In an unexpected move, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has selected Dawn Hudson, the current head of Film Independent, to serve as its new CEO. She will head the Academy in tandem with Ric Robertson, its current executive director, who has been named COO. Together, they will replace Bruce Davis, who is retiring as the organization’s longtime executive director.
Under a new executive structure, Hudson will serve as CEO, while Robertson will become COO, with Robertson reporting to Hudson.
The Academy’s board of governors, which has been searching for a replacement for Davis since he announced in October that he would retire in June, voted on the new leadership at a meeting Thursday night.
Academy president Tom Sherak said that the new structure for the Academy’s executive staff had occurred to the officers of the organization as they began seriously considering the succession issue.
“We’re a different organization than we used to be,” Sherak said, “with a range of activities that couldn’t have been conceived of when the present structure came into place. Now, with the leadership team of Dawn as our CEO and Ric as our COO, we have the ideal combination of new vision and institutional continuity to move us forward.”
“The Academy is the gold standard for the world’s most influential art form, and I am humbled by what the Board of Governors, the Academy members and the staff have accomplished under Bruce Davis' leadership,” Hudson said. “I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with Ric, and to carry the Academy's mission forward into the future.”
As head of Film Independent, Hudson has overseen the growth of the Spirit Awards, which rewards indie film and is traditionally held the day before the Oscars, as well as the Los Angeles Film Festival.
Robertson joined the Academy in 1981 following a short stint with the Los Angeles International Film Exposition (FILMEX) and became the organization’s second-in-command in 1989, when he was appointed executive administrator. In that position, he has overseen the Academy’s public programming, its library and film archive as well as its public relations, marketing, legal affairs and numerous awards-related events and activities.
"Having Bruce as a mentor has been tremendously valuable to me,” Robertson said. “It will serve me well as I move into this new management position and partnership with Dawn, as we help to write the Academy’s next chapter.”
Hudson and Robertson will assume their new positions June 1.