NASHVILLE, TN (July 13, 2023) – The Academy of Country Music® is announcing new hires and promotions across several departments. Kris Reyes has been hired as Director, Finance and Operations; Kortney Toney has been hired as Manager, Programming & Community Engagement; Libby Gardner has been promoted to Senior Manager, Content & Editorial; Jesse Knutson has been promoted to Senior Manager, Publicity & Media Relations; Haley Montgomery has been promoted to Senior Manager, Awards & Membership; Taylor Wolf has been promoted to Senior Manager, ACM Lifting Lives; and Alexis Bingham has been promoted to Coordinator, Events.
Kris Reyes joins the Academy as Director, Finance & Operations. Reyes has previous experience in Operations Accounting at TravelCenters of America, where she worked for the past two decades. Originally from El Paso, Texas, Reyes has an education in MicroComputer Applications and Business Management and received her bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Phoenix.
In her role as Director, Reyes will focus on process improvements, team building, and policies and procedures, amongst other responsibilities, across the finance and operations of the Academy. She will also lead the Academy’s human resources efforts at the organization’s new Nashville headquarters. Reporting to Alexa Fasheh, VP Finance and Operations, Reyes will work across the Academy team to help implement and identify opportunities and can be reached here.
Kortney Toney joins the Academy as Manager, Programming & Community Engagement. Toney has worked in the music industry in Nashville for more than a decade, with focuses in marketing, communications, and the cross-culturalism spaces. Toney has previously worked at Opry Entertainment Group, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and Weller Media Agency, among other companies. She serves as a Governor of the Recording Academy’s Nashville Chapter, has been named to the Unmanageable Board of Directors, is the former President of the Women’s Music Business Association (WMBA), volunteers as a MusiCares Ambassador, is an alumna of the GRAMMY NEXT program, serves on the TedX Women’s Steering Committee, is a former CMA DEI committee member, and an alumna of the inaugural Women’s Leadership Academy. Prior to joining the Academy of Country Music, Toney served as a member of the inaugural ACM LEVel Up cohort, where she was instrumental in the launch of the OnRamp Program, a partnership between the Academy and the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC). Toney is originally from Huntsville, Alabama, and graduated from Lambuth University in Jackson, Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in Entertainment Music Industry and a minor in Film and Media.
In her role, Toney will support the Academy’s key diversity initiative programs including OnRamp, LEVel Up, and the DEI Task Force, as well as future efforts towards welcoming audiences to Country Music that transcend demographics and geography. Toney will engage the Nashville music community with ACM events and activities and identify pathways into Country Music. Toney reports to Tommy Moore, Vice President, Artist & Industry Relations and can be reached here.
Born in Kokomo, Indiana and raised in both Shelby Township, Michigan and Allentown, Pennsylvania, Libby Gardner has been promoted to Senior Manager, Content & Editorial. Gardner joined the Academy full-time in 2019 as Coordinator, Creative & Content and was promoted to Manager, Content & Editorial in 2021. Gardner attended Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication, where she received a bachelor's degree in Television, Radio, and Film. During her time at Syracuse, Gardner interned at the Academy with the Creative & Content team and continued working for the Academy as a freelance field producer following her graduation in 2018. Gardner is currently a member of SOLID’s Education Committee, a Music For Seniors Board Member, and the Events Co-Chair of the Women’s Music Business Association (WMBA).
In her role as Senior Manager, Gardner oversees the day-to-day management of the Academy’s owned media portfolio, including the Academy's web properties, branded social channels, short-form digital content, photo archives, and email newsletters. She also serves as editor of acclaimed quarterly membership magazine ACM Tempo, as well as writes and oversees the script for the industry-favorite ACM Honors show. Gardner reports to Rory Levine, Vice President, Marketing and Digital Strategy & Engagement and can be reached here.
A Seattle native with a background in TV News where he won multiple Emmy Awards, Jesse Knutson has been promoted to his new role, Senior Manager, Publicity & Media Relations. Knutson joined the Academy in January 2022 as Manager, Publicity & Media Relations and led the Academy’s publicity efforts for major live event tentpoles, including the innovative 57th and 58th ACM Awards on Prime Video, the first major awards show to livestream exclusively, and the 15th ACM Honors show, as well as Academy and ACM Lifting Lives organizational and programmatic initiatives. Jesse previously served as a TV reporter at Nashville’s NewsChannel 5 (WTVF), Seattle’s KING 5, and Harrisburg, PA’s WHP-TV, and served as a producer at Los Angeles’ KNBC.
In his role as Senior Manager, Knutson will continue to lead publicity and media relations efforts for the Academy of Country Music. Those responsibilities include publicity, promotional campaigns and strategies for raising awareness and coverage of the ACM Awards, Academy initiatives, programs and events, and ACM Lifting Lives philanthropic work. Knutson will draft press materials and work closely with the ACM marketing and events teams on logistics of red carpets and liaising with photographers and media, as well as organizational and programmatic priorities for the Academy. Knutson reports to Rory Levine, Vice President, Marketing and Digital Strategy & Engagement and can be reached here.
Haley Montgomery has been promoted to Senior Manager, Awards & Membership. Montgomery joined the Academy in 2020 as Manager, Awards & Membership after holding a variety of roles across the industry including brand partnerships, merchandise, brand development, touring, and industry relations. She is one of the founders of the Family Alliance in Music, which provides community and support to members of the industry who currently have families, serve as caretakers, or plan on building a family in the future.
In her role as Senior Manager, Montgomery will continue to focus on a wide array of award processes including nomination reviews, category definitions, expert category panels, voting processes and timing, and winner celebrations outside of the main award categories. On the membership side, she will continue to oversee recruitment of new members, programming, benefits, member communications, and marketing, and the development of a more inclusive and international membership base, building on her successful work leading the Academy to historic membership numbers. Montgomery reports to Tommy Moore, Vice President, Artist & Industry Relations, Board Administration & Governance and can be reached here.
Originally from Brentwood, Tennessee, Taylor Wolf has been promoted to her new role, Senior Manager, ACM Lifting Lives. Wolf attended Pepperdine University in California where she earned a bachelor's degree in Psychology. She joined ACM Lifting Lives in February 2019 as Coordinator of ACM Lifting Lives after working in the healthcare industry. Wolf was promoted to Manager of ACM Lifting Lives in 2020 and is currently serving her fourth term as Secretary of the ACM Lifting Lives Board.
In her role as Senior Manager, Wolf will continue to work in tandem with ACM Lifting Lives Executive Director Lyndsay Cruz and the ACM Lifting Lives Board of Directors to drive forward the mission of the organization. Wolf’s scope includes programmatic work such as ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp, strategic fundraising efforts, and beneficiary, partner, and industry relations. Wolf reports to Lyndsay Cruz and can be reached here.
Alexis Bingham has been promoted to Coordinator, Events after serving as Assistant, Events since 2021. Originally from Watkins Glen, New York, Bingham graduated from Ithaca College in December 2020, where she studied Communication, Management and Design. She was hired by the Academy as an Events intern and worked the 56th ACM Awards, 14th ACM Honors, and ACM Party for a Cause events before joining the staff full-time in October 2021.
In her role as Coordinator, Bingham will support red carpet planning, credentialing for ACM events, organizing and implementing health and safety protocols, and planning and executing the quarterly Academy Board meetings. She will work closely on budgets, décor, signage, transportation, food and beverage, partnership fulfillment, and talent details. Bingham reports to Lanni Niggli, Director, Events and can be reached here.
“The past year has been a truly historic one for the Academy, with extending the ACM Awards partnership with Amazon and moving the show to the Dallas Cowboys’ world headquarters in Texas for its second year on Prime Video, bringing ACM Honors back to TV, moving our headquarters to Nashville and opening a world-class hub in Wedgewood Houston, and achieving record membership numbers for the Academy. The promotions announced today reflect the hard work that so many individuals put in to make the Academy stronger than it’s ever been,” said Damon Whiteside, CEO of the Academy of Country Music. “Now that we’re firmly established in Nashville, we’re excited to continue to grow our team and support our staff to help fuel and further the momentum we built in 2022 and 2023 as we continue to work to further the genre, expand the audience and representation across the industry, and innovate as a leader in the Country Music space.”
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 nearly 5,000 nationwide, 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 is another monumental year for the Academy, with the ACM Awards having returned to Texas in May and streamed live for a global audience on Prime Video, still the only major awards show to livestream exclusively. 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 over the last year has launched 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 ACMcountry.com or ACMLiftingLives.org.