Deborah Dugan, CEO of (RED), picked to lead the Grammys


NEW YORK (AP) — Deborah Dugan, the CEO of Bono’s (RED) organization, has been named president and CEO of the Recording Academy, becoming the first woman appointed to lead the organization.

The academy announced Wednesday that Dugan will succeed Neil Portnow, who has led the Grammys since 2002. He announced he chose not to seek an extension on his contract, which ends this year.

Before joining (RED), the AIDS organization that launched in 2006, Dugan was president of Disney Publishing Worldwide and executive vice president at EMI/Capitol Records. She started her career as an attorney on Wall Street.

Dugan will formally start the new job Aug. 1.

“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.”

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Before Dugan, music executive Christine Farnon held the top position at the academy for years, though she never had the title of president and CEO. She held multiple positions at the Grammys throughout her tenure, retiring in 1992 as executive vice president.

Michael Greene became the first official president and CEO of the academy in 1988, leading the organization until 2002 when Portnow took over.

Dugan’s hire comes after Portnow was criticized at the 2018 Grammys when he said women need to “step up” when asked about the lack of female winners in a backstage interview. Only two female performers won awards during the live telecast and the Grammys were criticized for not letting pop singer Lorde, the only women nominated for album of the year, perform at the show.

Portnow called his comments a “poor choice of words” and later announced that he would leave his post this year. An online petition posted by singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton calling for his resignation surpassed its goal of 10,000 signatures; more than 30,000 people had signed the document.

Three months after the debacle, Portnow said he would not to seek an extension on his contract. This year’s Grammy Awards include more female nominees in the top categories, and country singer Kacey Musgraves won album of the year while British singer Dua Lipa was named best new artist.

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