After she follows Harvey Mason Jr. in the role, this marks the first time in academy history that back-to-back chairs have been people other than white men.
At each year's Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy distributes a program book to attendees. It's mostly devoted to nominees and special merit honorees, but it also includes a full page of head shots of past chairs of the academy’s board of trustees. The list goes all the way back to James B. Conkling, who was acting national chairman from the academy’s founding in 1957 to 1961. The joke among Grammy insiders is that it’s a sea of white men until you get to Leslie Ann Jones, who served as chairwoman from 1999–2001.
That isn’t quite true. The roster of past chairs includes Nesuhi Ertegun (1964-65), a Turkish-American who was born in Istanbul when it was part of the Ottoman Empire, and George Avakian (1966-67), an Armenian-American who was born in present-day Russia.