CMA has announced four promotions in support of ongoing operational and strategic growth. Tiffany Kerns has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Industry Relations & Philanthropy, Catharine McNelly has been elevated to Vice President, Communications, Ben Balch rises to Senior Director, Accounting & Financial Planning, and Michael Farris promotes to Senior Director, Business Strategy & Insights.  

“Tiffany, Catharine, Ben and Michael are all key strategic and forward-thinking leaders across a variety of teams at CMA,” says Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “They each display unwavering commitment to CMA’s mission while continuing to innovate and create solutions-based strategies in their respective fields.” 

Kerns, who joined CMA in 2013, will continue overseeing the strategic direction and management of CMA Membership including operations, programming, events and the organization’s newly launched membership structure. She will also continue shepherding Board of Directors activity and key CMA pipeline programs including CMA’s Women’s Leadership Academy, CMA’s collegiate programs (including CMA EDU and CMA’s Diversity & Inclusion Fellowship). Furthermore, Kerns will continue leading CMA’s community building and outreach efforts, ensuring the development of key partners that elevate CMA’s message and drive support of the Country Music industry overall. 

In addition to her executive role with Membership and Industry Relations, Kerns leads CMA’s philanthropic arm, the CMA Foundation as Executive Director. Kerns reports to CEO, Trahern. 

Kerns previously held the title of Vice President, Industry Relations & Philanthropy. Prior to joining CMA, she was the Director of Development at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Originally from Bradenton, FL, Kerns graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a degree in political science and a minor in business administration. Contact Kerns at [email protected]. 

Elevated to Vice President, Communications, McNelly takes on a greater strategic role with communications and talent relations efforts across all of CMA’s events, programs and initiatives. Having joined CMA in 2017, she also oversees PR and media activity for CMA membership and organizational initiatives, as well as CMA television properties—the CMA Awards, “CMA Fest” and “CMA Country Christmas”—corporate/executive profiles and talent outreach. In addition to these efforts, McNelly also leads communication planning and media support for the CMA Foundation. McNelly reports to  Senior Vice President, Marketing, Content & Communications Strategy, Kelly Striewski. 

McNelly previously held the title of Senior Director, Communications. Prior to joining CMA, she held positions with Atlantic Records and Columbia Records. Originally from Alton, IL, McNelly graduated from Fordham University with a degree in Communication and Media Studies. Contact McNelly at [email protected] 

Balch, who joined CMA in 2013, will continue to oversee reporting and financial standing for both CMA and the CMA Foundation in his new role as Senior Director, Accounting & Financial Planning. Balch also manages the annual budget process and periodic forecasts, as well as coordination of the annual audit team with outside auditors. He performs the monthly General Ledger closing processes, reviewing, and reconciling, as well as the monthly closing processes for Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable. Balch reports to Senior Vice President, Finance & Administration, Amy Smartt.

Prior to joining CMA, Balch worked for the Tractor Supply Company. Originally from Murfreesboro, TN, Balch graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in Accounting and a MBA. Contact Balch at [email protected]. 

In his elevated position of Senior Director, Business Strategy & Insights, Farris will further lead the Ticketing, Data Architecture and Insights teams. Responsible for ticket offerings, pricing, platform partners, sales strategies, ticket operations, and the development of premium offerings, Farris serves as the lead ticketing strategist for all of CMA’s events. He will also continue to lead the creation and buildout of CMA’s data warehouse and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform as well as develop strategies for data sources, reporting, and resources that support the growth and health of the Country Music industry worldwide. Previously referred to as Research, the newly formed Insights team will continue to serve as a trusted resource for data and insights regarding the Country Music audience, music consumption, and cultural trends/changes. Farris reports to Vice President, Business Strategy & Operations, Emily Evans. 

Farris worked for The Aspire Group, Inc, prior to joining CMA. Originally from Louisville, KY, Farris received his undergraduate degree from Northern Kentucky University and a MBA from the University of Central Florida. Contact Farris at [email protected]. 

Tiffany Kerns, CMA Senior Vice President, Industry Relations & Philanthropy  

Photo Credit: Nora Canfield 

Catharine McNelly, CMA Vice President, Communications  

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Catharine McNelly 

Ben Balch, CMA Senior Director, Accounting & Financial Planning 

Photo Credit: John Russell/CMA 

Michael Farris, Senior Director, Business Strategy & Insights  

Photo Credit: John Russell/CMA