Joel Cowley will lead the 81-year-old Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as president and chief executive officer
Joel Cowley, a resident of Richmond, begins his new duties after joining the Show in 2005 as the executive director of agricultural competitions and exhibits. He will continue to work with the Show’s extensive volunteer base and staff to carry on the success of the world’s largest livestock show and rodeo.
“After an in-depth, international search, the Show’s Executive Committee has chosen the absolute best candidate for the job,” said Leroy Shafer, interim president and chief executive officer. “Joel’s strong ties to the organization’s agricultural roots, coupled with his leadership abilities, make for an excellent president of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.”
Shafer, who has been serving as the interim president and chief executive officer since former president Skip Wagner’s departure in April, will return to his role as vice president and chief operating officer.
Prior to joining the Show, Cowley worked for Certified Angus Beef LLC, the not-for-profit division of the American Angus Association, where he began as executive account manager in the international division and finished as assistant director of the food service division. Before his employment with CAB, he was a faculty member at Michigan State University, where he served as an extension beef cattle specialist. Prior to that, Cowley was employed by Texas A&M University as a lecturer and livestock judging team coach.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to be of greater service to such a tremendous organization,” Cowley said. “Through the tireless efforts of volunteers and staff and the generous support of sponsors and donors, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is able to fulfill its agricultural mission, entertain and educate guests, make a significant contribution to the local economy, and assist Texas youth in accomplishing their educational goals — I’m proud to be a part of it all.”
An 11-year 4-H member in Wyoming and Colorado, Cowley was active in livestock projects a member of national champion 4-H wool judging and livestock judging teams. He first attended the Houston Livestock Show™ as an intercollegiate judging contestant in 1985, and has participated in every Show since 1988 as a coach, livestock judge or employee.
Cowley holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Colorado State University, a master’s in animal science from Texas A&M University and an MBA from Michigan State University.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a 501(c)(3) charity that benefits youth, supports education, and facilitates better agricultural practices through exhibitions and presentation. Since its beginning in 1932, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has committed more than $330 million to scholarships, research, endowments, calf scramble participants, junior show exhibitors, School Art participants, and other educational and youth programs.
The 2014 Show runs March 4 – 23 at Reliant Park. For more information about the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, visit rodeohouston.com.
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