The Recording Academy announced the appointment of Valeisha Butterfield Jones as its first Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, a role that is among the recommendations of the organization’s Task Force for Diversity and Inclusion. Butterfield Jones will report directly to Academy Chair and Interim President/CEO Harvey Mason jr., effective May 11, 2020. According to the announcement, she will 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. She will design, build and implement world-class programs and industry standards focused on inclusion, belonging and representation for underrepresented communities and creators.
“We are thrilled to welcome Valeisha Butterfield Jones into the Recording Academy family,” said Mason. “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.”
Most recently, Butterfield Jones served as the global head of inclusion for Google, Inc. responsible for accelerating diversity, equity and inclusion outcomes for underrepresented communities internally and externally across the global brand. Prior to joining Google, she 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 (encompassing the Russell Simmons-founded businesses Def Jam Enterprises, Baby Phat, Phat Farm and Hip-Hop Summit Action Network) and as the national director of diversity and inclusion for the Alzheimer’s Association. She began her career at HBO Sports.
While the timing of the announcement, which comes in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, seems unusual, the Task Force’s recommendations called for the role to be filled by May 1, 2020. The Task Force, which was founded in the wake of former Academy chief Neil Portnow’s controversial 2018 comment that female musicians and executives need to “step up” in order to advance in the music industry, submitted its recommendations in December.
“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 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.”
Butterfield Jones said, “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. 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 also co-founded the Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network (WEEN) in 2007, a nonprofit 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.