The Recording Academy announced Thursday it has appointed Valeisha Butterfield Jones as its first chief diversity and inclusion officer, a role that was recommended by a diversity and inclusion and task force that is chaired by Time’s Up’s Tina Tchen.
Butterfield Jones will report directly to Academy chair and interim president and CEO Harvey Mason Jr., effective May 11, 2020. Her role on the executive team will be to advance the Recording Academy’s diversity and inclusion throughout the organization and within the Grammys.
“We are thrilled to welcome Valeisha Butterfield Jones into the Recording Academy family,” Mason Jr said in a statement. “Valeisha has been a force in driving systemic change and enhancing equal opportunities for underrepresented groups across entertainment, technology and politics. I’m excited to work with her to continue evolving the Recording Academy as an organization that represents our music community and a place where all voices are welcomed, supported and nurtured. We are so fortunate to have Valeisha’s leadership in this crucial area.”
Butterfield Jones will work across all areas of the Recording Academy, including internal and external programs, organizational and staff culture, membership, awards and related initiatives. In her role, Butterfield Jones will design, build and implement programs and industry standards focused on inclusion, belonging and representation for underrepresented communities and creators.
The task force in a set of recommendations issued December 2019 had called for the role to be filled by May 1, 2020 and had later criticized the organization for not fully implementing the recommendations. The task force was formed after the former Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow stepped down for making comments in 2018 saying that female recording artists needed to “step up” if they wanted to advance in the music industry and succeed at the Grammys.
“It’s imperative that the music industry continue to make strides toward a more equitable and inclusive industry, and I am pleased to see the Recording Academy take this important step toward change within its own walls today by appointing Valeisha Butterfield Jones as its first-ever Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer,” Tchen, chair of the Recording Academy Diversity & Inclusion Task Force and president and CEO of Time’s Up, said in a statement. “Creating this executive-level position was a principal recommendation of our Task Force because it is one significant way the Academy can demonstrate that issues of diversity are mission-critical and will be prioritized in the future.”
“The Recording Academy has an opportunity and responsibility to ensure that diversity and inclusion is embedded in its core values. I’m deeply honored to join the Academy as we enter a new chapter of transformational growth, leadership and change,” Butterfield Jones said. “During this unprecedented time in world history, together we will double-down on our focus to drive systemic change and equitable outcomes for underrepresented communities and creators.”
Butterfield Jones previously served as global head of inclusion at Google and was responsible for accelerating diversity, equity and inclusion outcomes for underrepresented communities internally and externally across the brand. Prior to joining Google, Butterfield Jones served as the national youth vote director for the Obama for America campaign, deputy director of public affairs for international trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce in the Obama Administration, executive director at Rush Communications (Def Jam Enterprises, Baby Phat, Phat Farm, Hip-Hop Summit Action Network) and as the national director of diversity and inclusion for the Alzheimer’s Association. Her two-decades-long career began at HBO Sports.
As a philanthropist, Butterfield Jones co-founded the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN) in 2007, a nonprofit, global coalition of women and men committed to the balanced, positive portrayal of women in the entertainment industry. She also serves on the National Board of Directors of ColorComm, MC Lyte’s Hip Hop Sisters Network and iVote.
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