During the 500 Festival’s 50 years, four people have had an instrumental role in shaping it into the organization is it today.
In 1963, the Festival named Josephine Hauck as Executive Secretary. Hauck was later named Executive Director. In three decades Hauck transformed the organization into one of the greatest festivals in the nation. In 1992, Josephine retired after stewarding the many traditions of the 500 Festival for 30 years.
Elizabeth Kraft (Meek) was named President of the 500 Festival in 1992, to succeed Hauck. Her 10 year tenure at the Festival yielded much change and progress. She worked to modernize the staff’s infrastructure and provided the necessary tools and resources for the event business.
In 2003, the 500 Festival Board of Directors named Kirk Hendrix as its President and CEO. Hendrix brought over 25 years of marketing and events experience. Some of his career stops were at the following: Fiesta Bowl, Pac-10 Conference, Parade Company in Detroit (America’s Thanksgiving Parade), and Las Vegas Events. Hendrix worked to increase sponsorship and attendance, as well as further develop programming within current events. He has also worked to activate and engage the 500 Festival Foundation, enlisting support of past chairmen and board members.
In 2013, the 500 Festival hired Bob Bryant as its 4th President and CEO. Bryant brings 20 years of experience creating brand-defining successes and significant revenue growth in categories including events, sports, broadcast, motorsports, entertainment, consumer products, retail and online.