Sarah Trahern Named CMA Chief Executive Officer
The CMA Board of Directors has named music and television industry veteran Sarah Trahern as CMA’s Chief Executive Officer, effective Jan. 1, 2014. She joins CMA from Scripps Networks Interactive’s Great American Country (GAC) where she has been Senior Vice President and General Manager.
“The CMA Board Search Committee, chaired by Board Secretary/Treasurer and Warner Music Nashville President and CEO, John Esposito, conducted a thoughtful, thorough nationwide search to find the best possible candidates – and there were many. But, not surprisingly, the best person was right here in our industry in Nashville,” said Troy Tomlinson, Chairman of the CMA Board of Directors. “Sarah possesses the leadership skills, diverse qualities, relationships, and extensive experience necessary to collaborate with the CMA Board of Directors to expand the mission and strategic objectives of the CMA while being mindful of the unique legacy and spirit of the organization. She is not only well-known in the Country Music and television world, but a highly respected executive with strong relationships with many of our members, including record labels, managers, publicists, publishers, and Country artists as well. We are so thrilled that she was ultimately interested in assuming this very important role, leading the CMA.”
Trahern said, “I moved to Nashville in 1995 to combine my experience in live television with my passion for music and especially, Country Music. Now, years later, to be able to serve as leader of the Country Music Association is an exciting challenge. I look forward to collaborating with the Board, the management team, staff, and the membership to continue to grow our genre in multiple arenas. It’s an exciting and dynamic time in the Country Music business with tremendous growth opportunities as well as an ever changing marketplace. The ratings success of the CMA Awards last week is indicative of the strength of our genre across multiple demographic groups.”
Since July 1, 2013 CMA Board President Ed Hardy has assumed that leadership role as the board liaison with the staff and management of the CMA on a day-to-day basis and will continue to do so until Trahern transitions into the position. Tomlinson said, “Words cannot express the deep appreciation that the CMA Board of Directors, management, and staff feel for the leadership and hard work Ed Hardy has contributed during this interim period. We look forward to him being engaged in the leadership of the CMA Board going forward.”
As CEO, Trahern will work closely with the CMA Board to develop and execute strategies and long-range plans for the continued growth of the organization as well as manage external business relationships including the Association’s network television partner ABC and numerous corporate partners.
CMA Board President Hardy said, “I’ve known Sarah for nine years and worked with her for eight of those years, after hiring her at Scripps Networks. Her deep roots in our industry, her passion for Country Music and her leadership skills and style are among the reasons I selected Sarah as my successor at GAC. They are also the reasons she is the perfect choice for this vitally important role leading the CMA. I look forward to working with her again in my leadership role on the CMA Board over the next year. It has been a real honor and pleasure for me to have gotten to know and work side by side with the talented, hard-working and dedicated management and staff of the CMA in this interim leadership role.”
Trahern has more than 27 years of experience in the network television business, 18 years of it producing or overseeing Country Music programming. As Senior Vice President and General Manager of Scripps Networks Interactive’s GAC, Great American Country, she has been responsible for the strategic direction of the network and oversees all aspects of the network including programming, marketing, creative, and digital. In 2010, she was named one of 30 Woman “Power Players” in the music business by Billboard Magazine. In December 2011, she was the subject and honoree of the Louise Scruggs Memorial Forum at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. She was recently recognized by Source as a top leader in the music business.
Trahern moved to Nashville in 1995 to oversee specials and entertainment series for TNN. She began her cable career at C-SPAN in Washington, D.C. covering politics and public affairs and producing the popular series “Booknotes.” She joined GAC in 2005 with Scripps’ ownership of the network. She was promoted to SVP of Programming and in 2010, General Manager of the network. She assumed senior leadership duties in January of 2013 with the retirement of GAC President Ed Hardy.
She is a board member and immediate past chair of the Academy of Country Music Association, a member of the Advisory Board of All About Women, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Monroe Carell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. She recently participated in the Department of Defense’s 84th class in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference and is a graduate of Women in Cable Television (WICT)’s Betsy Magness Leadership Institute.
Trahern is a graduate of Georgetown University and has an MBA from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt. A native of Champaign-Urbana, Ill., she resides in Nashville with her husband Wayne Flatt.