The Walt Disney Family Museum’s Advisory Committee is made up of extraordinary individuals, each with a substantial list of remarkable personal and professional achievements. Their combined insight, experience, and vision provide important strategic guidance for the museum in carrying out its mission and expanding its outreach and impact. Constituted in April 2015 to complement the museum’s Board of Directors, the Advisory Committee comprises the following distinguished members:
Andreas Deja first applied for a job as a Disney animator at the age of 10. Born in Poland and raised in Germany, he recalls writing The Walt Disney Studios immediately after seeing The Jungle Book. The Studios wrote back to Andreas explaining that there were no openings, but they were always on the lookout for new talent. At the age of 20, Andreas applied again and was accepted. Andreas began his Disney career working with Eric Larson, one of the legendary Nine Old Men, and went on to work on animated films such as The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective, Oliver & Company, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Andreas oversaw the animation of Triton in The Little Mermaid, Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, Jafar in Aladdin, Scar in The Lion King, Mickey Mouse in Runaway Brain, the title character in Hercules, and Lilo in Lilo & Stitch. In 2007 Andreas was honored with the Winsor McKay Award from the International Animated Film Association and was named a Disney Legend in 2015. The Walt Disney Family Museum celebrated Andreas’ prolific career with the exhibition Deja View: The Art of Andreas Deja in 2017.
Pete Docter is the Oscar®-winning director of Monsters, Inc. (2001), Up (2009), and Inside Out (2015), and Chief Creative Officer at Pixar Animation Studios. Starting at Pixar in 1990 as the studio’s third animator, Docter collaborated with John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton in developing the story and characters for Toy Story (1995), Pixar’s first full-length animated feature film, for which he also was supervising animator. He served as a storyboard artist on A Bug’s Life (1998), and wrote initial story treatments for both Toy Story 2 (1999) and WALL•E (2008). Aside from directing, Docter also executive produced Monsters University (2013) and the Academy Award®-winning Brave (2012). Upon joining Pixar, he animated and directed several commercials, and has been nominated for eight Academy Awards® including Best Animated Feature-winners Up and Inside Out and nominee Monsters, Inc., and Best Original Screenplay for Up, Inside Out, and WALL•E. In 2007, Up also was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar® by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Dave Goelz has been a principal puppeteer with The Muppets for forty-three years. His characters include The Great Gonzo, Bunsen Honeydew, Zoot, Beauregard, and Waldorf, among many other Jim Henson Company creations. Goelz first started working for Henson Associates in 1973 as a puppet designer and builder and periodically had the opportunity to perform. The first highly-successful characters that he built were Animal, Zoot, and Floyd Pepper. Despite the fact that he had no formal training for puppeteering, he went on to perform as Zoot, the blue-haired saxophone player from The Muppet Show’s house band, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. He eventually stopped building puppets and now works exclusively as a performer.
Don Hahn is producer of the worldwide phenomenon The Lion King and the classic Beauty and the Beast, the first animated film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar®. Don is Executive Producer of the acclaimed Disneynature films Earth, Oceans, African Cats and Chimpanzee and Disney’s Maleficent starring Angelina Jolie. Don’s other credits include The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Atlantis, Fantasia 2000, and The Emperor’s New Groove. Don’s books on animation, art, and creativity include the bestseller Brain Storm, the acclaimed educational series Drawn To Life: The Complete Works of Walt Stanchfield and Before Ever After: The Lost Lectures of Disney’s Animation Studio. Don also serves on the Board of Directors of PBS SoCal and produced The Walt Disney Family Museum’s first fundraising gala in 2015.
James Higa is the Executive Director of Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, a non-profit community foundation dedicated to advancing new ideas in philanthropy. He is also the co-founder and managing partner of Offline Ventures, a venture capital fund that invests in startups in Web3, personal health, and consumer tech. He has advised and mentored numerous companies, including Airbnb, Siemens, and UNIQLO, to help think creatively and address leadership challenges. Higa previously spent over two decades reporting directly to and working alongside Steve Jobs at Apple and NeXT to help change the face of technology and entire consumer industries. He volunteers his time and serves on the boards of many organizations, including the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and Stanford University Libraries. His previous board work includes the Recording Academy MusiCares Foundation and the Haas Center for Public Service.
A 38-year veteran of Walt Disney Animation Studios, Glen Keane is most noted for animating such legendary Disney characters as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Pocahontas, the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, and Tarzan. Keane also served as Supervising Animator and Executive Producer on Disney’s 2010 box office hit Tangled. In 2012, Keane left Disney to launch Glen Keane Productions and has since gone on to collaborate with Google, the Paris Ballet, Riot Games, and Green Egg Media. In 2017, Keane’s Dear Basketball, a collaboration with Kobe Bryant and John Williams, won the Academy Award® for Best Animated Short Film. Keane is the recipient of ASIFA-Hollywood’s 2008 Winsor McCay Award for Lifetime Achievement in Animation, the 2012 Tex Avery Award, and was a 2013 Disney Legend Award honoree for his contribution in Animation.
Chris Kelly is a Silicon Valley attorney who represents innovative companies on privacy, security, safety, and regulatory affairs. As the first Chief Privacy Officer, General Counsel, and Head of Global Public Policy for Facebook, Chris helped the company grow from its college roots to the ubiquitous communications medium that it is today. Chris left Facebook in 2009 to seek the Democratic nomination for Attorney General of California, garnering 16 percent of the vote in a seven-way race, his first run for statewide office. Since the June 2010 primary, Chris has become an active angel investor in companies seeking transformational improvements in technology, media, and finance.
John Lasseter is head of Skydance Animation and previously maintained creative oversight of all films and associated projects from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, and Disneytoon Studios, and worked closely with Walt Disney Imagineering. John made his directorial debut in 1995 with Toy Story, the world’s first feature-length computer-animated film. John also directed A Bug’s Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), Cars (2006), and Cars 2 (2011). John has executive produced all Pixar features since Monsters, Inc. (2001). To date, Pixar’s films have earned more than $8.5 billion in gross box-office receipts. Since assuming creative oversight of Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2006, John has served as executive producer on all of its feature films and serves as Executive Producer for Disneytoon Studios’ films. In his role as Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering, John was instrumental in bringing Radiator Springs to life with the successful 2012 launch of Cars Land, a massive 12-acre expansion of Disney California Adventure Park. Prior to the formation of Pixar in 1986, John was a member of the computer division of Lucasfilm Ltd. John was part of the inaugural class of the character animation program at California Institute of the Arts and received his bachelor of fine arts in film in 1979.
He was awarded with the Diane Disney Miller Lifetime Achievement Award by The Walt Disney Family Museum in 2017.
Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. Leonard is best known for his widely-used reference works, Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, as well as his 30-year run on Entertainment Tonight. Leonard teaches at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, appears regularly on Reelz Channel, and hosts the weekly podcast Maltin on Movies with Baron Vaughn for the Wolfpop network. Leonard served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. Leonard hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on numerous television programs and documentaries. Leonard has been the recipient of awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, George Eastman House, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International.
Janet Reilly is the co-founder and board president of Clinic by the Bay, a free, volunteer-powered health clinic for the working uninsured in San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. In 2015, Janet was appointed to the Presidio Trust board of directors by President Barack Obama, where she served as vice-chair until she completed her service in 2018.
Reilly began her professional career as a broadcast journalist before transitioning into corporate public affairs, managing the public relations division of a national retailer. She also produced and hosted The Mix with Janet Reilly, a news magazine show that aired on NBC Bay Area. Today, she and her husband own the Nob Hill Gazette, where she writes a monthly interview column featuring some of the Bay Area’s most interesting political, business, and philanthropic leaders.
She is deeply involved in her community, currently serving on the board of directors for Dignity Health Foundation, Seton Medical Center’s Local Governing Board and the Advisory Board for the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at the University of San Francisco. She holds a BA from UCLA and a master’s degree in Journalism from Medill at Northwestern University.
Cynthia Rowland, a partner in the Farella Braun + Martel LLC San Francisco office, focuses on charitable giving arrangements and complex structures, as well as a wide variety of business transactions for nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Cynthia serves on the Board of Directors for Tax-Aid, which assists low-income taxpayers with free tax preparation services. Cynthia served as Chair of the Nonprofit Organizations Committee for the American Bar Association’s Business Law Section and was named its 2011 Outstanding Attorney of the Year. Cynthia is listed in The Best Lawyers in America in the Nonprofit/Charities Law and Tax Law practice areas and has been honored as the 2015 San Francisco “Lawyer of the Year” for Nonprofit/Charities Law.
Tom Sebastian is President of the Story Lab US where he leads the company’s vision, growth and innovation in the ‘content economy,’ bridging the relationship between the entertainment and advertising industries as they forge new collaborations in 21st century storytelling. Prior to joining The Story Lab, Tom was the CO-CEO of one of the largest independent creative digital agencies in San Francisco which was among the fasted growing companies in the Bay Area for 2014 and 2015. Prior to his time in advertising, Tom worked for William Morris Agency in Los Angeles, where he led creative development for the firm’s corporate consulting division, eventually co-leading the entertainment marketing division of William Morris Endeavor, including accounts for Coke Zero and 20th Century Fox’s Avatar, Nestle/Purina and Marley and Me, Lady Gaga, and Polaroid. Prior to WME, Tom was the Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer of PRN, a San Francisco–based advertising and media firm that pioneered the creation of digital advertising systems. Tom has served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of thinkLA and was recently appointed to the board of the San Francisco YMCA.
Shannon Wass serves as the Board President for the San Francisco 49ers Academy, a non-profit embedded in the East Palo Alto public school system providing services to middle and high school students to help them to reach their full potential. She also serves on the Donor Relations Committee for the Humane Society Silicon Valley, as well as serving as a feline foster mentor. Wass is active in her community as a volunteer with various organizations. In addition, she is an angel investor in technology, restaurants, and the arts. In 2017, she was a member of the Human Services Commission for the City of San Jose.
At the end of 2022, Bob Weis retired from his role as Global Imagineering Ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering, the team that creates, designs and develops Disney’s theme parks, attractions, resort hotels, cruise ships, retail, dining and entertainment centers around the world. As Global Imagineering Ambassador, Bob leveraged the deep legacy of Imagineering along with his personal experience to support and mentor current Imagineers, strengthen their diverse talent pipeline for future generations, and lean into new ways to leverage the global organization’s rich culture of storytelling. Prior to this role, Bob served as president of Walt Disney Imagineering, where he led notable projects including the expansions of Disney California Adventure and Tokyo DisneySEA, as well as all creative and design aspects of Shanghai Disney Resort.
Michelle Williams is founder and CEO of Williams Learning Solutions, Inc. Her company is presently creating an animated action and adventure series to surreptitiously expose youth around the world to contemporary STEM ideas such as artificial intelligence, genetics, and space science.
Prior to her Silicon Valley startup, Michelle was a tenured professor at Michigan State University where she raised millions in STEM research funding. She also received the prestigious National Science Foundation Early Career Award to develop learning technologies to improve STEM education among K-12 youth in the biological sciences.
Michelle currently serves as a board member of the Hiller Aviation Museum and Bring Me A Book Foundation.
Nancy Hellman Bechtle
In Fond Memory of Nancy Bechtle and her contributions to The Walt Disney Family Museum Advisory Committee: 2014–2021
Nancy Hellman Bechtle, served on the Board of Directors for the Charles Schwab Corporation and is the Chairman of the Board for the Sugar Bowl Corporation. Previously, Nancy was Chief Financial Officer and Director for J.R. Bechtle & Company from 1979 to 1998. From 1987 to 2001, Nancy was President and Chief Executive Officer of the San Francisco Symphony and she has served as a member of its Board of Governors since 1984. Nancy served on the board of the National Park Foundation from 2001 to 2007 and held the board’s Citizen Chair from 2005 to 2007. She was appointed a director of the Presidio Trust in 2008 and served as its Chairman through 2015. Nancy received several honors, including the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts from the California Arts Council and the Coro Foundation’s Investment in Leadership Award. Nancy held a bachelor of arts from Stanford University.
Read more about Nancy's accomplishments and impact here.
Diane Disney Miller Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients
The Diane Disney Miller Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded by the board of The Walt Disney Family Museum to individuals who have made an outstanding impact in the field of arts, education, community involvement, and technological advancements.
Richard Sherman—best known as the songwriter, with his late brother Robert, of iconic and beloved songs from Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Jungle Book, Winnie the Pooh, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Disney theme park classics “it’s a small world” and “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room.” Richard is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and was awarded the National Medal of the Arts at the White House in 2008. He was awarded with the Diane Disney Miller Lifetime Achievement Award by The Walt Disney Family Museum in 2015.
For more than half a century, Marty Sklar was instrumental in sharing the magic of Disney-themed entertainment with people around the globe. He began working for The Walt Disney Company in 1955 and, over the years, rose through the ranks to become the creative leader of Walt Disney Imagineering. The only cast member to participate in the opening of all eleven Disney Parks & Resorts around the world, Marty was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2001 and had a window dedicated in his name on Disneyland’s City Hall. He was awarded with the Diane Disney Miller Lifetime Achievement Award by The Walt Disney Family Museum in 2016.
John Lasseter is recognized for his contributions to the entertainment industry and for his extraordinary leadership and innovative storytelling, which have been instrumental in elevating and distinguishing the world of animation. See John's bio above.