The Recording Academy Names Valeisha Butterfield Jones To Top Diversity & Inclusion Post

Valeisha Butterfield Jones
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– Valeisha Butterfield Jones

Valeisha Butterfield Jones has been named The Recording Academy’s first Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, the Academy announced today (April 30), effective May 11.

She will report directly to Academy Chair and Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. and join the executive leadership team responsible for “advancing the Recording Academy’s mission and ensuring that diversity and inclusion are core to business values and standards, and demonstrated throughout the organization,” according to a statement from the Academy.

Butterfield Jones’ appointment follows recommendations from Recording Academy Diversity & Inclusion Task Force in December, with a request for the Academy to hire a Diversity & Inclusion Officer at the executive level responsible for enterprise-wide diversity and inclusion efforts by May 1. 

The former global head of inclusion efforts at Google, Butterfield Jones is an award-winning and globally recognized business leader with proven impact at the intersections of technology, politics and entertainment. 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 Home Box Office (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.

“We are thrilled to welcome Valeisha Butterfield Jones into the Recording Academy family,” said Harvey Mason Jr. “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 is tasked  with bringing “business acumen and strategic rigor to inclusion practices across all areas of the Recording Academy, including internal and external programs, organizational and staff culture, membership, awards and related initiatives. As Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Butterfield Jones will design, build and implement world-class programs and industry standards focused on inclusion, belonging and representation for underrepresented communities and creators.”

“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,” said Tina Tchen, chair of the Recording Academy Diversity & Inclusion Task Force and president and CEO of TIME’S UP. “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 appointment comes after a period of turmoil for the Recording Academy, which placed former CEO Deborah Dugan on leave in January, just before the Grammy Awards presentation, before firing her in March. Dugan has sued the Academy, claiming it remained a “a boys’ club” despite her own efforts to effect change from within on inclusion and diversity fronts.

“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,” said Butterfield Jones. “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.”