The T.J. Martell Foundation is grateful for the excellent partnership with BMI that was established in 1992 by Frances W. Preston, their President and CEO from 1986 to 2004. She was the recipient of its 1992 Humanitarian Award and served as president of the Foundation's Board of Directors for sixteen years. Preston's leadership in the T.J. Martell Foundation's groundbreaking work in cancer research was recognized in early 1999 by the Society for the Advancement of Women's Health Research, an organization that focuses the attention of policymakers on funding for women's health issues.
Preston had been called "one of the true powerhouses in the pop music business" by Fortune magazine, and had been honored as an executive who has "helped shape the entire music industry." She focused her attention on talent and ensured that songwriters, composers, and music publishers were quickly and accurately compensated for their efforts. Esquire magazine called her "the most influential and powerful person in the country music business."
Preston united the music community in her hometown of Nashville, TN by establishing the Foundation's Nashville office. Her love for country music and songwriters was the inspiration in the creation of the annual fundraising ski event, Country in the Rockies, in Crested Butte, Colorado. Her dedicated involvement led to the creation of the Frances Williams Preston Research Laboratories at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, a cancer research lab named in her honor. Preston also has a building named in her honor at the Cancer Center.
Succeeding Preston as President and CEO starting in 2004, Del Bryant, (who joined BMI in 1972 and was the son of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, a husband-wife songwriter team who generated a string of hits that earned them numerous accolades and industry awards) continued the supportive collaboration between BMI and the T.J. Martell Foundation and was recognized with the Spirit of Excellence Award at the T.J. Martell Foundation’s 37th New York Honors Gala in 2012.
On Tuesday, October 15, 2019, the T.J. Martell Foundation is proud to honor President & CEO of BMI, Mike O’Neill with the prestigious T.J. Martell Foundation Legacy Award at the 44th Annual New York Honors Gala at Cipriani. “I’m incredibly proud of the long-standing history between BMI and the T.J. Martell Foundation,” Mike tells us. “When BMI’s former President & CEO, the late Frances Preston, hired me 25 years ago, her dedication and passion for the T.J. Martell Foundation and its mission were evident. She would go on to serve as the Foundation’s first female Board member and later its President. Del Bryant, BMI’s prior President & CEO, was also an ardent supporter of the T.J. Martell Foundation through the years. And now I’m humbled and honored to carry that torch. Following in Frances and Del’s footsteps, who were both also honored by the T.J. Martell Foundation, is an extraordinary achievement to me. BMI is committed to continuing to support the T.J. Martell Foundation, whose vital work benefits so many families in need of help and makes a meaningful difference in their lives.”