KANSAS CITY, Mo.—In partnership with Mayor Quinton Lucas, the boards of the Kansas City Sports Commission and Foundation and Visit KC announced today that industry veteran and local community leader Kathy Nelson will serve as the leader of both organizations, effective Jan. 1, 2022.
Serving as the President & CEO of the KC Sports Commission and Foundation for the last 10 years, Nelson will now provide strategic oversight to both regional organizations in the newly expanded role, helping to generate economic development for the destination through meetings, conventions, sports and tourism.
“Kansas City is thrilled to announce today that Kathy Nelson, one of sports’ most respected names locally and around the country, is expanding her role and will now oversee both the Kansas City Sports Commission and Kansas City’s tourism arm, Visit KC," said Mayor Lucas. “Kathy’s steady leadership, efficiency and kindness when assembling sizable sports-related events—whether that be a Super Bowl parade or a youth sports camp—has helped elevate Kansas City’s reputation as a first-class sports city, and we look forward to her building on this success with the Visit KC team. With a new airport terminal, expanded Streetcar, beautiful convention space and an excited and welcoming community, we look forward to Kathy, Visit KC and the Sports Commission continuing to cement Kansas City as the best convention and tourism city in the country.”
Aligned under this new shared leadership structure, the Kansas City Sports Commission and Visit KC will continue to operate as individual entities, maintaining separate staffs, boards and missions, while Nelson will work to enhance alignment opportunities and long-range strategic partnerships to help propel both organizations forward.
“Throughout my career, I’ve had the honor of advocating Kansas City as a dynamic and welcoming destination,” Nelson said. “As I take on this new role, I know both the Kansas City Sports Commission and Visit KC will continue to lead the charge for our city’s ongoing growth and success. Our transition team, which includes Cindy Circo, Regina Croucher, Gloria Jackson-Leathers, Kevin Pistilli, Jeanette Prenger and Denny Scott, has been invaluable during this process and I can’t thank them enough for their diligence and hard work.”
With Kathy’s guidance and expertise over the past decade, the Sports Commission has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact for Kansas City and the region through the acquisition of high-profile professional and amateur sporting events.
“Kathy’s leadership is not only exemplified by the results of the Kansas City Sports Commission, but also through the team she’s brought together,” said Regina Croucher, Chair of KCSC. “Her ability to foster passion and purpose in her employees is part of what makes Kathy an exceptional CEO.”
In addition to collaborating with Visit KC on major community initiatives such as the KC2026 FIFA World Cup bid effort, the 2023 NFL Draft and the annual Phillips 66 Big 12 Basketball Championships, Nelson has also served on the Visit KC Board of Directors in an ex-officio capacity since 2015.
She succeeds Jason Fulvi, who departed Visit KC in September. Randall Landes, the organization’s Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer, has served as Interim President & CEO since Sept. 3 with the support of Cindy Circo, Board Chair.
“It is with great pleasure and pride that we welcome Kathy Nelson, Visit KC’s first female president and CEO, to the leadership of Visit KC,” said Circo. “Kathy is a past board member and passionate advocate for our local hospitality industry, and we are eager to have her join our team in early 2022, expanding our relationship with our long-time partners at the KC Sports Commission and aligning for shared destination success for years to come.”
A native Kansas Citian, Nelson first joined the KC Sports Commission staff in August 2010 as the WIN for KC Director, ascending into the President & CEO role in November 2011. A veteran communicator and storyteller, Nelson’s diverse background includes senior management positions in marketing, sales and promotions at Time Warner Cable and Metro Sports, in addition to a number of roles at FOX 4/WDAF-TV in Kansas City.
In recognition of her service, Nelson has been honored with several accolades over the years, including the national Sports Tourism Executive/CEO of the Year award in 2018, the ATHENA Leadership Award from the Kansas City Chamber in 2019 and induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2020.