USHR//Universal City, CA, October 19, 2016–Universal Studios Hollywood promotes Karen Irwin to President & COO of The Entertainment Capital of L.A., overseeing all business operations for the theme park and adjacent Universal CityWalk, it was announced today by Thomas Williams, Chairman & CEO, Universal Parks & Resorts (UPR).
Ms. Irwin, who recently served as Executive Vice President, Global Merchandise and Partnership Development for the UPR division, succeeds Larry Kurzweil, a 20-year veteran of the company, who is departing to join a private equity firm specializing in the food industry as an operating partner, and will also concurrently serve as the President & CEO of The Lemonade Restaurant Group, headquartered in Los Angeles.
In making the announcement Mr. Williams said, “Karen is creative, strategic, focused and a true leader and been at the forefront of our incredible growth in Merchandise over the past 10 years. She has a wealth of operational and senior management experience in all facets of our business and was instrumental in all of the development of our incredible Harry Potter offerings. Karen is uniquely qualified for this important role and we look forward to welcoming her to this new chapter in her career.”
Mr. Williams continued, “Larry has been a vital member of the Universal family and he will be missed. Since 1999, he has presided over the theme park’s many award-wining attractions and signature Studio Tour, including the park’s recent revitalization that transformed over 75 percent of the destination, culminating with the highly-anticipated arrival of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. His passion, strategic insight and creative vision were invaluable to our business and we wish him much success in his new venture.”
Karen began her career with Universal Orlando in 1990 as part of the opening team for Universal Studios Florida. She has served in several leadership and department-head capacities including: Director of Operations and Director of Support Services for Food and Beverage, Vice President of Merchandise Operations and Vice President of Revenue Operations. She moved to UPR as Vice President of Partnership Development in 2004, before taking on her current role in 2006.
During her tenure at Universal Parks & Resorts, Karen has served on the Executive Committee for the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission, Boards of Directors for the Rosen School of Hospitality at The University of Central Florida and Valencia Community College. She has also been President of Universal Orlando Volunteer Board and Chair of the Universal Workplace Giving Campaign.
Karen is a graduate of the University of Florida, with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Communications, and completed an Executive Development Program at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. She has 30 years of management and leadership experience in the hospitality industry.
Karen and her husband Dann will be relocating to Los Angeles, CA, from their current residence in Orlando, Florida.