Recording Academy Names Valeisha Butterfield Jones and Panos Panay Co-Presidents

Matt Winkelmeyer

In a major executive move for the Recording Academy, the organization has named Valeisha Butterfield Jones and Panos A. Panay as Co-Presidents, effective August 16, 2021, CEO Harvey Mason, jr. announced on Tuesday (June 22)

According to the announcement, they will be joining recently elevated COO Branden Chapman and chief industry officer Ruby Marchand as part of a “modernized leadership team.”

The announcement states, “This new structure is recognition that further progress and building of the organization requires exceptional leaders with different strengths and areas of focus in order to drive innovation and accountability. With the aim of better serving Recording Academy members and the music industry at large, the team will work directly under Mason, whose title will shift to CEO.”

As co-president, Butterfield Jones — who was named chief diversity officer last year — will oversee the Recording Academy’s people and culture, membership, and awards and related initiatives. She will also “continue to infuse the highest standards of inclusion, belonging and representation throughout the Academy,” according to the announcement, with a director-level staffer executing those efforts.

Panay also will serve as chief revenue officer, tasked with driving business growth across the organization with a focus on identifying new partnerships and opportunities, creating strategic plans and fostering a culture of innovation.

“The successful evolution of the Recording Academy is dependent on strong and innovative leaders, and I’m thrilled to elevate Valeisha and welcome Panos as Co-Presidents to help drive the Recording Academy’s continued transformation,” said Mason jr. “Both Valeisha and Panos are incredible leaders who have a proven record of progress, and together with the rest of the team, will continue to push the envelope at the Recording Academy and shape the organization to better serve, protect, and celebrate the music community.”

Prior to this role, Butterfield Jones served as the global head of inclusion for Google. Key programs under her leadership included TechExchange, Code Next, the State of Black Women at Google, Decoding Race and the Digital Coaches program. She also served as the national youth vote director for the Obama for America campaign, and in the Obama Administration as the deputy director of public affairs for international trade. She also served as the national executive director and senior vice president of Russell Simmons’ Rush Communications / the 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.

Prior to joining the Recording Academy, Panay served as the senior vice president for global strategy and innovation at Berklee College of Music and is a fellow at MIT Connection Science. At Berklee, Panay led the development and execution of the college’s overarching strategic plan; founded the Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship; oversaw its campuses in New York City, Valencia (Spain) and Abu Dhabi, as well as the Music + Health and India Exchange Institutes. He also led Berklee’s expansion to China and the K-12 sector. Prior to Berklee, Panay was founder and CEO of Sonicbids, a platform for emerging artists to connect with music promoters. He led the company for 13 years until after its successful acquisition in 2013. He started his career as a talent agent and vice president at The Kurland Agency.

Earlier this month, the Recording Academy announced its newly elected national officers of the Board of Trustees. Tammy Hurt was elected as the Chair of the Board of Trustees, and Rico Love will serve as Vice Chair. Om’Mas Keith was elected Secretary/Treasurer and Christine Albert continues her role as Chair Emeritus.