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Recording Academy Hires Sean Smith as EVP, Communications

Sean Smith will join the Recording Academy in the newly created role of executive vice president of communications, effective Oct. 25. Smith formerly served as executive vp of corporate counsel at public relations firm Porter Novelli, where he led the global corporate counsel practice. In this role, he developed and led corporate reputation campaigns and managed issues for the Recording Academy and other brands.

Concurrently, Andie Cox has been promoted to vice president of communications, effective immediately. The department was formerly headed by Lourdes Lopez Patton, vice president, communications, who left the Academy in August.

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Reporting to Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Academy co-president, Smith will lead the overall communications strategy for the Academy, including media relations, corporate communications and what the Academy calls “reputation management.” Cox will report to Smith.

Though Smith doesn’t start until Oct. 25, his bio is already included among executive bios at the Recording Academy’s website.

“The Academy continues to expand the talent and breadth of experience within its leadership team with the appointments of Sean and Andie to their new roles in the communications department,” said Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. “Together with their extensive knowledge and innovation in the field, they will play a pivotal role in enhancing our communications efforts as we head into a global sphere.”

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Smith will work with the executive office to develop the Academy’s communication strategy and contribute to the strategic planning process for the organization with a global focus, while directly managing communication objectives that promote, enhance and protect the organization’s brand reputation. He will also lead corporate communications, event and entertainment public relations, brand reputation, and crisis mitigation and management, including the client relations and deliverables of specialized communication agencies.

Cox will support Smith in the creation of the overall communications strategy for the Recording Academy and in implementing and executing communications plans and promotions for the Grammy Awards and all Grammy Week initiatives. She also leads public relations efforts for the Recording Academy’s 12 chapters nationwide and spearheads the communication strategies for the Academy’s advocacy department, awards process and diversity, equity & inclusion initiatives.

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Earlier in his career, Smith served as the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) where he managed all aspects of the department’s brand and reputation and was the principal advisor to the Secretary and several other cabinet members. During his tenure at DHS, Smith led the Obama administration’s public response to breaking news. He also held roles in various political campaigns, including three presidential campaigns.

Smith is a member of the board of LookUp.live, an organization dedicated to addressing youth mental health and well-being, and a volunteer with the Chinook Indian Nation.

Cox joined the Academy in 2014 as a senior manager in the marketing communications department and was later promoted to director. She most recently served as managing director of communications, where she led numerous communications campaigns, including strategies for the organization’s membership model refresh in 2018, the Academy’s first-ever Black Music Collective, and its partnership with Color Of Change.

Cox also led communications efforts for the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund in support of music industry professionals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the Academy, Cox worked at the Grammy Museum.

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With Smith’s hiring and Cox’s promotion, the Recording Academy’s roster of top executives, including MusiCares and the Grammy Museum, numbers 25. Excluding eight executives who work for MusiCares or the Grammy Museum, 17 of these execs work for the Academy itself. Of these, 11 are men; six are women. Note: The roster still includes Daryl Friedman, chief advocacy and public policy officer, will soon be leaving the Academy. As was announced yesterday, Friedman, an Academy staff member since 1997, will join CEDIA, the global trade association for the home technology industry, as global president and CEO on Nov. 29.