By: Hadassa Kalatizadeh
Dana Walden is not just the Chairwoman of Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment, she is also one of the top fifty most influential Jews.
On September 18, the Jerusalem Post published its annual list of the year’s most influential Jews, and Walden was ranked as number 19. The 55-year old Los Angeles native formerly served as chairperson at Fox Television Group, attaining her current position after Disney’s $71.3 billion purchase of a large chunk of 21st Century Fox. She now leads the entertainment industry, heading 20th Century Fox Television, Fox 21 TV Studios and ABC Studios, which together received a total of 47 Emmy Award nominations this year. As per The Jerusalem Post, Walden’s massive rebranded Disney Television Studios currently produces the Number 1 scripted series on 10 networks.
Walden is not a newbie at being recognized as a leader. She has been awarded numerous honors including being ranked number 53 in The Forbes’s list of the World’s most powerful Women in 2016. Despite her success, Walden has not forgotten her roots. In a 2017 interview in Jerusalem, when asked who she would contact past or present if she could, she immediately said “I would call my Grandma Rose,” referring to Rose Freedman, her maternal grandmother.
Walden is active in philanthropic work, including serving on the board of the Los Angeles Zoo. She has also been a generous donor to the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, which successfully treated her mother. In 2015, Walden was given the National Champion for Children Award by The Alliance for Children’s Rights. Walden is married to former Arista Records executive Matt Walden and they have two daughters.
Walden has long been a champion for empowering women and has spoken about the challenge of advancing professionally in a male-dominated industry. Last year, at Variety’s Power of Women event she said, “It’s impossible to overstate the importance to young women how important it is to see female leaders.”
At the head of the Top Fifty Influential Jews list was Jared Kushner, who was instrumental in brokering the recent Israeli Peace deal, and four other members of the peace deal, followed by Belgium’s first Jewish Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès , who made 5th place in the list.