Louisville, KY: After serving as the President of the Waterfront Development Corporation for 33 years, David Karem has announced he will step down from the position at the end of July. During his tenure, Karem led the effort to transform Louisville’s waterfront from blighted industrial wasteland to an award-winning park, which now plays host to over 150 events annually and is enjoyed by over 2.2 million visitors each year. Karem was the first and only President of Waterfront, overseeing and directing the planning, design, development, and operation of Louisville Waterfront Park since 1986. He also served in the Kentucky General Assembly from 1972 to 2004, serving in Senate leadership positions for much of his time there. Karem will remain involved with WDC for the next year as Director Emeritus.
The Waterfront Park Office Building will be renamed the David K. Karem Building in honor of Karem’s leadership and service.
“On behalf of the entire community, I want to thank David for his dedication and leadership over the past three decades reclaiming Louisville’s waterfront for the people by transforming scrap yards and heavy industrial sites into a world-class park that has played a pivotal role in revitalizing downtown Louisville,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “David is true public servant, and our city will forever be changed by his incredible vision and commitment.”
“The community has been lucky to have David as a visionary for Waterfront Park for over 30 years, and we are fortunate to have him remain a part of our leadership team for the next year,” said Susan Moss, Chair of the Waterfront Development Corporation Board of Directors.
Deborah Bilitski has been appointed by the Waterfront Development Corporation Board to succeed Karem as President effective August 1st. Bilitski has served as Vice President/Deputy Director since January of 2018. She began her career in private practice as an attorney focused on land use and real estate, and later practiced at Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs, where she headed the firm’s real estate and lending team. Prior to joining Waterfront, Deborah served as Director of Develop Louisville for Louisville Metro Government, the department responsible for the full range of land development activities. Additionally, she has served as an Assistant County Attorney, providing legal counsel to the Mayor’s Office, Louisville Metro Council, and various agencies, boards and commissions of city government.
“Deborah is a wonderful choice as the Waterfront Development Corporation’s new leader. A talented lawyer who is well-versed in real estate and legislative matters, she brings valuable experience from both the public and private sector and a commitment to taking the Waterfront to the next level with the Phase 4 expansion,” said Mayor Fischer.
“Working with Deborah over the last 18 months, the Waterfront Board has come to appreciate her passion and commitment to Waterfront Park,” said Moss. “She is a natural fit for this position who will enable a seamless transition in Waterfront leadership.”
Another long-time Waterfront employee, Margaret Walker, has also announced her retirement. Walker joined Waterfront in 1989 as one of the organization’s first staff members. She has served in numerous capacities for Waterfront, including as the primary grant writer for the first three phases of the park and as chief information officer.
“Margaret Walker has been an important member of the Waterfront team whose contributions were invaluable to the entire development of the park,” Karem said. Walker will retire on July 31st.