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Former Louisville CVB VP named interim as president steps down

Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau President and CEO Jim Wood has resigned and previous Vice President Karen Williams will take his place in the interim, beginning Jan. 29.
After 11 years of service, Wood sent in his resignation, which was accepted by the Commission of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau at a board meeting.

During his tenure, Wood led Louisville’s tourism efforts as an economic development organization directed on drawing in meetings, conventions and leisure travel to the Greater Louisville area. In all aspects of its fiscal and daily operation, Wood represented the city at industry tradeshows and conferences and provided critical leadership and oversight of the Bureau.

“Jim Wood has brought Louisville unparalleled success when it comes to attracting conventions. We are certainly going to miss Jim’s enthusiasm. His innovative ideas will be pay dividends in this community for years to come,” said Michael Howerton, board chair, Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Working in the hospitality industry for 44 years, Wood led the winning efforts to bring many important industry tradeshows to Louisville including the recent hosting of the record-setting FFA at an economic impact of more than $40 million annually. Other accomplishments include the awarding of the American Bus Association annual conference in 2016. Wood also had an important part in signing long term contracts with many conventions including the upcoming SkillsUSA Convention coming 2015-2020.

Wood came to the bureau after serving as the president and CEO of the Greater Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau and vice president of convention sales and marketing at the Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“The convention and tourism industry is a key driver of Louisville’s economy and our national and international image. Under Jim Wood’s leadership, both have grown significantly,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “Our city thanks him for his many years of service.”

Assuming the interim role of president following Wood’s resignation is Karen Williams. Working in the hospitality industry for 32 years beginning as a sales manager at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Atlanta, Williams opened 18 hotels worldwide and then returned to Louisville serving 23 years at the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau, retiring as executive vice president in 2012.

“We are thrilled that Karen can step in quickly to ensure we do not miss a beat on maximizing tourism growth and economic development,” said Board Chair Michael Howerton.

For the next 90 days, Williams will represent the Louisville Bureau at industry tradeshows and conferences and provide strategic leadership and oversight of the Bureau in all aspects of its fiscal and daily operation.

Most recently, Williams has been working with leading hospitality industry clients as a consultant with her destination marketing company, Inspired, and also serving as director of industry relations for Schneider Publishing, a best-of-class organization among the meetings-industry media.

Williams received the Dan Mangeot award in 2012 for her diverse achievements and lengthy hospitality career.

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