Memphis in May President/CEO James L. "Jim" Holt (left) will retire in January after 25-plus years. of the Memphis in May International Festival for 25-plus years. Executive Vice President/CFO Mack Weaver has been named interim president.

James L. “Jim” Holt, who has served as president/CEO of the Memphis in May International Festival for 25-plus years, will retire effective January 31, 2024.

“I have been contemplating retirement for a few years, but I wanted to help guide the organization through the unforeseen challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as our displacement and eventual return to Tom Lee Park and the riverfront,” Holt shared in a letter to Al Gossett, Memphis in May’s 2024 board chairman.

Following Holt’s retirement, long-time Memphis in May executive, Mack Weaver, will assume the role of Interim President on February 1, 2024. Weaver is the organization’s executive vice president and has served in the capacity of chief financial officer since January 1999.

Holt assumed the role of executive director of the non-profit organization in October 1998. During his tenure, he oversaw:

  • Growth of the Beale Street Music Festival and World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest to national and international acclaim.
  • Introduction of the Great American River Run.
  • Salutes to 22 honored counties, and
  • Production of the 2019 Bicentennial celebration for the City of Memphis and Shelby County.
Memphis in May International Festival (MIM) selected Ghana as its honored nation for 2020. Charles Ewing (left), who served has chairman of the MIM Board, and MIM President James L. “Jim” Holt (right) traveled to Ghana to collaborate with Dr. Nana Appiagyei Dankawoso, Traditional Chief of Asante Juaben; President, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce; President, Pan African Chamber of Commerce and leader of Ghana’s Private Sector Council. (Courtesy photo)

Gossett said Holt’s “expertise and dedication have played a pivotal role in shaping Memphis in May into a renowned month-long celebration and a destination for Memphis and the entire Mid-South region. He has built a highly capable and experienced team, and we are deeply grateful for his contributions.”

In his retirement letter, Holt termed it “an extraordinary privilege” to serve Memphis in May.

“Together with our remarkable team, board leadership, and the hundreds of dedicated volunteers and supporters throughout this organization, we have achieved significant milestones and navigated both challenges and triumphs. … I have full confidence in our capable team and leadership, who will continue to guide Memphis in May toward even greater success in the future.”

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