Deborah Dugan Elected First Female Recording Academy CEO
Deborah Dugan, the CEO of nonprofit AIDS group (RED), will reportedly replace current president/CEO Neil Portnow when his contract ends in July. Portnow, who helmed the Recording Academy and its Grammy Awards for 17 years, said last year that he would leave the organization when his contract ended this summer.
Dugan received the majority of votes at a Recording Academy board meeting to become the president and CEO of the organization, according to Billboard.
Portnow got caught up in the #MeToo controversies of 2018. When asked about the dearth of awards going to female artists at last year’s Grammys, he responded that female artists should “step up” for better representation in the future. He was also part of the accusations that MusiCares funds went to cover some of the production for the Grammys. Portnow later apologized for his poor phrasing.
“When I had the honor of being selected to lead this great organization in 2002, I vowed that on my watch, for the first time in our history, we would have a thoughtful, well-planned and collegial transition,” Portnow said in a statement at the time. “With a little more than a year remaining on my current contract, I’ve decided that this is an appropriate time to deliver on that promise.”
Dugan previously held positions at Disney Publishing and EMI/Capitol Records prior to (RED).
She joined (RED), which was founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver in 2006, as CEO in 2011. The nonprofit has raised more than $550 million for the Global Fund. Partners include Apple, Beats by Dre, Starbucks and The Coca-Cola Company. She began her career as a Wall Street mergers and acquisitions attorney.
Dugan was one of six initial candidates, according to Billboard, which noted that there have not been many women in high-ranking positions at the Academy. That includes former senior VPs Diane Theriot, Kristen Madsen and Nancy Shapiro and two ex-chairs of the board of trustees, Leslie Ann Jones and Christine Albert. Ruby Marchand is currently vice-chair and VP of membership & industry Laura Segura Mueller is the only woman on the 10-member executive staff.