Whiteside's appointment to the Academy comes after 23 years in the music and entertainment industries, most recently serving 6 years at the Country Music Association where he began as Senior Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships prior to being elevated to the role of Chief Marketing Officer.
In his time at CMA, Whiteside was responsible for overseeing the development of multi-million-dollar marketing and media campaigns for CMA's three annual television properties and strengthening the partnership with CMA's exclusive broadcast partner ABC Television Network and The Walt Disney Company. Additionally, Whiteside dedicated efforts to identify and build strategic partnerships with multi-platform media partners, digital companies, and Fortune 500 brands. Notable accomplishments include increased ratings for the monumental 53rd annual CMA Awards in November 2019, his leadership role in the year-long campaign for "The 50th Annual CMA Awards" and the groundbreaking "Forever Country" single and music video campaign; serving as the lead Country strategist for the release of the Ken Burns Country Music documentary; award-winning creative campaigns positioning CMA Awards as the leader in music awards shows; the launch of CMA Brand Marketing Summits in New York, Toronto and London; dramatic growth across CMA digital platforms; the launch of CMA's content creation efforts; integrated media partnerships with top digital/DSPs, radio, and cable television partners; re-branding of CMA Music Festival and Fan Fair X; 40% increase in annual sponsorship revenue; supporting the CMA Board of Directors' expansion of international efforts; overall re-tooling of CMA Marketing, Research, Communications and Strategic Partnerships teams to better serve the needs of the Country Music industry.
Whiteside's diverse, multi-media career began in 1996 at The Walt Disney Company. There he was regarded as a marketing and partnerships innovator with a strong reputation for generating marketing value, incremental revenue, and longevity of music, film, TV, and live entertainment franchises. He was responsible for award-winning marketing, creative productions, live events, and digital partnership programs during his tenure with numerous Disney-owned companies including Disney Music Group, The Walt Disney Studios, Disney Channel, and Disney Consumer Products. Some of his notable accomplishments include leading multi-platform marketing and partnership campaigns that achieved more than 100 No. 1 films, TV series, album releases and concert tours. This success was driven by Whiteside's ability to work in partnership with artists, labels, producers and talent representatives in Country, Pop, Adult Contemporary, R&B, Jazz, and New Age to deliver best-in-class marketing and creative productions for countless superstar-level artists and was instrumental in launching the music careers of some of today's most successful artists. In addition, he developed brand and retail strategies for the world's largest film and TV franchises, including Hannah Montana, High School Musical, Cars, Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mickey Mouse, Disney Princess and more, each generating more than $3 billion in retail sales. He secured over $100MM annually in media value through brand partnerships and broadcast marketing efforts with top networks including ABC, ABC Family, CMT, MTV, VH-1, Disney Channel, ESPN, HGTV, GAC, PBS, VH1, and many more. In the business and corporate development arena, Whiteside engineered innovative product development and strategic partnership programs that drove Walt Disney Records annual revenues by more than 500 percent to gain a #1 independent record company ranking by Billboard. He also served on Disney's Corporate Brand Management and Synergy Executive Committees, which identified and set strategy for the top franchise and marketing priorities across the Company. There he represented the three Disney Music Group labels which included Walt Disney Records, Hollywood Records, and Lyric Street Records in integration of artists into Disney-wide initiatives.
In 2011, Whiteside formed Nomad Entertainment Group in Hollywood, CA, where he represented multi-genre music artists, producers and songwriters, and developed marketing and digital campaigns, brand strategy, and partnerships for entertainment brand clients.
Whiteside's professional affiliations have included Leadership Music, NARAS, Music Business Association, Digital LA, CMO Club, LA Office, American Marketing Association and Promotion Marketing Association. His current Board positions include the Nashville Entrepreneur Center, Nashville Cares and the TJ Martell Foundation. In 2013 he completed the Executive Program at the renowned UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Lyndsay Cruz, a seasoned professional experienced in engaging celebrities in charitable affairs, began her career as a political appointee under George W. Bush's White House where she worked as an Advance Representative for the Secretary of Education, Secretary of Treasury and the Vice President. She then went on to the international non-profit Oxfam America, where she created and managed their first-ever public figures ambassador program for 13 years. She left Oxfam to independently consult for a number of non-profit organizations, including two of the most successful fundraisers in New Orleans' history, including leading the talent team of Brad Pitt's Make It Right Galas in 2012 and 2014, and other major events and fundraising efforts for The Malala Fund, Emily's List, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Girl Rising, The World Bank, Harlem Village Academies and many others.
She brings expertise from a range of fields, specifically talent outreach and recruitment, media and public relations, and logistics management to the newly created role of ACM Lifting Lives Executive Director. Cruz will lead and collaborate with stakeholders to further the mission of improving lives through the power of music, and execute ACM Lifting Lives 501(c)(3) California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation, as well as organizational relationships, to meet qualifying needs.
Alexa Fasheh first joined the Academy staff as Director of Finance in 2011. A Los Angeles native, Fasheh graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in accounting. She then went on to work as an accountant for a variety of CPA firms, including the Haber Corporation where she spent 5 years as the ACM's outside accountant before joining the ACM staff full-time.
In her role as Vice President of Finance & Operations, Fasheh oversees the Academy's finances and benefits packages, as well as credentials for the ACM Awards. She reports to Damon Whiteside, CEO of the Academy.
Jen Heaton, a California native, joined the Academy of Country Music in 2017, most recently serving as Director, Strategic Partnerships and now elevated to Vice President. In her time at the Academy, Heaton grew existing partnerships and continues to expand the Academy’s footprint with corporate partners. Recent endeavors for Heaton include renewing partnerships with Ford, 1000 Stories Wine and Dr Pepper, in addition to creating new relationships with brands such as Crown Royal, T-Mobile and AT&T. Heaton’s efforts in 2020 focused on supporting fundraising for the ACM Lifting Lives COVID-19 Response Fund and collaborating to launch a national vaccine PSA campaign with the Ad Council. Prior to her time at ACM, Heaton worked with Arizona Diamondbacks in both Sales and Corporate Partnerships where she oversaw contracts and executed activations with the team. Heaton graduated from University of Arizona where she studied Communications and Business. Heaton currently resides in California with her husband and their new addition, Zoe.
In her role as Vice President, Heaton will continue to plan and execute the ACM and ACM Lifting Lives® partners programs—including identifying, cultivating and developing new sponsors across industries and developing a multi-year partnership strategy. She reports to Damon Whiteside, CEO of the Academy.
Rory Levine joins the Academy of Country Music as Vice President, Marketing and Digital Strategy & Engagement from a career leading and growing some of the most resonant media brands. Most recently, he led all consumer recruitment and registration efforts for The Atlantic’s acclaimed events business, supporting a robust slate of 150+ premiere live journalism events staged all across the U.S. Prior to that, he notably served as Vice President, Marketing and Audience Engagement at Viacom’s country music and lifestyle cable television network CMT, heading all consumer-facing advertising campaigns, promotional partnerships, and social media activation, notably including the successful migration and relaunch of the fan-favorite music drama series Nashville for its two final seasons and nearly 40 all new episodes. Levine has also run marketing and communications at U.S. cable TV channel BBC America, including launching breakout original series Orphan Black and guiding the remarkably successful rejuvenation and American ascendency of historic sci-fi title Doctor Who through its iconic 50th anniversary global celebration, and for historic arts non-profit AIGA, the Professional Association for Design. Over the last year, he has worked as a marketing and brand strategy consultant for a variety of celebrated businesses, including the Grand Ole Opry, Blake Shelton’s Ole Red restaurants, public-private partnership state organization Launch Tennessee, and user-generated content showcase tool TINT. He hails from the Hudson Valley of New York state and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
In his role at the Academy, Levine is responsible for building and executing dynamic, competitive, and ambitious strategies for the organization’s digital portfolio, aiming to build and develop authentic communities across platforms with impactful short-form original content, refinement of voice and attitude, and integration and amplification of key influencers and thought leaders, synced with the organization’s larger programming and marketing efforts. Levine reports to Damon Whiteside, the CEO of the Academy.
Atlanta-born and Chicago-raised, Moore attended Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, where he graduated with a degree in Broadcasting and Electronic Communications. His life-long love for Country Music dovetailed professionally with an early job in country radio at WMIL-FM in Milwaukee, where he worked as a morning show production assistant. Moore joined the Academy in 2011, where he most recently served as Senior Director, Governance & Board Administration, a position that was absorbed into his current expanded role.
As Vice President, Artist & Industry Relations, Board Administration & Governance, he directs the overall Board communication of ACM. Moore also directs and manages ticketing for all ACM events. In his role, Moore spearheads artist communication and engagement within the Academy. He is a SOLID alumnus, class of 2014. He reports to Damon Whiteside, CEO of the Academy.
Atlanta-born and Tennessee-raised, Campbell first joined the Academy in 2015, most recently serving as Senior Video Manager, Creative & Content. Campbell graduated from Middle Tennessee State University where he studied Electronic Media Communications with a focus on single camera production. Prior to joining the Academy, Campbell spent six years freelancing in Nashville on various awards shows and joined Hunter Hayes' team as a full-time videographer for three years. During his time at the Academy, Campbell has contributed to media campaigns for the Academy and its partners CBS and dick clark productions to promote the ACM Awards, ACM Honors and ACM Lifting Lives, among other Academy initiatives.
In his role as Director, Creative & Content, Campbell will tap into his extensive video production experience, overseeing creative strategy, development and content production, heavily supporting Marketing and Partnership initiatives with original content, as well as collaborating with Digital Strategy & Engagement to develop cutting-edge social-native content. Campbell reports to Damon Whiteside, CEO.
Moldovan joined the Academy in 2015, fresh off a four-year stint at the nationally syndicated radio show The Big Time with Whitney Allen, where she worked as an assistant producer and fill-in co-host while simultaneously developing the show's social media marketing strategy. Her work there led to the creation of a social media staff position, which Moldovan undertook in addition to her other roles.
In her role as Senior Manager, Moldovan executes all ACM radio promotions and leads on Academy and ACM Lifting Lives press materials and marketing initiatives, to oversee ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp publicity, ACM Honors credentialing, and more. She reports to Damon Whiteside, CEO.
Chicago-born and Las Vegas-raised, Cirone first joined the Academy of Country Music in 2018, as Assistant for both the Marketing and Creative & Content departments, most recently serving as Coordinator, Marketing. Cirone graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she studied public relations and digital media and worked for both the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, WISN 12 News and Marquette Basketball. After graduating, Cirone moved back to Las Vegas where she worked at Wicked Creative, an entertainment, hospitality and lifestyle public relations firm. Cirone was a volunteer for the ACM Awards and ACM Party for a Cause® events in 2017 prior to her hire in 2018. In her time at the ACM, Cirone supported all publicity and marketing initiatives for the Academy and ACM Lifting Lives including over seeing red carpet media, press materials and more.
As Manager, Cirone will add digital publicity initiatives in addition to company publicity and communications. She reports to Melissa Moldovan, Senior Manager, Marketing.
Born and raised in Ventura County, Curtis joins the Academy after a three-year stint with Live Nation. Working as an executive editor for MegaCountry.com and editorial contributor to Setlist.fm, Curtis worked closely with both the editorial and post-production teams, as well as the production staff to create and expedite creative content, promote festival and ticket sales and introduce new social media marketing strategies.
In her role as Manager, Curtis will take lead on developing strategies for both ticket promotions and social media for Academy initiatives. She will also manage all digital marketing and advertising, and support developing partnerships with outside brands to increase tickets sales, maximize brand awareness and promote Awards tune in. She reports to Rory Levine, VP, Marketing and Digital Strategy & Engagement.
A Massachusetts native, Lanni Gagnon first joined the Academy of Country Music team as Coordinator of the Events department, and now serves as Manager.
Gagnon attended New York's Ithaca College where she studied communication management and design. She interned with the Academy's Event & Operations team for the 50th Annual ACM Awards, and after graduating in May 2015 relocated to Los Angeles for stints with Intern Queen, Inc., RGLive Events and George P. Johnson Experiential Marketing. During that time, she also freelanced with the ACM Events team on-site for two ACM Awards shows in Las Vegas.
In her role as Manager, Gagnon is responsible for various logistical and operational elements of the ACM Awards and ACM Party for a Cause Events – including event production, red carpet, food and beverage, transportation, signage, security, event décor and partnership fulfillment.
Born in Kokomo, Ind. and raised in both Shelby Township, Mich. and Allentown, Pa., Libby Gardner first joined the Academy full-time in 2019 as Coordinator, Creative & Content. Gardner attended Syracuse University where she received a bachelor's degree in Television, Radio, and Film. During her time at Syracuse, Gardner interned at the Academy in the Creative department and following her graduation in 2018, continued working for the Academy as a freelance field producer. Gardner has also worked as a production assistant on numerous television shows, ranging from an Investigation Discovery true crime series to the talk show, The Doctors.
In her role as Manager, Gardner oversees the day-to-day management of the Academy's website properties, photo archives, and A-List email blasts and serves as assistant editor of ACM Tempo. Gardner also acts as a field producer for the Academy's in-house video content and supervises both the digital and print creative content distributed by the Academy. Gardner reports to Brandon Campbell, Director, Creative & Content.
Pambukyan joined the Academy in 2018 as a Jr. Accountant, following turns at both Chase and Wells Fargo totaling nearly five years, in addition to accounting and administrative experience in the health care and automotive industries. A Los Angeles native, Pambukyan graduated with a master's degree in Business and Accounting from the University of Phoenix, with an emphasis on Finance and Risk Management. Pambukyan served as President of Birmingham Community Charter Business and Technology Senate and has won numerous service and sales/customer service awards.
In her role as Manager, Pambukyan supports all ACM financial initiatives and oversee office operations. She reports to Alexa Fasheh, Vice President of Finance & Operations
Originally from Petaluma, CA, Stessman spent four years on the East Coast where she studied broadcast and digital journalism at Syracuse University. Following that, Stessman kept busy with internships at NBC's Affiliate Marketing Department, The Meredith Vieira Show and The TODAY Show, as well as the Academy of Country Music, where she supported the Events team for the Academy's historic 50th Anniversary in Texas. Stessman joined the Academy full-time in fall 2016, where she served as Coordinator, Events and in 2018, she stepped in as Manager, Administration, a position that was absorbed into her current expanded role.
Stessman oversees administrative tasks; additionally, she provides direct support to the VP, Artist & Industry Relations, Board Administration & Governance with all board and industry communications and outreach, in addition to a special focus on artist engagement within the Academy. Stessman reports to Tommy Moore, Vice President, Artist & Industry Relations, Board Administration & Governance.
Born and raised in Brentwood, Tenn., Wolf attended Pepperdine University where she received a bachelor's degree in Science of Psychology. Following her graduation, Wolf pursued an opportunity at in the human resources department at Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare. She has also worked as a digital content contractor prior to her move to the ACM. Wolf joined the Academy under two years ago as Coordinator, ACM Lifting Lives.
Wolf reports to Lyndsay Cruz, Executive Director, Lifting Lives.
Born and raised in Laguna Hills, CA, Dunn graduated from the University of Southern California where she majored in Communications and minored in Organizational Leadership and Management. During most of her time at USC, Dunn worked for USC Football in the Recruiting department where she was responsible for recruiting the top prospective athletes for the football team. She also interned at the LA Chargers in the Community Relations and Corporate Partnerships departments, following her internship at Fox Sports in the Talent Relations and Production department.
In her role as Coordinator, she assists the Strategic Partnerships department and reports to Jen Heaton, Director, Strategic Partnerships.
Originally from Maine, Kellis graduated from Pepperdine University in Malibu where she studied Media Production. Upon graduating, she interned with companies such as A Rocha USA and Therapy Studios, where she assisted with both production and post-production. She then began to work at Vendetta/Apartment 3B Productions, where she handled script coverage and event preparation.
In her new position at the Academy, Hannah will oversee administrative tasks and other projects for the Creative & Content department. She reports to Brandon Campbell, Director, Creative & Content.
Poskanzer attended Ithaca College where she studied Integrated Marketing Communications. After graduating in December 2018, she relocated to Los Angeles and interned with the Academy's Marketing department during the 54th Annual ACM Awards and the 13th Annual ACM Honors. Prior to her internship with ACM, she gained industry experience interning in the promotion department at RCA records and as a Publicity intern at Atlantic Records.
In her role, she assists the Marketing team with all needs, with special attention to administrative and support duties, proofreading, culling media lists, press coverage and serving as a production assistant for all major events, among other duties. She reports to Rory Levine, VP, Marketing and Digital Strategy & Engagement.