Debra OConnell is president of Networks for Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution (DMED). In her role, Debra oversees operational leadership including P&L oversight of all of the Company’s linear television channels, as well as business planning, network/channel commercial marketing, and audience strategy for the ABC broadcast network and eight ABC Owned stations, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN Networks, FX Networks, Freeform and National Geographic Networks. She also oversees content requirements and programming budgets for each of the channels, working closely with the company’s creative content teams while also leading acquisition strategy for second-run and library content across Disney’s portfolio of channels in partnership with the company’s streaming services.
At the company for over 20 years, Debra most recently served as president and general manager of ABC7/WABC-TV New York, the most-watched station in the country. She had overall management responsibility for the station and all of its ancillary businesses; as well as “Live with Kelly and Ryan.” Under her leadership, the long-running hit syndicated series became the No. 1 daytime talk show for the first time in franchise history. In 2020, Debra was recognized by Radio Television Business Report as a Top Local TV Leader.
Debra is a seasoned executive with broad business acumen and deep operational experience. In her previous executive roles, she served as executive vice president, Sales and Marketing, of Disney|ABC’s consolidated advertising sales group; president, National TV Sales, ABC Owned Television Station; and vice president of marketing at WABC-TV.
Debra is the chairman of the International Radio & Television Society (IRTS), a well-respected industry organization that focuses on mentorship, access, education and diversity. She is on the board of directors for the TVB and The Broadway Association, and serves on the advisory board for the Ryan Seacrest Foundation and League Women Voters of New York City. Additionally, Debra is an active participant in The Walt Disney Company’s VoluntEARS program, which includes a variety of efforts with charities including The Boys & Girls Clubs, back-to-school and holiday support for families in need, conservation and many more. She was honored with the Executive Champion Award for her vigorous support and involvement. She also enjoys supporting many charitable initiatives across a variety of children associated events and causes including St. Jude's Hospital and programs like Sade Baderinwa's Get Reel Foundation. Debra also serves as a mentor, which is one of the most gratifying parts of her career – to be able to give back, provide insight and guidance while watching amazing talent and individuals with possibility grow.
She graduated summa cum laude from Dowling College with a Bachelor of Science in professional studies and a major in marketing.