President & CEO
Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corporation
Gloria Ray is the President and CEO of the Knoxville Tourism & Sports Corporation (KTSC), a private, not-for-profit corporation that has contracts with Knoxville and Knox County to strengthen the area economy by marketing Knoxville as a destination for conventions, events and leisure travel.
The KTSC was formed in 2002 when Ray spearheaded the merger of her former company, the Greater Knoxville Sports Corporation (GKSC), with the former Knoxville Convention & Visitor Bureau (KCVB). Backed by the City of Knoxville and Knox County, the KTSC collectively develops and implements marketing campaigns to sell all city and countywide tourism opportunities. The corporation annually generates in excess of $100,000,000 worth of local economic impact.
Ray, a native Knoxvillian, is associated with many “firsts.” She was the first woman in the 69-year history of the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) to serve as the chairperson of its Board of Commissioners, as well as the first woman to serve on the Executive Committee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee Board of Directors. She was the first Women’s Athletic Director at the University of Tennessee and oversaw the Lady Vols’ first national championship. Ray also led the drive to plan and construct the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (WBHOF), the first and only hall of fame in the world created solely to honor the achievements of women. The facility is managed by the KTSC.
Most recently, Ray initiated the plan to build One Vision Plaza (OVP), Knoxville’s new visitor center. Located in downtown Knoxville, OVP combines a variety of Knoxville tourism initiatives, restores and rejuvenates a historic downtown location and creates an original and authentic experience for both out-of-towners and Knoxvillians.
OVP, which officially opened in June 2004, is the headquarters for the KTSC and features the broadcasting studios of Americana radio station WDVX, the Café Gourmet Coffee bar and the “Uniquely Knoxville” gift shop.
Ray’s numerous honors and awards include: American Marketing Association Professional Marketer of the Year Award, YWCA Tribute to Women in Business Award Winner, Public Relations Society of America Executive of the Year, Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame Administrator of the Year, and Knoxville Women’s Center Courage Award recipient. The University of Tennessee Lady Vol Leadership Award is named in her honor, and in April 2004, Business Tennessee magazine named her to the “Power 100” list of the 100 most powerful people in Tennessee.
Ray is a graduate of Knoxville’s Fulton High School, East Tennessee State University, and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.