Karl Schmitt, Jr., President & CEO
Karl Schmitt, a veteran sports executive, joined the Louisville Sports Commission (LSC) on January 1, 2010, as its executive director. In June 2015, his role was elevated to president and CEO. Prior to LSC, Schmitt spent 20 years in management at Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) He joined the organization as director of publicity in 1987 and was a member of CDI’s senior management team from 1990 to 2006. He rose to senior vice president of corporate communications, then served as president of two of Churchill’s wholly owned companies and as a member of CDI’s development team, providing support for strategic planning and acquisitions. Prior to joining CDI, he spent seven years in the 1980s in the athletic department with the University of Miami Hurricanes as director and associate director of sports information. Schmitt is currently a member of the Kentucky Science Center Board and past chair of the Muhammad Ali Center board. He is past chair of the Louisville Urban League Board and was treasurer and executive committee member of the Kentucky Derby Festival Board. He was a four-year letterman in football at Morehead State University where he earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in journalism and mass communications. Schmitt announced he will retire in February 2023.
Greg Fante, Vice President of Sports Development
Greg Fante has been a leader in the Louisville hospitality industry for more than 30 years. He currently serves as the vice president of sports development for the Louisville Sports Commission where he has worked since 2007. Prior to that, Fante served as national sales manager and senior sales manager for the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau. He has been an integral part of a team of professionals who have helped lead Louisville’s strategic planning, marketing, and sales efforts for sports event attraction and creation for the region. In the last 17 years, he has helped the Sports Commission attract and support events that have generated nearly $1 billion in local economic benefits for the community. Fante started his career in the local hotel industry where he served as sales manager, ultimately rising to the position of regional general manager for several locally owned hotels. He has served on the board of directors for Louisville’s lodging association, the Louisville hotel sales association and the National Association of Sports Commissions. In February 2023, Fante will become the organization’s president & CEO.
Julie Howell, Chief Revenue Officer
Julie Howell joined the Louisville Sports Commission in September 2009. Prior to the that, Howell was director of development for the Louisville Ballet. Before she moved to the Ballet, she was vice president, partnerships for the Fund for the Arts. During her time with the Sports Commission, Howell has increased the number of companies supporting the organization from 10 to more than 250, leading to a 750 percent increase in annual contributed revenue. The organization’s revenue-producing activities created and overseen by Howell include event sponsorships, the Corporate Partners program and the annual Golden Ticket raffle. She has secured sponsorship portfolios for the following owned and operated events: the Paul Hornung Award presented by Texas Roadhouse, Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame fueled by the Kentucky Lottery, Live in Lou Cross Country Classic, Louisville Legends Open, the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon presented by Jim Beam®, Louisville pure tap® 5k, Norton Sports Health 10K, the Louisville Corporate Games presented by Humana, the Louisville Indoor Games and Derby City Cup. Howell also played an integral part in obtaining funding to host the 2013 UCI Cyclocross World Championships and has been instrumental in securing sponsorships for the IRONMAN® Louisville. In 2016, Howell led the effort to secure funding for a $1 million facility enhancement of the BMX Track at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park.
Nick Kopka, Director of Event Operations
Nick Kopka joined the Louisville Sports Commission in June 2022. He has worked on a variety of events including: 2015 Men’s Final Four, Men’s and Women’s Big Sky Basketball Tournament, USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships, Connect Sports Marketplace 2017, USA Cyclocross Championships and the 2018 Super Bowl. Before joining the Sports Commission, Nick was with the 500 Festival where he worked on events such as the Mini-Marathon Expo and Kid’s Day Festival. Prior to that, he spent three years with the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission and served as its Logistics Manager where he oversaw event operations, budget management and volunteer supervision. Nick graduated from Ball State University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management and Ohio University with a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Sports Administration.
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 previously 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 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 currently is a member of the Spalding University Athletic Advisory Council, the Cabbage Patch Marketing and Communications Committee, and the Louisville Community Branding Committee.
MiKayla Morton, Manager of Events and Programs
MiKayla Morton joined the Louisville Sports Commission in June 2022. Morton previously held an intern position with Athletx Sports Group as a group housing and event manager. She also has provided event management assistance at the Louisville Indoor Games, Live in Lou Cross Country Classic, NCAA DIII Cross Country National Championship and Urban Bourbon Half Marathon presented by Jim Beam. Morton was selected to participate in the 2022 Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission Professional Development Program Summit. Morton is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Louisville, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Administration. While attending UofL on a Woodford R. Porter Scholarship, she earned the Savannah Walker Award for Social Justice and held a leadership peer mentoring role for African American freshman with Caring of New Students Experiencing College Transition.