Oscars: Academy Empowers Members to Select Half of Executive Committees (Exclusive)

Academy Awards Stage H 2016
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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is taking further steps to make its internal system of governance more democratic.

Each of the organization's roughly 7,000 members belong to one of 17 branches, and each branch is represented by three members on the board of governors, as well as a varying number of members on an executive committee. The primary responsibilities of the executive committees are deciding on new members to invite to join each branch in the summer and determining rules surrounding awards voting.

The executive committees, which meet infrequently, have, until now, been led by the governors and comprised exclusively of branch members handpicked by those governors. But in an email to members sent by Academy CEO Dawn Hudson on Tuesday afternoon, it was announced that the board of governors has voted to empower members to vote to pick half of the members of their respective branch's executive committee to help "ensure the committee represents all facets of the branch."

Beginning July 25, all members, including individuals invited in late June who have already accepted their invitation, will have the opportunity to go onto the Academy's secure website, review a list of all of their branch's members and vote for up to 10. The highest vote-getters from each branch will then fill half of the relevant executive committee seats. And the new board of governors, including the 17 members whose election was announced on Monday, will then decide the rest of each committee's makeup after the new board's first meeting in August.

The Academy's latest move is consistent with its stated goal of promoting greater — and, ideally, more diverse — member involvement in the leadership and oversight of the organization, which has been governed primarily by older white men throughout its history. Hudson wrote, "The enthusiasm you have shown for the transformative changes we are making to the Academy’s way of doing business has been deeply inspiring."