Universal Music Group has appointed Dr Menna Demessie as SVP and executive director of the company’s global Task Force for Meaningful Change (TFMC).
TFMC was established in June 2020 by UMG’s Chairman and CEO, Sir Lucian Grainge, as a force for social justice in the music industry and beyond.
Dr Demessie, a political scientist and social justice advocate with a track record of civic and educational empowerment, will manage the TFMC and its activities.
The company also announced that UMG’s EVP, chief people and inclusion officer, Eric Hutcherson, will join Jeff Harleston, general counsel and EVP business & legal affairs, UMG and interim CEO, Def Jam Records, and Ethiopia Habtemariam, president, Motown Records, as a co-chair of the Task Force for Meaningful Change.
Ethiopia Habtemariam said: “From the start, we’ve been energised by the commitment and passion of the TFMC – an organisation powered by UMG executives from across the company who volunteer their time for this important work. We’re excited to welcome Dr Demessie to the UMG family and to have the benefit of her experience in social justice work and as a leader at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, to help advance the ongoing efforts of the TFMC to drive meaningful, long-term change.”
“Over the past year we have seen the best of humanity rise up to deal with the worst of ongoing racial and social injustices around the world,” said Jeff Harleston. “It was out of this need that the TFMC was created and we’re proud of what we have accomplished in our first seven months. Having Dr Demessie join UMG and oversee the TFMC’s efforts is a further statement of our commitment to the fight for equality and social justice.”
“Dr Demessie has demonstrated over the course of her illustrious career her commitment to social justice and a studied understanding of diversity and inclusion, public policy and government, human rights and international relations,” said Eric Hutcherson. “Her perspective will enhance the reach of what the TFMC can accomplish and we’re excited to have her join us in our efforts.”
It’s been incredible watching what UMG’s TFMC has accomplished over the past seven months
Dr Menna Demessie
Dr Demessie said: “It’s been incredible watching what UMG’s TFMC has accomplished over the past seven months. From the voter initiatives, civic engagement and community support through charitable giving to new internal programs, UMG has demonstrated a commitment to real, lasting change and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of this organization. I want to thank Sir Lucian, Jeff, Eric and Ethiopia for this opportunity and their support as we continue the important work of the TFMC.”
Prior to joining UMG, Dr Demessie served as SVP of policy analysis & research and the Leadership Institute at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, where she led on initiatives affecting African Americans and the global Black community in areas including education, criminal justice, economic opportunity, voting rights and public health for the past nine years.
Dr Demessie has spearheaded several partnerships with the White House, the US Congress and recently led CBCF efforts to establish the National Racial Equity Initiative for Social Justice. She is a published race and ethnic politics expert and one of five US scholars to receive the prestigious American Political Science Congressional Fellowship in 2010.
Dr Demessie also served on Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s legislative staff working on federal unemployment legislation, anti-poverty initiatives and foreign affairs. She is a twice-elected alumni board member of the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and currently serves on the American Political Science Association Council and the Board of Trustees at Western Reserve Academy. She is also a member of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.
As an Adjunct Professor for the University of California Washington Center, Dr Demessie teaches courses on race and ethnic politics, Black Lives Matter and social movements, and public opinion and public policy.