On the heels of a very public and controversial battle with former CEO Deborah Dugan, the Recording Academy has appointed Valeisha Butterfield Jones as its chief diversity and inclusion officer.
The Recording Academy revealed Butterfield Jones’s hiring in a press release, which was shared with Digital Music News. She will begin reporting directly to interim President and CEO Harvey Mason Jr. starting on May 11th.
In terms of job responsibilities, the Recording Academy indicated that Butterfield Jones “will design, build and implement world-class programs and industry standards focused on inclusion,” though it’s unclear exactly which initiatives she’ll spearhead.
Addressing her new role, Valeisha Butterfield Jones stated: “I’m deeply honored to join the Academy as we enter a new chapter of transformational growth, leadership and change. 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.”
The daughter of longtime U.S. Representative and former Congressional Black Caucus Chair G. K. Butterfield, Valeisha Butterfield Jones has worked for HBO Sports, held a position in the Obama administration’s Department of Commerce, and served as Google’s head of inclusion, among other distinguished professional endeavors. Notably, Valeisha is married to retired NBA star and championship winner Dahntay Jones.
Starting in January of this year, amid the leadup to the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, a high-profile battle ensued between the Recording Academy and former CEO Deborah Dugan.
Dugan came forward with allegations of corruption, harassment, and sexual assault, among others, while the Recording Academy claimed that it ousted Dugan because of a formal complaint levied by an employee (who was later identified as Claudine Little).
Dugan filed a lawsuit and took to the talk-show circuit, and the Recording Academy launched an independent investigation of her claims. In early March, the Academy officially fired Dugan, whose lawyers promised to retaliate.
For several reasons – including the domestic onset of the coronavirus crisis – the Dugan-Recording Academy conflict has largely died down. Nevertheless, it’s continuing to impact the Grammy host organization’s operational style and public-relations efforts.