Karen Williams, CTA*
President & CEO
Biography: Louisville native Karen Williams has been a leader in the hospitality industry for over 35 years—a prosperous career that began with a sales manager position at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Atlanta. Trading the Wall Street sales calls for worldwide travel, Karen was promoted to director of corporate sales, where she helped open 18 hotels worldwide under the Ritz-Carlton flag.
After returning to her roots, Karen devoted the next 23 years to the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau (LCVB) in the role of executive vice president. While her primary role was to oversee operations of the bureau’s sales team, Karen’s accomplishments reached far beyond the scope of her title. Karen’s warmth and poise helped her maintain the bureau’s relationship with owners and general managers at local hotels and generate relationships with operators of other travel-related businesses.
Karen retired from her position at the LCVB in August 2012, but remained connected to the industry that she loves so much and founded Inspired, a full-service event design and management consulting firm based in Louisville, Ky. She also reconnected with the LCVB when she was appointed to the Greater Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau Commission, the policy-making body of the LVCB.
In March 2014, Karen was named President & CEO of the LCVB and is responsible for all administrative, operating, sales and marketing functions including 130 full and part-time staff members and an operating budget of $18 million. The LCVB represents the city of Louisville at industry tradeshows and markets the area as a premier venue for conventions, meetings and leisure travelers.
Karen’s leadership role also includes serving on several boards. She currently sits on the boards for the Destination Marketing Association International, Louisville Downtown Partnership, Greater Louisville Inc., Kentucky Tourism Industry Association, Skal Club International, WDRB Editorial Advisory Board, and Greater Louisville Hotel & Lodging Association.
*CTA - Certified Tourism Ambassador