Maura Hayes was born into a family of performers. With a singer for a father and a dancer for a mother, it was only natural that Maura grew up on stage. Her passion for dance brought her to Florida State University and set her on a path that would bring her to where she is today, Director of Operations for Disney’s Times Square Studios.
Following childhood as a dancer, Hayes was a senior in high school when she was awarded Miss Dance of Florida where she crossed paths with judge Richard Sias, a dance professor at Florida State. She entered college as a Dance major and loved every minute of it. During a visit with Dean Sandra Rackley, she decided to change to the School of Communication in order to graduate in 3 years and join the working world sooner. Pursuing broadcasting, she accepted an internship with the local ABC affiliate in Orlando during the spring. “Internships are for learning,” said Hayes. “And sometimes, you learn what you don’t want to do.”
Being in front of the camera wasn’t the same as the stage and after graduation, Hayes returned to her first love of dance. Working as a performer and stuntwoman for Walt Disney World in Orlando, Hayes performed in the Main Street Electrical parade, Diamond Horseshoe Revue and the Indiana Jones Stunt Show. During her visit with students, she stressed the importance of relationships. “Being nice is okay!” True to her advice, it was relationships that took Hayes from a performer to a Production Assistant, to Coordinator and later to Manager of Production Services in the Film and Television department. Flourishing in production services for eight years, 1999 brought another turn in her career path.
Since 1996 Hayes had functioned as a liaison between Disney and ABC, forging a relationship that wasn’t forgotten. In 1999, The Walt Disney Company leased property right in the heart of NYC in Times Square. Designed and constructed by Walt Disney Imagineering, the facility had bones but needed a spark of magic to turn it into a television studio. Maura’s phone rang and armed with a one-way ticket, she traveled to New York City to help open a studio.
It was her relationships and hard work that landed her in this position, but her adaptation that kept her there. Hayes focuses on client service and oversees the operation. She is often on the studio floor yet her “behind the scenes” part of her job includes working with engineers to overhaul the chillers or googling fixes for a new soap dispenser in the restrooms. She is always learning and encourages students to do the same, advising them to “never stop asking questions”. The studio is primarily used as the home of “Good Morning America” and ESPN. The unique exterior showcases a huge jumbotron screens and nine LED ribbons that wrap around the building ticking headlines from ABC and ESPN. “See those large 2nd floor windows?” said Maura, “Part of my job is to keep those clean, too!”
Maura sat down with a group of undergraduate women in-between meetings for the Alumni Association, her latest endeavor as a Director on the Board. Now with Disney for 34 years, the company has been good to Hayes allowing her advance in the company and continually encourages her growth. When Hayes was interested in applying for the Alumni Association Board, an executive VP of Disney told her – “you have to do this. Disney is a big supporter for giving back to the community and FSU is a large institution with a lot of successful alums!” New York City boasts a bustling FSU Alumni group and Maura wants to help bridge the gap between students and alumni.
The bottom line? Do your homework, lead by example, be kind and work hard. Maura is the shining example of hard work and the Seminole spirit. Learn more about the School of Communication and the Alumni Association.