unit as its vice president of communications since 2011. Prior to that, she worked with NBCUniversal in its corporate communications department. Townsend started her career with ABC as a PR coordinator for “Nightline” and “This Week” in the ABC News Washington Bureau in 2001.

Townsend has “collaborated with many of you on some of our biggest initiatives.  She shepherded us through the launch of our game-changing partnerships with Yahoo and Fusion and has helped build anticipation for our biggest specials and interviews by driving extensive press coverage,” ABC News President James Goldston said in a memo to staffers Monday. “Time and again Julie has shown her versatility, determination and dedication to ABC News.  She has proven herself a leader and as a valuable adviser to so many of us – helping us navigate every issue with a steady hand. “

She will report to Kevin Brockman, executive vice president of global communications for Disney ABC Television Group.

A lifelong resident of New York City, Schneider graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  Prior to ABC New,s Schneider worked at the William Morris Agency, Hachette Filipacchi Magazines and Rubenstein Associates He began his career in New York state government.

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