May 12, 2020
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™
Announces Leadership Changes
Today, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo announces that CEO and President Joel Cowley is leaving the organization, and the promotion of Chief Mission Officer Chris Boleman, Ph.D., to the role of president and CEO.
Cowley has spent his entire career focused on education and agriculture and has served the mission of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for 15 years, including the last seven in his current leadership role.
“I am incredibly thankful to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Executive Committee for the opportunity to serve this organization for the past 15 years, seven as president and CEO,” said Cowley. “Our volunteers and staff have reached incredible milestones over this period and, with the continued support of the community, I am confident that the best is yet to come.”
Cowley and his wife, Tammy, have two daughters who both graduated college in 2019. “While I will remain a lifelong supporter of the Rodeo and its mission of promoting agriculture and supporting education, I will be pursuing an opportunity that has a direct impact on the agricultural industry,” said Cowley. “In doing so, I hope to provide the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo with an even better story to tell about advancements in the critically important field of agriculture.”
Cowley’s last day in his role of president and CEO is May 22.
“Our organization has set attendance records and increased our commitment to education and our community under Joel’s leadership during these past seven years,” said Chairman of the Board Jim Winne. “We are eternally grateful for the commitment and passion that Joel and his family have made to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.”
Dr. Boleman has been named the new Rodeo president and CEO. Dr. Boleman has served in the role of chief mission officer since August, and prior to that, beginning in 2017, he served as executive director of the Agricultural Educational Competitions and Exhibits Division.
In addition to his official roles with the organization, in 2019 Dr. Boleman took a lead role in the reorganization structure of the Rodeo.
“Chris has committed his career to education and promoting agriculture, which are two key pillars of our organization’s mission,” said Winne. “But what our Executive Committee is most pleased with is that within our own leadership team, we have a transformational and visionary leader who is prepared to step up and lead our organization. Chris was on a fast track to a CEO role in our industry, and we are happy that it will be with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.”
Prior to joining the Rodeo, Dr. Boleman served as the state leader for the Texas 4-H Organization and as a professor at his alma mater, Texas A&M University.
“I appreciate the confidence that the Rodeo Executive Committee has in me to lead such an impactful organization that is aligned with my personal passions,” said Boleman. “I am very grateful to Joel Cowley, who not only has been a tremendous leader of our organization but is also a trusted friend and mentor. I look forward to the challenge of following his legacy.”
Dr. Boleman will be leading a full-time staff of 130 and a volunteer force of more than 35,000.
“One of the most gratifying aspects of working with the Rodeo is working alongside the volunteers who are so passionate and committed to the success of our organization,” said Boleman. “My wife Randi serves as a volunteer, so I see every day how much time, energy and passion that this group provides toward our success.”
Cowley lauded the promotion of Dr. Boleman, whom he has known and worked with for many years, including their time together at Texas A&M.
“When hiring Chris three years ago, it was done with potential succession in mind,” said Cowley. “I can think of no one better to lead this great organization into the future.”
Dr. Boleman will assume the role of president and CEO Monday, May 25, 2020.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo promotes agriculture by hosting an annual, family-friendly experience that educates and entertains the public, supports Texas youth, showcases Western heritage and provides year-round educational support within the community. Since its beginning in 1932, the Rodeo has committed more than $500 million to the youth of Texas and education. For more information, visit rodeohouston.com and connect with #RODEOHOUSTON online via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for all the latest news. The 2021 Rodeo is scheduled for March 2 – 21