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Executive Communicator of the Year

Joel Cowley, President & CEO of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

The Houston chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators is proud to honor Joel Cowley, president and chief executive officer of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, as its 2017 Executive Communicator of the Year. 

IABC Houston is recognizing Cowley for his support of outstanding business communication in his organization, his engaging communication and interpersonal style, and his involvement in community projects and fundraising that benefit Houston-area residents, said Jordan Temple, past-president of the IABC Houston chapter. “The Executive Communicator of the Year award recognizes local executives who appreciate the importance of communication and its crucial role in the success of an organization, and that’s what Joel Cowley does every day in the way he leads the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo,” she said.

“On behalf of our over 33,000 volunteers and talented staff, I enjoy communicating the
tremendous impact of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo to a highly diverse audience,”
said Cowley. “To be recognized by communications professionals in the Houston area for doing
something that I love is both an honor and a blessing.”

Since 2013, Cowley has served as the organization’s face and voice in promoting the annual
event year-round. Not only does he serve as its principal spokesman during the Houston
Livestock Show and Rodeo’s array of activities over its three-week period, he has long
recognized the importance of strategic communication to the Show’s success.

Since its founding in 1932, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has become the world’s
largest livestock show, with more than 32,000 entries; committed $430 million to youth
educational programs; created affordable, family-friendly entertainment; and brought the
nation’s fourth largest city together for a unique celebration of Western heritage.

“Mr. Cowley is extremely passionate in developing youth and contributing to their educational
goals, and his enthusiasm is contagious throughout his organization,” Temple said. “He knows
that if the staff and volunteers are having a great experience, his guests will also have a
memorable experience.”

Cowley and his team work closely with institutions around Texas and across the Houston area,
such as the Texas 4-H and FFA, Texas A&M University, the University of Houston, the Greater
Houston Partnership and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in support of the organization’s mission to support agriculture and education. 2017 marked the 85th anniversary of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo as it drew a record-breaking 2.6 million visitors in March.

Cowley joined the Rodeo in 2005 as executive director of agricultural competitions and exhibits.
Before that, he worked for Ohio-based Certified Angus Beef LLC, the not-for-profit division of the American Angus Association; Michigan State University; and Texas A&M University in College Station. As a longtime 4-H member, he was active in livestock projects and a member of national champion 4-H wool judging and livestock judging teams. He first attended the 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.

IABC Houston presented Cowley with the award at its annual Bronze Quill Awards Gala held on June 22, 2017, at the Junior League of Houston.

Previous recipients

The winners of this annual award are recognized for their outstanding professional performance and exemplify the highest standards of our craft each year at the IABC Houston Bronze Quill awards gala. We are grateful to them, their employees and colleagues for all they do for Houston business communicators. We salute the following distinguished role models.

Past Winners

2016 - Jim McIngvale, Owner, Gallery Furniture
2015 -  Carolyn Sanders, Former VP of HR and Public Affairs, Total Petrochemicals and Refining USA
2014 – Angela Blanchard, President and CEO, Neighborhood Centers Inc.
2013 – Joy Horak-Brown, Executive Director, New Hope Housing, Inc.
2012 – Dr. Renu Khator, PhD, President of the University of Houston and Chancellor of the University of Houston System
2011 – James L Gallogly, Chief Executive Officer, LyondellBasell Industries
2010 – Bob Hale, President & CEO, Houston Association of REALTORS® 2010 – Greg Garland, President & CEO (former), Chevron Phillips Chemical
2009 – John C. Sheptor, President & CEO (former), Imperial Sugar Company
2008 – Dr. Giuseppe Colasurdo, President of the The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and former Dean of the UTHSC - Houston Medical School
2007 – John D. Hofmeister, President (former) of Shell Oil Company
2006 – J. William "Bill" Boyar, Chairman (former) of BoyarMiller, Attorneys at Law 
2005 – Clark Baker, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Houston
2004 – John D. Stobo, M.D., President (former), the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
2003 – Jacqueline S. Martin, President (former), United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast
2002 – Steve Miller, CEO (retired), Shell Oil Company
2001 – Kirbyjon Caldwell, Senior Pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church

IABC Houston Legacy Award

2013 - Fred J. Korge
2014 - Downs Matthews