LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After 30 years at Louisville Tourism, President & CEO Karen Williams has announced that she will retire at the end of June. Her accomplishments in the industry are many, from her start 40 years ago as a sales manager at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Atlanta, where she went on to open 18 hotels worldwide. She has served on boards of Leadership Louisville, Meeting Professionals International (MPI), and Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI). She also has served as an APEX Commissioner with the Events Industry Council (EIC); and as Chair for the Destination & Travel Foundation, a charitable organization for destination marketing executives. A career highlight was being awarded the Dan Mangeot award in 2012, which is given to an individual who has greatly contributed to Louisville’s tourism initiatives.
Williams told Trade Show Executive that she will always look back at her career with appreciation. “It has been a wonderful journey. I intend to stay involved and engaged in this industry that I love so much.”
Stepping into her shoes is Louisville Tourism’s Chief Operating Officer Cleo Battle, a 34-year industry veteran. Prior to coming to Louisville, Battle spent 12 years as Vice President of Sales & Services for the Richmond Convention & Visitors Bureau, where he has also held other posts. He began his hospitality career working for Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn and Sheraton Hotels.
“It would be impossible to overstate Karen Williams’ impact on the record tourism growth that Louisville has seen in recent years,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “Beyond being one of our community’s most optimistic, dynamic cheerleaders, Karen brought incredible skills, experience and sense of collaboration to the job. I will miss her for so many reasons, but I am confident in her board, the nationally recognized team they have built — and in her successor, Cleo Battle, who has worked alongside Karen for several years.”