Mirroring Disney’s Culture: From Cast Members to Community Leaders

Working at Disney can help turn professional dreams into realities. Just take Michael Dippy and Chris Ham, two former cast members now making big differences in Florida as nonprofit leaders.

Michael Dippy is a founder of IDignity, a Florida nonprofit helping U.S. citizens and legal residents obtain necessary identification documents at no cost to themselves. Dippy’s first job? Working with the Food & Beverage team at Walt Disney World in Magic Kingdom.

“Being born and raised in Orlando, Disney was the obvious choice for my first job,” Dippy said. “From day one, it was a welcoming and encouraging culture that provided me the training and resources I needed to succeed.”

When he discovered new dreams to found IDignity, he always aspired for it to be reflective of his experiences at Disney both as a cast member and a guest.

“I wanted IDignity to mirror Disney’s culture of collaboration, creativity, innovation and exceptional quality,” Dippy explained.

Today, IDignity assists more than 300 individuals each month in obtaining the identification documents they need to access education, obtain employment, gain proper healthcare, apply for housing and more.

Disney recently granted the organization with $100,000 to help further its impact. In fact, the Disney Grant helped cover an entire month of services.

“The most important thing I learned from Disney is the power to dream,” Dippy said. “I’ve relied on this to get IDignity to where it is today and will continue to rely on it as I look to the future of the organization.”

Similarly, Chris Ham started his career at Disney and is now Executive Director of the Rescue Outreach Mission, a 115-bed homeless shelter that seeks to equip and empower individuals towards a pathway to stability to bridge the gap between homelessness and housing.

Ham was also a cast member in Magic Kingdom as a Jungle Cruise Skipper taking guests on wild boat tours through the exotic rivers of the world.

With Disney World in his backyard, it was the perfect choice for a summer job. That summer job turned into 7 years of unforgettable Disney Cast Life moments. The most memorable thing Disney taught him (besides his Skipper spiel, of course) is that it takes people to make the difference.

“Disney cast members are the difference,” Ham said. “I try to run Rescue Outreach Mission like that, where everyone is in it together, and everyone plays their part to care for our guests like they are our family.”

So far, that mentality has turned into success. In 2023, Rescue Outreach Mission provided 90,000 meals and helped permanently house over 200 people.

“I value changing the trajectory of someone’s day for the better. I look them in the eyes, offer a smile, share a meal and listen to their story,” Ham said. “If we end up working together, Rescue Outreach can not only change someone’s day, but can hopefully change the trajectory of their whole lives too.”

Years after their time at Disney, Dippy and Ham still carry their cast nametags. Furthermore, they still get to make magic alongside the company as Disney works with both organizations to support those in need.

“As a cast member raising a family in Florida, it makes me proud that we support organizations like IDignity and Orlando Rescue Mission,” said Tajiana Ancora-Brown, Director of External Affairs at Walt Disney World. “They are working to create true and meaningful change for the community we all love.”