UA’s Plank Center partnering with Country Music Association on DEI fellowship  

Maven Navarro, Staff Reporter

The University of Alabama’s Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations is partnering with the Country Music Association to offer a Diversity and Inclusion Fellowship for students attending the University, along with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Belmont University.  

The Diversity and Inclusion fellowship will give students an opportunity to gain experience working with the Country Music Association’s communication team during the 50th anniversary of the CMA Fest in June. Students chosen will start working in April, partnering with cross-departmental teams leading up to the event. 

The program was developed by Tiffany Kerns, the CMA vice president of industry relations and philanthropy, and Kenon Brown, an associate professor of advertising and public relations at the University.  

“Tiffany Kerns approached me a couple of years ago and wanted to talk about developing a program that could resolve a huge void in the country music industry,” Brown said. “We are starting to see an influx of minority artists and we aren’t really seeing that same diversity behind the scenes. Tiffany and I, along with a committee of other people, came up with this fellowship to give underrepresented minorities an opportunity to work behind the scenes at one of the biggest events in country music, which is the CMA Fest.” 

Following the CMA Fest, participants will be paired with a country music publicity partner on a six-week assignment while living in Nashville. Students will participate in multiple sessions and programs led by leaders in the field, along with Nashville-based media and talent partners.  

“We recognize that in order for our industry to further build an inclusive future, we have to create a multitude of pipelines for diverse talent to reach us,” Kerns said in a press release.  

The application for the fellowship can be found on the CMA website, and will be open until Friday, Feb. 24. 

“We really want students who are willing to be a leader, somebody that is willing to be proactive, and somebody that’s willing to step up and really share their voice with the industry,” Brown said. “We are looking for someone who is really driven with a hard work ethic who is looking to make a name for themselves in the industry.”