The Academy of Country Music’s LEVel Up Program Announces New Cohort of Ten Industry Rising Leaders as Inaugural Cohort Graduates from Program


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The Academy of Country Music’s LEVel Up Program Announces New Cohort of Ten Industry Rising Leaders as Inaugural Cohort Graduates from Program

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(Link to 2024 Cohort image HERE; Link to ACM LEVel Up logomark HERE)

NASHVILLE, TN (December 13, 2022) - The Academy of Country Music’s LEVel Up: Lift Every Voice program, designed to elevate and drive the next generation of rising leaders in the industry, announced the members of its newest cohort, alongside a celebration of the inaugural 2022 cohort’s completion of the widely celebrated, Nashville-based two-year professional development program, and the start of the second year for the 2023 cohort.

The ACM LEVel Up Rising Leaders curriculum was created to empower participants to play a pivotal role in expanding the horizons of the Country Music industry into new audiences that transcend demographics and geography. It is a two-year investment funded entirely by the Academy of Country Music at no cost to participants. The first year is spent learning from thought leaders across the industry as well as collaborating as a cohort to develop a proposed plan to expand Country Music’s reach into new and underrepresented audience segments. The second sees the class implement their plan, working intentionally to shape the future and move the industry forward.

The inaugural 2022 cohort worked together to create an undergraduate series for college students across Nashville focused on highlighting various sectors of the music industry and diving into behind-the-scenes education beyond textbooks to prepare them for the music industry. The 2022 cohort collaborated with the Academy and BMAC (Black Music Action Coalition) to ideate and develop the initiative that became OnRamp, a guaranteed income program for young Black members of the Nashville, TN music community, including artists and industry professionals. Several LEVel Up participants over the last two years have already seen career growth and advancement, including promotions, new roles, and mentorships. The 2022 cohort also helped bring to life the ACM Lift Every Voice Award, which celebrates an individual in the industry who has played a pivotal role in elevating underrepresented voices throughout the Country Music genre, transcending demographics and geography. The inaugural award was presented to BRELAND at the 2023 ACM Honors show in August.

(Link to photo HERE; photo courtesy of John Jo for the Academy of Country Music)

(L-R Back Row: ACM DEI Task Force Chair Shannon Sanders; Haley Fairman; David Hawkins; Gator Pizer; Bryan Webb; ACM CEO Damon Whiteside; Former ACM Board Chair Chuck Aly. Front Row: ACM Manager of Programming & Community Engagement Kortney Toney; Alexes Aiken; Kenyon Glenn; Jackie Ebnet; Lacey Hayes; Nathan Pyle. Not pictured: Lizzy Stone)

The 2024 LEVel Up cohort is comprised of established young professionals in the industry from digital service providers, performing rights organizations, radio groups, PR firms, management companies, and others and were selected from a sizable and accomplished pool of applicants. This year’s cohort also has nine of its members representing organizations that have not previously offered participants in the LEVel Up program, dramatically showing the reach, influence, and impact of the program in only two years. Since its launch, LEVel Up has seen participants represent over 25 unique organizations from all corners of the Country Music industry. Participants are typically in the mid stages of their career, primed to benefit from the rich professional growth and nurturing as well as eager to serve as ambassadors for inclusivity and equity within the Country Music industry.

“I celebrate the commitment of these individuals in leading the evolution of Nashville’s Country Music industry, confident that with the LEVel Up program’s support, they will achieve remarkable feats,” stated Shannon Sanders, Chair of the ACM DEI Task Force. “The 2022 cohort has set a high bar, and the 2023 cohort is well-positioned to effect substantial change in 2024. The latest LEVel Up members are at the forefront of this transformation, and I am eager to witness the enduring contributions they, and future participants, will make in the coming years.”

ACM LEVel Up, 2024 Cohort, revealed in December 2023:

  • Alexes Aiken, Westwood One
  • Jackie Ebnet, mtheory
  • Haley Fairman, United Talent Agency
  • Kenyon Glenn, ASCAP
  • David Hawkins, MY Public Relations Lab
  • Lacey Hayes, Romeo Entertainment Group
  • Gator Pizer, Farris, Self & Moore
  • Nathan Pyle, Songfluencer
  • Lizzy Stone, Wiles + Taylor & Co.
  • Bryan Webb, Apple Music

ACM LEVel Up, 2023 Cohort, who have just completed the first year of the program:

  • Sabrina Butera, CAA
  • Nick Coulson, SiriusXM/The Highway
  • Ellen Ford, BBR Music Group
  • Aimee Graham, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
  • Synnovea Cleveland, Sony Music Publishing
  • Alex Heimerman, Universal Music Group Nashville
  • Roxy King, UMPG
  • Markus Koger, Smoking Section Podcast
  • Jenn Tressler, Opry Entertainment Group

ACM LEVel Up, 2022 Cohort, who have just completed the program:

  • Kaela Allen, Singer/Songwriter
  • Mackenzie Cooper, Triple Tigers Records
  • Stephanie Davenport, Warner Music Nashville
  • Morgan Kenney, WME
  • Daniel Killian, FBMM
  • Shelby White, AEG Presents

About the ACM LEVel Up: Lifting Every Voice Program
ACM LEVel Up: Lifting Every Voice program is a two-year professional development and enrichment curriculum for rising leaders in Country Music, designed to empower participants to play a pivotal role in expanding the horizons of Country Music into new audiences that transcend demographics and geography.

For more information on ACM LEVel Up: Lifting Every Voice program and upcoming LEVel Up undergraduate music business sessions, please visit

About the Academy of Country Music:  

Founded in Southern California in 1964 as a regional trade organization, the ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC (ACM) has grown in the almost-60 years since into a leading association for the Country Music industry. Now headquartered in Nashville, TN and boasting record-high membership of more than 5,000 worldwide, the Academy serves as a powerhouse advocate for Country fans, artists, and all facets of the business, as well as a supporter of philanthropic work through charitable partner ACM LIFTING LIVES, dedicated to improving lives through the power of music and providing aid in times of need, with a focus on health initiatives. 2023 has been another monumental year for the Academy, with the 58th ACM Awards, hosted by global superstars Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks, ranking as one of the most-watched awards shows of the year. 2024 will see the ACM Awards return in May to the world headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys in Texas for a second consecutive year and stream live for a global audience on Prime Video. The Academy also remains relentlessly committed to creating a more inclusive environment for underrepresented groups in Country Music, from the boardroom to the stage, and proudly presents both ACM LEVel Up, a two-year professional development and enrichment curriculum for rising leaders, and OnRamp, a guaranteed income program for Black members of the Nashville music community, in partnership with the Black Music Action Coalition. For more information, visit or