Deborah Dugan has been named president and CEO of the Recording Academy, the leading society of performers, musicians, songwriters, producers, engineers, and all music professionals, and the organization behind the Grammy awards. She replaces Neil Portnow, who had held the role since 2002. Dugan will take over on Aug. 1, which will be the first time that a woman has been named to the position.
John Poppo, chair of the board, confirmed Dugan’s appointment on Wednesday.
“I’m honored, humbled, and ready,” Dugan said in a statement. “The goal of the Recording Academy is to support, encourage, and advocate for those within the music community. I will listen to and champion all of those individuals, and lead this iconic organization into the future. I’m excited to get started.”
“Deborah is a highly accomplished business executive and a visionary leader who also brings to this role a great passion for the mission of the Academy,” Poppo said. “The Board of Trustees is very eager to work with her as we embark on this next chapter in the Recording Academy’s story.”
Dugan was most recently the CEO of (RED), the AIDS nonprofit co-founded in 2006 by U2 singer Bono and activist Bobby Shriver and was previously the president of Disney Publishing Worldwide and executive vice president of EMI Records Group/Angel Records. She currently serves as co-chair of the award-winning storytelling nonprofit The Moth.
Portnow announced he was going to step down in May 2018. Earlier that year, an open letter from a group of female music executives called for his resignation due to the lack of female representation at the 2018 Grammy Awards, and over his comments during the post-ceremony press conference where he said that women need to “step up” if they want to improve the gender imbalance in the music industry. Portnow eventually backtracked on the statement and announced a task force to focus on “female advancement.”
As the new president and CEO, Dugan will oversee all Recording Academy affairs and work closely with the Academy’s Board of Trustees and senior management team to advance the Academy’s goals, driving the creative and strategic vision of the organization.