Recording Academy Co-President Valeisha Butterfield Jones Steps Down for VP Role at Google

In a surprise move, Recording Academy co-president Valeisha Butterfield Jones will leave the organization to return to Google, taking a new vice president role on the internet giant’s diversity team.

Butterfield Jones joined the Academy in 2020 as chief diversity officer and became co-president with Panos Panay almost exactly a year ago. She played a key role in CEO Harvey Mason jr.’s “modernized leadership team” and oversaw the organization’s people and culture, membership, awards and related initiatives.

The Academy will continue to be led by Mason as CEO and Panay as president; the org will not name an additional co-president at this time. Senior management previously reporting to Butterfield Jones will now report to Mason.

Butterfield Jones will leave her post at the Academy effective Sept. 9 and will join Google in October as VP of partnerships on the diversity team, after having served previously as Google’s global head of inclusion.

“This is a bittersweet moment for our Recording Academy family,” Mason said in a statement. “We are all heartbroken that Valeisha is leaving us but also, so thankful for and proud of the incredible work she has done with us over the past two years. She has been the perfect partner and someone I feel truly lucky to have worked so closely with.”

Mason continued, “She has made me a better CEO and definitely made our Academy a better organization. I’m deeply appreciative of all the contributions she’s made, the impact she’s had, and the example she has set for each one of us.”

Butterfield Jones commented, “When I came to the Recording Academy over two years ago, I had a clear mission: to make the Recording Academy the most inclusive company in music, and the world. Diversity, equity and inclusion aren’t just buzzwords and as an organization, we were committed to doing the work both publicly and privately, to drive real and meaningful change. It has been one of the greatest honors of my career to serve this bold, new Recording Academy, and my service to our mission will continue in new and even more impactful ways.”

During her tenure at the Recording Academy, Butterfield Jones has been instrumental in the creation of several key initiatives including the Black Music Collective, the Recording Academy Honors, Women in the Mix Study and the HBCU Love Tour. Additionally, she was responsible for implementing the first awards show inclusion rider and #ChangeMusic Roadmap, and she forged historic partnerships with Color of Change and GLAAD.

Melonie Parker, Google’s chief diversity officer, said, “Valeisha is a true leader in bringing people together as she’s done during her time at the Academy, and previously at Google, and she will play a critical role in our external partnerships and inclusion programs. I am thrilled for Valeisha’s return and for the indelible mark she’ll continue to make.”

Following her departure from the Recording Academy, Butterfield Jones will continue to serve the organization and the broader music community. She has been appointed an honorary co-chair of the Black Music Collective; her additional continued involvement with the Academy will be announced in the coming months.

Prior to joining the Academy, 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. Previously, she 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 worked 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. She began her career at HBO Sports.

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