My name is Kartika Rodriguez, and I began my Disney journey over 23 years ago. Since then, I’ve experienced so much growth, learning and joy. I’ve worked in a range of technology-focused roles at Disney, from industrial engineering to manufacturing operations. Now, I’m extremely proud and grateful for the opportunity to work as the Vice President of EPCOT.
During my time as VP, we’ve celebrated so many exciting new openings at EPCOT including Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, La Crêperie de Paris, Space 220 Restaurant, Connections Eatery and more.
At Disney Parks, we strive to create a culture of inclusion so our cast and guests can feel seen. An example that demonstrates the true beauty of representation at EPCOT is the recent launch of the CreativeSoul Doll Collection that reimagines classic Princess characters through a diverse lens. It’s been very special to watch the reaction to these dolls because it represents so much to kids and adults alike, who can feel seen and celebrated through them. I’ve seen this collection bring so much joy to people, and personally, I purchased all four dolls the day they were released. I believe we are truly better when we come together, connect and appreciate each other.
I am also thankful for the programs available at Disney to help cast members achieve their professional goals. Black Talent Network, or BTN, is a dynamic program designed to support the exposure, sponsorship and development of Black senior leaders through a variety of unique experiences including mentorships, access to internal and external insights, career resources and networking opportunities. I joined the first ever Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products BTN cohort as a participant when it launched in 2021. By the 2nd cohort, I became an active mentor, where I was able to leverage new and existing relationships that continue to benefit me today. What I love most about BTN is that these relationships continue well beyond the cohorts. My mentor Tracy Wilson [Senior Vice President of Finance, Disney Signature Experiences] and I continue to have meaningful dialogue and discussion to this day.
It’s incredibly special to tell my story and highlight programs like BTN during Black History Month. For me, Black History Month is a time to reflect. I think a lot about my great grandparents, my grandparents, my mom, my aunties and uncles. I think about the opportunities I’ve had based on their encouragement – opportunities they were never afforded. I think about the doors that others have opened for me. Black History Month is a time to be grateful and to ensure that I always try my best to make my family proud. It’s also a time for me to talk to my own son. To inspire and encourage him by explaining the sacrifices other people have made so we can continue to move forward.
I hope through my leadership at Disney, I can leave a legacy where people truly feel welcome and supported in their goals. I’m also so excited about everything in the works at EPCOT and across Disney Parks – we are making history in real-time through innovation and teamwork. Black history is now and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.