CMA Announces Promotions, Hirings

The Country Music Association has announced several promotions and hew hires.

Ben Balch has been promoted to Director, Accounting & Financial Planning; Mary Overend to Director, Marketing & Consumer Engagement; Kris Kennedy to Live Events Producer; Chris Harrington to Senior Manager, Live Events; Brenden Oliver to Senior Manager, Awards & Industry Relations; Greg Pitman to Senior Manager, Production; Angi Brown to Accounts Payable Manager; MaryAnn Dicks to Finance & Administration Manager; Haley Steinbuchel to Partnerships Project Manager; Katie Storey to Live Events Project Manager; Lisa Valentine to Communications Project Manager; and Taylor Viegut to Digital Marketing Project Manager.

CMA has also announced the addition of Melissa Hewett as Vice President, Human Resources; Sara Stile as Marketing & Media Manager; Julie Anne Jacobs as Communications Coordinator; and Michael Jennings as Marketing Coordinator. Katherine Wong, formerly Marketing & Social Coordinator, has assumed a new position as International Relations Coordinator.

Ben Balch

Balch joined CMA as Accounting Services Manager before moving to Senior Manager, Budgets, and now Director, Accounting & Financial Planning. In his new role, Balch is responsible for reporting CMA’s and the CMA Foundation’s financial standing, managing the annual budget and performing the monthly closing processes for both accounts payable and accounts receivable as well as the general ledger. He earned his Master’s degree in Finance from Middle Tennessee State University. Balch reports to Amy Smartt, Senior Vice President, Finance & Administration.


Mary Overend

Overend’s new position as Director, Marketing & Consumer Engagement will include overseeing social media, email marketing and messaging strategy for CMA. In her previous role as Senior Manager, Digital Marketing, Overend handled project management as well as social media and email marketing. She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications. Overend reports to Catherine Frizzell, Senior Director, Marketing.



Kris Kennedy

Kennedy has worked for CMA for over 20 years, starting as Special Projects Assistant. In her new role as Live Events Producer, Kennedy is responsible for managing key functional areas within CMA Live Events, including CMA Fest, CMA Awards, CMA Country Christmas and additional CMA events and meetings. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Music Business from Belmont University. Kennedy reports to Chris Crawford, Senior Director, Live Events.


Chris Harrington

Moving from Live Events Manager to Senior Manager, Live Events, Harrington will oversee event ticketing and provide support for all CMA events. With 15 years of experience in the sports and entertainment field, Harrington has worked with the Washington Capitals, Nashville Predators and CMA. He graduated from Marymount University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Communications. Harrington reports to Crawford.



Brenden Oliver

In his new role as Senior Manager, Awards & Industry Relations, Oliver will continue to work closely with CMA Awards balloting, Country Music Hall of Fame elections, CMA Broadcast Awards, CMA Touring Awards and additional awards presented by CMA. He will also recruit new members, as well as coordinate membership events, artist visits and assist in managing the CMA KixStart Artist Scholarship program. Oliver started in the department in 2011 as an intern, before being hired fulltime in 2012. He graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor’s degree in Human and Organizational Development with a concentration in Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness. He reports to Brandi Simms, Senior Director, Awards & Industry Relations.

Greg Pitman

With more than 20 years of production experience, Pitman will now serve as Senior Manager, Production, acting as the main contact for all aspects of live event production. Along with the Live Events team, he will continue to manage CMA events from concept and implementation to live show and load out. Pitman has served as CMA’s Production Manager for the last seven years. He holds a degree in Radio Broadcasting and Engineering from Brown Institute. Pitman reports to Crawford.



Angi Brown

In her new role as Accounts Payable Manager, Brown will assist in reporting CMA’s financial standing through the management of the Accounts Payable accounting process. Additionally, she will be assisting with the annual budget process and preparation of other financial reports. She previously held the position of Accounting Coordinator. Brown has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University. She reports to Balch.



MaryAnn Dicks

In her new role as Finance & Administration Manager, Dicks will oversee accounts receivable, assist with budgeting and reports, as well as handle all paperwork and payroll for temporary hires. She joined the department in 2012 as Finance & Administration Coordinator. Dicks received her Associate’s degree from Washtenaw Community College. She reports to Balch.



Haley Steinbuchel

As Partnerships Project Manager, Steinbuchel will assist in the development and management of CMA’s event-specific and corporate-level partners, along with the planning and execution of the CMA Brand Marketing Summit and other events targeted at growing brand partnership opportunities for the Country Music community. Steinbuchel previously held the position of Strategic Partnerships Coordinator, and will continue to report to Emily Evans, Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships.


Katie Storey

Transitioning from Live Events Coordinator to Live Events Project Manager, Storey brings an extensive amount of live events experience to her new role. She will now oversee credentialing for all CMA events, as well as manage budgets and catalog all vendor information. Storey is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Business. She reports to Crawford.



Lisa Valentine

In her new position as Communications Project Manager, Valentine will facilitate communications for CMA’s international initiatives and the CMA Foundation, as well as continuing to serve as Managing Editor for the organization’s member magazine, CMA Close Up. Valentine previously held the position of Communications Coordinator. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Public Relations from the Frederick M. Supper Honors Program at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Valentine reports to Catharine McNelly, Senior Director, Communications.


Taylor Viegut

In her new role as Digital Marketing Project Manager, Viegut will focus on the success and optimization of the CMA mobile app, New Music Friday initiatives, CMA’s presence on streaming platforms and Google advertising initiatives. She will also work cross-departmentally to support additional marketing strategies. She previously served as Digital Marketing Coordinator. Viegut graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications and Communications Arts. She reports to Overend.


Melissa Hewett

Hewett has worked with CMA as a human resources consultant since 2017, but now will serve full time as Vice President, Human Resources. She will be responsible for directing all personnel functions within CMA. Hewett received a Master’s degree in Human Resource Development from Vanderbilt University. Hewett reports to Sarah Trahern, Chief Executive Officer.



Sara Stile

As Marketing & Media Manager, Stile will assist in developing and implementing marketing, promotional, and advertising campaigns for CMA events through traditional and digital media outlets, including TV, radio and online. Stile is also responsible for managing merchandise e-commerce and on-site business throughout the year. Having joined CMA in March as a consultant, she brings nine years of experience in experiential marketing, artist management and music festival event production. She has a Master’s degree in Music Business from New York University and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Ohio University. Stile reports to Frizzell.

Julie Anne Jacobs

Jacobs joins CMA full time as Communications Coordinator, having previously interned with the department in 2018. In her new role, she will create and manage the distribution of press releases, maintain media relationships, oversee temporary media staff and assist with media logistics and credentialing for all CMA events. Jacobs previously worked for Edelman in Atlanta, where she coordinated media opportunities to enhance the company’s marketing efforts. She has a Master’s degree in Business Administration as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Auburn University. Jacobs reports to McNelly.


Michael Jennings

Jennings joins CMA as Marketing Coordinator, where he will develop and implement ticket sales campaigns for CMA’s annual events through traditional media outlets as well as through online and social networking mediums. Additionally, he will manage creative assets along with website and CMA mobile app updates. Jennings previously worked in Chicago, handling digital sales for ESPN. He received a Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in Marketing from the Eli Broad School of Business. Jennings reports to Bobby Dirienzo, Digital Marketing Manager.


Katherine Wong

In Wong’s new position as International Relations Coordinator, she will provide project management support for CMA’s international initiatives including the organization’s television properties and touring series, as well as international relations and partners. Wong previously served as Marketing & Social Coordinator. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Marketing from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Wong reports to Milly Olykan, Vice President, International Relations & Development.


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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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