Royal Court®

The Derby Festival Royal Court is a long-standing tradition with the Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation and The Fillies. Chosen from over 100 applicants,  these five young women represent the Kentucky Derby Festival and the city of Louisville as official ambassadors for the springtime tradition of the Festival.

The reign of the current Royal Court has been historic, due to an unprecedented year with the pandemic. The 2020 Derby Festival Princesses kept us happy and healthy this past year, between socially distanced visits and helping keep Louisville families festive at home with DIY activities, recipes, silly videos and more.

And, we’re glad to say, that you’ll be seeing the same friendly, familiar faces of our 2020 Royal Court once again in 2021!


Meet the 2020-2021 Royal Court!

Gia, 21-years-old, is a senior at the University of Louisville majoring in Psychology with a minor in Pan-African Studies. She is the Vice President of the Caring Of New students Experiencing College Transition (CONECT) Peer Mentoring Program, and a Woodford R. Porter Scholar, and a Denny Crum Scholar. She is a member and the Secretary of the Beta Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

She also participated in the medical companion program with the Louisville VA Medical Center, and worked with Global Game Changers Student Empowerment Program.  While working 2 jobs, Gia has successfully maintained a 4.0 GPA for her senior year.

Hannah, 22-years-old, is an Honors graduate of Northern Kentucky University and currently a graduate student at UK working on her Masters in Education and Policy. She was the 2018-2019 Student Body President, has served as a Henry Clay Scholar on Capitol Hill, served as the NKU Inaugural Presidential Fellow, a Paul Sipes Award winner, and the received the Outstanding Senior Award in Communications. Hannah is a first-generation college student, member of Kappa Delta Sorority, a Teach for America Corp Member, and supports her personal initiative “Read Ready Kentucky”.  She is currently teaching 6th grade Social Studies at Holmes Middle School in Northern Kentucky.

Leah, 20-years-old, is a junior at the University of Louisville dual majoring in Political Science and Liberal Studies with concentrations in Race & Gender Studies, Global Public Health, and Economics. She is a McConnell Scholar, a Harvard Kennedy Public Policy Leadership Scholar, the College of Arts and Sciences Vice President, a member of Chi Omega Sorority, is a “children’s advocate” for the Center for Women and Families, and was featured on the July 2020 cover of Today’s Woman for her advocacy of young black women.

Molly, 22-years-old, is a graduate of Bellarmine University and the Department of Communications Faculty Merit Award winner. Before completing her journalism internship abroad in Shanghai, China, she was a public affairs intern for the Kentucky Association of Counties. Molly is also a Bellarmine University Women’s Council Scholar, member of Phi Mu Sorority, former WHAS11 News intern, active volunteer at the Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM), and currently an on-air reporter for WMAZ.

Hannah, 21-years-old, is a senior at Bellarmine University studying Business Administration and Marketing. She is a first-generation college student and business woman. She is a 2020 Bell Award recipient, a Bellarmine Professional Excellence Award recipient, and helped to raise over 6,000 toys from the Miss Toys for Tots Pageant as Pageant Director.





1957 – Jackie Love
1958 – Pat Travis
1959 – Martha Layne Hall (future Governor Collins)
1960 – Lillian Campbell
1961 – Dillard Marr
1962 – Jane Helm
1963 – Judy Roach
1964 – Trudie Musson
1965 – Jennifer Burcham
1966 – Lynne Girdler
1967 – Julie Short
1968 – Lynn Morris Haymond
1969 – Melinda Milliken
1970 – Starr Sprigg
1971 – Jennifer Lynn Storm
1972 – Gail Gorski
1973 – Julie Williams
1974 – Marion R. McCord
1975 – Annette Grundy
1976 – Kathy Carpenter
1977 – Robin Marie Clore
1978 – Elizabeth Page Penna
1979 – Ronda Marie Hartlage
1980 – Holly Wright
1981 – Gwen Francis Hettinger
1982 – Mia Todd
1983 – Lala Michele Thomas
1984 – Jessica Elizabeth Thomas
1985 – Peggy Barton
1986 – Kristen Zapata
1987  – Jennifer Lynn Stratton
1988 – Christina Lynn Levy
1989 – Margaret McGaw
1990 – Heather Marie Peet
1991 – Kristi Wright
1992 – Michelle Gaines
1993 – Preethi Anathakrishnan
1994 – Melissa Purvis
1995 – Tara Lutz
1996 – Charliese Brown
1997 – Leslie Ann Corbett
1998 – Natalie Ann Hallal
1999 – Michelle Elaine Ackerman
2000 – Kerri Richardson
2001 – Anne Marie Abell
2002 – Caryn Rae Willian
2003 – Rebecca DeSensi
2004 – Maria Maldonado
2005 – Brittany Diane Carpenter
2006 – Patti Jo Grice
2007 – Charlee Doom
2008 – Taléa Renee Drummer
2009 – Harini Chenna
2010 – Megan Imel
2011 – Trisha Maclin
2012 – Kaelyn Gault
2013 – Cameryn Jones
2014 – Julia Springate
2015 – Briana Lathon
2016 – Madison Orman
2017 – Natalie Brown
2018 – Tara Dunaway
2019 – Brittany Patillo

September 10
May 31