Papa John's names Olivia Kirtley board chair with Schnatter's support

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Papa John's International said on Friday its board unanimously named Olivia Kirtley its chairwoman, a move that founder John Schnatter supported even as he presses a lawsuit highly critical of how she and the other board members have handled the controversy surrounding him in recent weeks.

Kirtley, the board’s lead independent director, has effectively been in the board’s top role since Schnatter gave up the chair’s position on July 11, the same day he admitted using the N-word during a media training session in May.

A spokesman for Schnatter confirmed that he voted for Kirtley to become chairwoman.

The company said in a statement Friday that the board will be looking to add new members from outside the company.

The board consists of six people, including Schnatter. The other five are “independent” directors from outside the company.

“The independent directors of the Papa John’s Board are committed to serving the best interests of the company, our shareholders and other stakeholders,” Kirtley said in a statement Friday.

Kirtley, a certified public accountant, is a former chief financial officer and former senior manager at a predecessor to the accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP.

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822,, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2018 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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Chris Otts reports for about business and economic topics, higher education and local / state government. He joined WDRB News in 2013 after seven years with The Courier-Journal. Got a tip? Chris is at 502-585-0822 and