Harvey Mason Jr., who assumed the CEO position at the Recording Academy in May after serving as interim CEO, continues to restructure the organization with the latest changes resulting in some high profile departures.
Friday was the last day for Bill Freimuth, longtime chief awards officer; Lourdes Lopez, vp of communications, and Lisa Farris, chief marketing and innovation officer.
Since 2004, Freimuth oversaw the team that handles the Grammy nominations and eligibility process and was the explainer-in-chief when it came to elucidating the Recording Academy’s often complicated and changing eligibility rules.
Lopez had worked at the Academy since 2002 in communications and marketing, and was promoted to VP, communications in July 2019.
Farris joined in 2019 as chief digital officer, before moving to chief marketing and innovation officer last August.
Mason has made other changes over the past 20 months since being named interim president/CEO in January 2020, after the Academy placed new president/CEO Deborah Dugan on leave. She was subsequently terminated in March 2020.
After becoming permanent CEO/president in May (and resigning as board of trustees chair), Mason quickly relinquished the president’s title weeks later, naming Valeisha Butterfield Jones and Panos A. Panay as co-presidents in early June.
Butterfield Jones was initially hired as the Academy’s first chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer in May 2020. Panay, who starts his new position Monday, most recently was senior vp of global strategy and innovation at Berklee College of Music.
Those changes, which many welcomed as the Academy continues to put an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, nonetheless left the organization top-heavy with a surfeit of high level executives, sources say.
Mason and the trustees also eliminated the nominations review committees in late April, allowing Grammy voters to have the final say in non-craft categories.
Mason also oversaw a round of layoffs last October that saw the departure of 13 staffers from the Recording Academy and its philanthropic arm, MusiCares. At that time, Mason said the changes stemmed from a major reorganization that streamlined the Recording Academy into three divisions: an entertainment/consumer division, trade/industry group and organizations/cross verticals. Prior to those layoffs, the Recording Academy had 169 staffers.
Freimuth could not be reached, but his reply email states that he is no longer with the company. Farris and Lopez confirmed their departures, but declined to comment further.
The Recording Academy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.