The Commission of the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau permanently welcomed back a veteran hospitality industry executive as the head of the city’s tourism agency.
Karen Williams assumes the duties of president and CEO after serving as interim following the departure of Jim Wood this past January. She will represent the Bureau at industry tradeshows and conferences and provide strategic leadership and oversight in all aspects of its fiscal and daily operation.
“The hospitality industry is an extremely competitive market for lucrative conventions and meetings business as well as leisure travel,” said Michael Howerton, board chair, Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “As the Louisville landscape evolves with greater opportunities to incent highly sought-after conventions and tourism, we believe we have found in Karen the right combination of experience, leadership and vision to help our community maximize those opportunities.”
Having worked in the hospitality industry for 32 years, Williams began as a sales manager at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Atlanta. After opening 18 hotels worldwide, she returned to Louisville and served 23 years at the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau, retiring as executive vice president in 2012.
She served on boards of Leadership Louisville, Meeting Professionals International, Destination Marketing Association International and APEX Commissioner with the Convention Industry Council. Williams also served as chair for Destination & Travel Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to serving the interest of destination marketing professionals and highlighting the impact of travel around the world.
In recognition of the diverse achievements and longevity of her hospitality career, Williams received the Dan Mangeot award in 2012 given to an individual who greatly contributed to Louisville’s tourism initiatives.
Williams works with leading hospitality industry clients as a consultant with her destination marketing company, Inspired, and she also serves as director of industry relations for Schneider Publishing.