Karl Schmitt, Executive Director
Karl Schmitt, a veteran sports executive, was named executive director January 1, 2010. From 1987 to 2006, he was a member of Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) senior management team. He rose to senior vice president of corporate communications, then served as president of two of Churchill's wholly owned companies and member of CDI's development team, providing support for strategic planning and acquisitions.
From 1980 to 1987, Schmitt worked in public relations at the University of Miami Hurricane Athletic Department, serving as sports information director from 1983 to 1987. He gained event and PR experience with the Pan Am Games, the NCAA Final Four Basketball Championships, the Bowl Championship Series, the Master's Golf Tournament, the PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup, horse racing's Triple Crown and the Breeders' Cup Championship. He also helped design and execute the media relations and media operations plan for the 2000 Vice Presidential Debate at Centre College.
A former high school English teacher and coach, Schmitt earned an undergraduate degree in journalism, English and secondary education and four varsity letters in football from Morehead State University. He earned a Master's degree in communications from Morehead while serving as a graduate assistant football coach and journalism instructor. Schmitt is a member of the board of the Muhammad Ali Center;he has also been chair of the Louisville Urban League Board and treasurer and executive committee member of the Kentucky Derby Festival Board.
Greg Fante, Director of Sports Development
Greg Fante has been a leader in the Louisville hospitality industry for more than 27 years. In 2007, he joined the staff of the Louisville Sports Commission as director of sports development to work with local, regional and national partners to position and sell Louisville as a premier sports destination. Prior to that, Fante served as national sales manager and senior sales manager for the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau (LCVB), focusing on marketing Louisville as a prominent sports and sports trade show destination. While at the LCVB, he was involved in numerous successful bids, including: PGA of America, American Football Coaches Association, National Senior Games Association, AVP Pro Beach Volleyball, Ironman Louisville, NCAA, NAIA, USA Volleyball, McDonald's All American Basketball Games, United States Tumbling and Trampoline, USA Gymnastics, Conference USA, and the Mid-South Conference.
Fante started his career in the hospitality industry with the A. J. Schneider Company as a sales manager for the Executive Inn. He then joined the James Hotel Company as director of sales and was promoted to general manager for several of the company's Louisville-based hotels.
He is a member of several local and national industry organizations including the Louisville Hotel Sales Association, International Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, National Association of Sports Commissions and the Kentucky Sports Authority TEAM Ky.
Troy Killian, Director of Event Operations
Troy Killian joined the Louisville Sports Commission as its director of event operations in 2006. He has an extensive athletics background, with more than 15 years of experience in event management and operations.
Before joining the Louisville Sports Commission, Killian held a number of sports-focused positions. He worked for the Canisius Athletic Department in facility operations and as the assistant men's soccer coach while also working for the Buffalo Blizzard Professional Soccer Team. Upon finishing his Master's degree, Killan moved to Orlando where he worked as an event manager at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. After working the Danskin Triathlon at Disney, CFT Sommer Sports hired him as its director of operations, where he spent two years traveling the country managing triathlons. He then continued his career in the triathlon industry with St. Anthony's Triathlon in Tampa, Fla.
Killan has a Bachelor's degree in Sports Management from Mars Hill College and a Master's in Sports Administration from Canisius College.
Julie Howell, Director of Fund Development
Julie Howell joined the staff of the Louisville Sports Commission as director of fund development in September 2010. Her focus is to raise funds that will enable the organization to execute its mission to attract, host and create sporting events that enhance economic development in Louisville, promote quality of life and brand Louisville as a great place to live, work and play. She manages the membership and corporate partner campaigns, oversees sponsorships development, and oversees the Paul Hornung Award Banquet.
Howell's background is in fundraising, administration and performance in the arts community. Prior to joining the Louisville Sports Commission staff, she was development director for the Louisville Ballet and vice president, partnerships for the Fund for the Arts. A native of Horse Cave, Ky, Howell started her career as an actor and box office manager at the Horse Cave Theatre and was later managing director of the Kentucky Repertory Theatre.
In her positions with the Louisville Ballet and the Fund for the Arts, Howell led the planning, implementation and execution of multi-million dollar capital and development campaigns; worked closely with the boards of directors in planning and strategizing annual goals; established on-going relationships with donors and community leaders; developed and implemented membership campaigns; and expanded young professional donor bases and awareness programs. She also has extensive experience planning and overseeing corporate events, dinners, black tie galas and sponsor activities.
Lisa Mills, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
Lisa Mills joined the Louisville Sports Commission as its director of marketing and public relations in October 2011. She most recently was with Fellon-McCord, an energy management company, as its marketing manager where she oversaw the company's internal and external marketing efforts. Prior to joining Fellon-McCord, Mills was marketing director for Faulkner Real Estate where she provided leadership for the company's overall marketing, communications and public relations strategies, as well as corporate event planning. She has served as marketing director for Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI), the metropolitan area's chamber of commerce and primary economic development organization, where she spent more than 15 years providing marketing leadership and support for market research, advertising and special projects. Before joining GLI in 1989, she worked in marketing and administration for a local start-up company.
Mills is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Spalding University, with a Bachelors Degree in Marketing. She is currently a member of the Spalding University Athletic Advisory Council, the Cabbage Patch Marketing and Communications Committee and the Louisville Community Branding Committee.