Deborah Dugan, the CEO of the nonprofit AIDS organization (RED), will be replacing Neil Portnow as the president and CEO of the Recording Academy, the organization who puts on the annual Grammy Awards, according to Billboard. Dugan will reportedly succeed Portnow in July.
Dugan brings decades of leadership experience to the Academy, including an eight-year stint (1990-98) as an executive vice president at EMI/Capitol Records, and most recently as the CEO of (RED). Since Bono and Bobby Shriver founded the nonprofit in 2006, (RED) has raised over $500 million and established partnerships with leading companies such as Apple and Starbucks. Prior her tenure at (RED), which began in 2011, Dugan served as the president of Disney Publishing Worldwide.
According to Variety, the Academy began its search for Portnow's replacement last month and sought CEO-level candidates who could run the organization "for the next 15 years." Dugan was one of three finalists who the board voted on in March by secret ballot, during which she earned the majority.
Portnow, who has been at the helm of the Recording Academy since 2002, announced last year that he would be stepping down from his position once his contract expired. The former record executive found himself embroiled in controversy in 2018, particularly for the Academy's failure to promote diversity and representation. Following the 60th annual Grammy ceremony, during which only one woman won a major award, Portnow told reporters backstage that women in music need to "step up" if they intend on progressing in their careers.
The comments drew criticism from many notable men and women in the industry, many of whom urged Portnow to step down in light of his comments and the Academy's exclusion of female talent. Although he attempted to subdue the backlash, he announced that he would be stepping down from his post in May of last year.
Prior to Mike Greene's appointment as the Academy's first permanent president in 1988, Christine M. Farnon, who joined the organization as an unpaid volunteer, oversaw a handful of staffers running the organization. Since then, few women have ascended to the top-notch roles at the Academy. Dugan's appointment as the organization's president and CEO marks a historic moment as she will be the first woman to permanently hold the position.