Cleo Battle stepping up as Louisville Tourism president and CEO this July

Louisville Tourism president and CEO Karen Williams (center) announced her retirement for later this year. Current chief operating officer Cleo Battle (right) will take over effective July 1.
Louisville Tourism president and CEO Karen Williams (center) announced her retirement for later this year. Current chief operating officer Cleo Battle (right) will take over effective July 1.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – One longtime industry veteran will replace another at the helm of Louisville Tourism later this year.

Organization president and CEO Karen Williams will retire this June. Cleo Battle, Louisville Tourism’s current chief operating officer, will take over the position effective July 1.

Williams and Battle have 40 and 35 years of experience in the industry, respectively.

Prior to coming to Louisville, Battle spent 17 years at the Richmond Convention & Visitors Bureau in Virginia.

Among Battle’s responsibilities will be to lead Louisville Tourism’s new Black Tourism Advisory Council, which is part of a concerted effort to create and draw more diversity in the city’s tourism industry.

“The hospitality industry is an extremely competitive market for leisure and meetings business,” said Louisville Tourism board chair Donald Lassere. “Under Karen’s leadership, the Louisville landscape evolved with greater opportunities to incent highly sought-after conventions, and tourism and the city was experiencing record growth in visitation prior to the pandemic.

“Working side by side with Karen for eight years, we know Cleo has the right combination of experience, leadership and vision to help our community maximize our opportunities as destinations like ours move into a recovery and rebound phase.”

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