NASHVILLE – The Country Music Association announced today the new Board of Directors. The appointments are effective on Jan. 1, 2017.

John Esposito completes his term as Chairman of the CMA Board and current CMA Board President Sally Williams, Vice President and General Manager of Ryman Auditorium, assumes that post. CMA President-Elect Bill Simmons, Partner at The Fitzgerald Hartley Company, will become President. Jody Williams, Vice President of Writer-Publisher Relations at BMI, has been named President-Elect. Kurt Johnson, Senior Vice President of Programming for Townsquare Media, has been named Secretary/Treasurer of the CMA Board.

“It has been my great honor to serve as Chairman of the CMA Board,” said Esposito. “It has been an especially great thrill to have served on this historic 50th Anniversary of the CMA Awards. Working with this Board and the great people who serve on it has been a major highlight of my career. I look forward to continuing to remain very active with CMA in other capacities. The Board is in great hands with Sally Williams as the incoming Chairman. She will further the mission of this organization.”

“2016 was a monumental year for CMA. We celebrated a half century of Country Music with a brilliant 50th Anniversary Awards broadcast and the groundbreaking ‘Forever Country’ song and video. Hats off to John Esposito, Sarah Trahern, and the entire CMA staff for exceeding all expectations,” said Williams.  “The stage certainly is set for Country Music to enjoy growth not only domestically but also internationally. I’m excited about collaborating with Bill Simmons, Jody Williams, and the rest of the Board as we continue to work toward that vital goal.”

Williams is the General Manager of the Ryman Auditorium, a National Historic Landmark. She also serves as Vice President, Concerts & Entertainment for the Opry Entertainment Group. Under her tenure, the Ryman has garnered multiple awards, including the CMA SRO Award (now CMA Touring Awards) for Venue of the Year (2012-2015); Pollstar Magazine’s Theatre of the Year (2010-2015); and the International Entertainment Buyers Association’s Venue of the Year (2009, 2014) and Theatre of the Year (2016). Williams was chosen as Pollstar Magazine’s Facility Executive of the Year (2013, 2014); the International Entertainment Buyers Association’s Venue Executive of the Year (2012, 2015); and the Academy of Country Music’s 2014 Don Romeo Talent Buyer of the Year and 2010 Promoter of the Year. She also was a Source Awards honoree in 2015 and was acknowledged by the Nashville Business Journal as one of the “Women in Music City” honorees in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Williams began managing the Ryman in 2008 and is only the eighth person to hold the role in the venue’s 120 year history. She began her career promoting concerts while in college. She went on to work for promoters Contemporary Productions, Jam Productions, and Pace Concerts as well as booking agency the William Morris Agency. In 1999 she joined Gaylord Entertainment and spent seven years managing concerts and other events for the Opry Entertainment Complex. After a brief stint at CMA, Williams returned to Gaylord as the Ryman’s General Manager. Since then she has led the Ryman in promoting concerts ranging from Aretha Franklin to Zac Brown Band and recently oversaw a multi-million dollar expansion, renovation, and tour improvement project. Williams also is co-producing “Moonshine – That Hee Haw Musical,” a musical comedy inspired by the television show “Hee Haw.”

Williams is the Past-President of Leadership Music and a member of the Music City Music Council. She also serves on the boards of the Nashville Downtown Partnership and the Opry Trust Fund. She is a member of the Academy of Country Music, the Americana Music Association, the International Association of Venue Managers and the International Entertainment Buyers Association. Williams is a graduate of the IAVM Public Assembly Facility Management School and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Simmons is a partner at The Fitzgerald Hartley Co. where he has been an artist manager for more than 20 years, 13 of which he has worked with Brad Paisley. He has also managed the careers of Brett James, The Kinleys, Jerrod Niemann, Kellie Pickler, Restless Heart, Chris Young, and others. A graduate of the University of Mississippi with a degree in psychology and political science, Simmons began his career in social services but soon turned his attention to the music business when he met Country singer-songwriter Paul Davis and moved to Atlanta to work at Bang Records. Soon after he moved to Nashville and after a couple tour manager gigs he began working with Restless Heart and the management opportunity became available at Fitzgerald Hartley.

Simmons has served on the CMA Board since 2011, serving on multiple committees including Executive, Finance and Audit, Marketing, Television, and others. He is a member of the Academy of Country Music and is also on the Executive Committee and an officer on the board of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Following is a list of 2017 CMA Directors and Directors at Large:

Directors By Membership Category
Carryover Directors, who are serving the second year of a two-year term are listed below along with newly-elected Directors (indicated in bold).

Advertising/Public Relations/Media
Lon Helton, Country Aircheck
Brian Philips, CMT

Steve Buchanan, Opry Entertainment
Bill Mayne, Country Radio Broadcasters, Inc.

Kix Brooks
Karen Fairchild, Little Big Town

Bob DiPiero, Love Monkey Music
Shane McAnally, SMACKSongs, LLC

Entertainment Services
Frank Bumstead, Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy, Inc.
Dwight Wiles, Wiles + Taylor & Co., PC

Maria Molin Ljunggren, Capitol Music Group Sweden, Stockholm, Sweden
Milly Olykan, AEG Europe/The O2 London, London, United Kingdom

John Marks, Spotify
Sally Seitz, iTunes

Music Publisher/Performing Rights Organization
Michael Martin, ASCAP
Jody Williams, BMI

Jimmie Lee Sloas
Biff Watson, Biff-Bangs Productions, Inc.

Personal Manager
Ann Edelblute, The HQ
Marion Kraft, ShopKeeper Management

Luke Laird, Creative Nation Music

Charlie Morgan, Emmis Communications, New York, N.Y.

Record Company
John Esposito, Warner Music Nashville
Randy Goodman, Sony Music Nashville

Talent Agent
Rob Beckham, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, LLC

Talent Buyer/Promoter
Allen Anders, AEG Live, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Tony Conway, Conway Entertainment Group

Touring Personnel
Terry Calonge, Richards & Southern
Everett Lybolt, Sound Image

Sally Williams, Ryman Auditorium

Lifetime Directors
J. William Denny, Denny Properties
Ralph Peer II, peermusic

Ex-Officio Members
Jim Free, The Smith-Free Group, LLC, Washington, D.C.
Butch Spyridon, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation
Kyle Young, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Directors at Large:
Marcie Allen, MAC Presents, LLC, New York, N.Y.
Jim Beavers
Steve Blatter, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, New York, N.Y.
Scott Borchetta, Big Machine Label Group
Becky Brenner, Albright & O’Malley & Brenner Country Radio Specialists, Seattle, Wash.
Chris DuBois, Sea Gayle Music
Mike Dungan, Universal Music Group Nashville
Kerri Edwards, KP Entertainment
Brett Eldredge
Ted Ellis, Harbour Media Partners, Ontario, Canada
Joe Galante, Galante Entertainment Organization
Jeff Garrison, Cox Media Group, San Antonio, Texas
John Hamlin, Switched On Entertainment
Ed Hardy, Hardy Media and Entertainment Group
Clint Higham, Morris Higham Management
Mary Hilliard Harrington, Red Light Management
John Huie, Creative Artists Agency
Clay Hunnicutt, Big Loud Records
Brett James, Cornman Music
Kurt Johnson, Townsquare Media, Dallas, Texas
Vivien Lewit, YouTube/Google, New York, N.Y.
Jon Loba, BBR Music Group
Deb McDermott, Media General
Ebie McFarland, Essential Broadcast Media
Mike McVay, Cumulus Media, Atlanta
Jim Ed Norman, The Curb Group
Brian O’Connell, Live Nation Nashville
Jason Owen, Sandbox Entertainment
Rod Phillips, iHeartMedia
Rob Potts, Rob Potts Entertainment Edge, Five Dock, Australia
David Ross, BossRoss Media
Darius Rucker
Stacey Schiltz, SchlitzLAW
Scott Scovill, Moo TV, CenterStaging, and Moo Creative Media
Bob Shennan, BBC, London, United Kingdom
Bill Simmons, The Fitzgerald Hartley Company
Jennie Smythe, Girlilla Marketing
Clarence Spalding, Maverick
Jeff Stevens, Jeff Stevens Music
Troy Tomlinson, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Ben Vaughn, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
Troy Vollhoffer, Premier Global Production Company, Inc.
Tim Westergren, Pandora, Oakland, Calif.
Chris Young

More than 7,400 music industry professionals and companies around the globe are members of the Country Music Association. Formed in 1958 as the first trade association for a single genre of music, the organization’s objectives are to serve as an educational and professional resource for the industry while advancing the growth of Country Music around the world. This is accomplished through CMA’s strategic imperatives: CMA Music Festival and the companion CMA Music Festival television special; the CMA Awards, which are recognized as Country Music’s Biggest Night™; and “CMA Country Christmas,” featuring the songs of the holidays. All of CMA’s TV properties air on the ABC Television Network through 2021. For information about CMA visit