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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has named sports executive Christine Simmons its new chief operating officer — a post that has been unfilled for the past five years.

Simmons, president and COO of the Los Angeles Sparks, will assume her new role in January and report directly to AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson. The COO position has been vacant since 2013, when Ric Robertson departed.

“There has been — and continues to be — a sea change in our film community, our Academy, and in the culture at large,” Hudson said on Thursday. “Christine brings both nonprofit and corporate management expertise, an ability to implement creative solutions, and a love of film to our Academy. It’s the perfect moment for an innovative thinker.”

The Academy has been attempting to diversify its membership in recent years and added a record 928 members in June to bring its total membership to more than 9,200.

Simmons will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the Academy’s internal organization and infrastructure, focusing on the Margaret Herrick Library, Academy Film Archive, its educational programs, and the Science and Technology Council.

Prior to becoming president of the Sparks, Simmons served as executive vice president of Magic Johnson Enterprises, where she led the operations of the Sparks throughout the team’s first season. Before working at MJE, she held senior positions managing and expanding supplier diversity at both Disney and NBC/Universal Studios.

“I look forward to joining the team and contributing to the innovation and growth of the operational excellence of the Academy,” Simmons said. “The organization’s efforts to support filmmakers and programs where every person’s story can be told are invaluable.”

Simmons serves on the advisory councils for Women in Sports and Events and Next Play Capital. She was previously board president of the UCLA Alumni Association, and is a member of the UCLA Foundation’s Board of Directors and the UC Regents.

The Academy also promoted Matt Severson, the head of photograph collections since 2009, to take over for Linda Harris Mehr as library director, effective immediately. He will report to Randy Haberkamp, managing director of preservation and foundation programs, and oversee the entire operation of the Margaret Herrick Library.