Staff

Executive Office

Chris Boleman, PH.D.

President & CEO

Chris Boleman, Ph.D., was named president and CEO of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ on May 12, 2020. Dr. Boleman joined the Rodeo in 2017 as the executive director of the Agricultural Competitions and Exhibits Division. In 2019, he was promoted to chief mission officer. A native Texan, Dr. Boleman earned a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University, where he also has served as Associate Professor.

As chief mission officer, Dr. Boleman led the execution of all mission-related activities, including the livestock and horse shows, educational and commercial exhibits, donors, auctions, sponsorships, grants, scholarships, and other educational programs. A significant part of this position is working in tandem with nearly half of the volunteer committees to provide coordinated and collaborative leadership with the Rodeo’s Executive Committee, vice presidents, committee chairs and staff. In this position, he provided oversight for an approximately $50 million budget and more than $20 million given annually through scholarships, educational program grants and graduate assistantships.

In 2019, under the direction of the Rodeo Chairman of the Board and Executive Committee, Dr. Boleman was tasked to provide leadership, oversight and management of the Rodeo’s reorganization plan in cooperation with the consultant team. He also led the implementation phase, which took place in the Fall of 2019. Prior to his promotion to chief mission officer, Dr. Boleman served as executive director of the Agricultural Competitions and Exhibits Division, leading the livestock and horse show competitions, auctions and wine programs.

Previous to him joining the Rodeo, Dr. Boleman served as the State Leader For Texas 4-H, where he was responsible for leading the Texas 4-H Youth Development Program with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Throughout his career, Dr. Boleman has provided more than 800 educational trainings and presentations, collaborated with experts in content areas to author more than 100 publications, and supported and collaborated with organizations to provide subject matter expertise through instruction, curriculum development, and/or consultation, with organizations including Texas Association of Counties Leadership Development Program for Judges & County Commissioners, Texas Farm Bureau Young Farmer & Rancher Leadership Program, Texas Agriculture Lifetime Leadership Program, Texas Association of Fairs & Events Executive Leadership Program, Texas FFA’s LEAD Program, and Texas A&M AgriLife’s Early Career Leadership Cohort.

Dr. Boleman has been very active in the agriculture community throughout his career, and has previously served or is currently serving on the board of directors of several non-profit organizations, including: Texas Association of Fairs and Events, Texas 4-H Foundation, Texas FFA Foundation, North American Livestock Show and Rodeo Managers Association, Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP), 4-H National Leadership Committee, National 4-H Council Board and National 4-H Council’s Hispanic Advisory Board.

In addition to his education at Texas A&M, Dr. Boleman has received the University Certificate of Completion for The Art and Science of Leadership Program at Harvard University and the Certificate of Completion for the Governor’s Executive Development Program at The University of Texas.

Dr. Boleman is married to Dr. Randi Boleman, who is also heavily involved at the Rodeo and currently serves as chair of the Communications & Special Services Committee. They make their home in Houston but still try and spend as much time at the family ranch in Brazos County. Dr. Boleman enjoys running, reading, writing and traveling.

President & CEO
Executive Assistant, Executive Office
Administrative Assistant, Executive Office
Kim Wilson
Kaitlin Noble

Entertainment & Concert Production

Director, Entertainment & Concert Production
Specialist, Entertainment and Concert Production
Brittany Cooke
Taylor Hatfield

FINANCE DIVISION

KATIE GRAHMANN

CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

Katie Grahmann serves as chief financial officer and is responsible for overseeing all accounting and finance operations of the organization.

In her previous role as senior director of accounting and controller, Grahmann oversaw the Rodeo’s accounting and finance functions, which includes treasury, investments, donations and sponsorships, payables, receivables and fixed assets.

Prior to joining the Rodeo in 2014, Grahmann served as controller at the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, as well as audit manager at Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).

For over a decade, she has volunteered her professional financial skills, serving many organizations in the Houston community, including the Junior League of Houston, where she currently serves as nominating committee secretary and previously served as financial vice president. She is also a founding board member of Impact100 Houston, a nonprofit organization that includes a diverse local group of women of all ages, stages in life, income levels and backgrounds. Recently, she was honored with the Houston Business Journal’s 2021 “Women Who Mean Business Award,” which recognizes women in leadership roles who have demonstrated excellence in their careers and community.

Grahmann received a bachelor’s degree of business administration in accounting, a master’s degree in finance from Texas A&M University and is a licensed CPA in the state of Texas.

She and her husband, Scott, live in Houston. In her spare time, she enjoys bike rides with her dad and cooking.

Chief Financial Officer
Accounting Director, Controller
Accounts Receivable Senior Associate
Accounts Receivable Senior Associate
Accounts Receivable Manager
Accounting Manager
Manager, Financial Reporting
Revenue Accountant
Staff Accountant
Supervisor, Accounts Payable
Accounts Payable Associate
Associate, Finance
Carolyn Casanova
Jackie Tassel
Stannicia Reddick
Jerrica Torrence
Brenda Carreno
Cecilia Arredondo
Evelyn Mata
Aileen Loera
Kayla Montoya
Alexis Caballero
Deslyn Lazo

Legal

JEFFREY DOWNING

GENERAL COUNSEL

Jeffrey brings nearly two decades of experience serving in both inside and outside counsel roles for various Houston-based firms and organizations, with a proven track record of resolving a wide range of complex legal issues, making him a clear standout for this role,” said Rodeo president and CEO Chris Boleman. “His deep expertise in permitting, licensing, contract negotiations, business transactions and legal matters will make him a strong addition to the Rodeo’s senior management team.”

Once he transitions into the general counsel position on Jan. 1, Downing will be responsible for legal affairs, risk management and corporate governance for the nonprofit organization, ensuring that all Rodeo activities and operations are carried out in compliance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations. He will provide advice and counsel on critical strategic, legal, and public policy issues, including business, real estate and corporate matters, and volunteer and employment issues.

Previously, Downing served as the executive vice president and general counsel at W-Industries LLC, which provides the energy industry with automation and control, process design, and system packaging solutions to optimize production and ensure operational continuity.

A Houston-native, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from Texas A&M University and a Juris Doctor from South Texas College of Law Houston, as well as an executive MBA from the University of Houston.

He and his wife, Taneka, also a Houston-native and graduate of South Texas School of Law Houston, have twins. They enjoy family trips to the beach and Texas Hill Country, as well as exploring all that the city of Houston has to offer, including the Rodeo. Downing served as a Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo volunteer on the Gatekeepers Committee from 2008 to 2012.

General Counsel
Contracts and Legal Administration Manager
Sidney Fuchs

Purchasing & Mailroom

Purchasing Director
Mailroom Manager
Associate, Mail Center
John Dickey
Jerrad Darty
Kris Milburn

Marketing, Public Relations & Presentations Division

LISA GAGNON

CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER

Lisa Gagnon serves as chief marketing officer, leading the Marketing, Public Relations & Presentations Division, which includes Brand, Broadcast & Audio Visual, Communications and Merchandise.

Since joining the Rodeo in 2017, Gagnon has led her team on several initiatives, including market segmentation, crisis communications, advertising campaigns and consumer research through surveys and focus groups. She developed the Rodeo’s first-ever brand positioning, redeveloped the organization’s advertising campaign, and oversaw the Rodeo’s 2019 Economic Impact Study.

Prior to joining the Rodeo, Gagnon served as vice president of Marketing for the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee, leading all marketing, brand management and fan engagement efforts. She is a dynamic leader in the Houston community, serving as a board member and committee chairperson for WISE Houston, and actively mentoring young women in the sports and events industry.

Gagnon received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from The University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in business administration from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She and her husband live in Houston with their 14-year-old daughter.

Chief Marketing Officer

Broadcast & Audio Visual

Senior Director, Broadcast and Audio Visuals
Senior Production Manager
Senior Video Producer
Senior Specialist, Video Production/Studio Operations
Video Editor
Studio Engineer
Gavin Gehrt
Gary Hazen
Liz Lyons
Ida Nuncio
Katie Briza
David Grundy

Communications

Director, Strategic Communications
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
Danielle Grossman
Shelby Pipken

Customer Experience

Director, Customer Experience
Carnival & Ticket Services Manager
Manager, Presentations
Holly Schweitzer
Ginger Gaskamp
Joanna Pedigo

Digital Media

Director, Digital Media
Digital Media Manager
Specialist, Social Media
Specialist, Digital Media
Aynav Leibowitz
Amanda Caffey
Alexa Davidson
Catherine Ridley

Marketing

Director, Marketing
Manager, Marketing & Community Relations
Senior Graphic Designer
Senior Graphic Designer
Coordinator, Marketing Committee Support
Coordinator, Marketing & Community Events
Specialist, Marketing and Data Insights
Muffy King
Vicki Frucci Hogue
Chelsea Riddle
Sandra Lara
Bri Norton
Kendra Veinotte
Maria De La Riva

MERCHANDISE

Director, Merchandise
Merchandise Manager
Jessica Mooney
Amy Madsen

Sports & event presentation

Director, Sports & Event Presentations
Coordinator, Sports & Event Presentations
Katelyn Scates
Conner Gonzales

mission DIVISION

JULIE BASS

CHIEF MISSION OFFICER

Julie Beken Bass graduated from Texas A&M University in 2003 with a degree in Agricultural Development. She was a member of the equestrian team during her enrollment at A&M, so with her passion for agriculture and the equine industry, Julie gladly accepted a position with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 2006 in the Horse Show Department.

Three years later, she moved to a manager’s role in the Exhibits and Attractions Department. After three years in this capacity, Julie accepted a position as the Fair Manager of the Montgomery County Fair in Conroe, Texas.

In the fall of 2014, Bass returned to her roots in the fair and festival industry at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, where she was named the Executive Director of General Exhibits and Attractions. Six years later, this role ultimately led to her being named the Chief Mission Officer in 2020.

This position includes her overseeing educational and commercial exhibits, agricultural competitions, auctions, and scholarship components of the Rodeo’s 20-day event. This division supports more than 45 committees and is staffed by 24 full time employees.

Amid the pandemic, she was honored with the Houston Business Journal’s 2020 “Women Who Mean Business Award,” which recognizes women in leadership roles who have demonstrated excellence in their careers and community.

Julie and her husband, Alan, live in Magnolia, Texas, with their two young sons, Tate and Brady. She and her husband also manage a small ranching operation on her family's homestead in Weimar, Texas.

Chief Mission Officer

auctions & attractions

Director, Auctions & Attractions
Manager, Auctions & Donors
Manager, Attractions
Coordinator, Auctions & Donors
Donor Relations & Fulfillment Manager
Coordinator, Auction & Donors
Coordinator, Attractions & Competitions
Laura Lambert
Kim Cornelius
Angela Gutierrez
Michael Blandon
Taylor Garcia
Taylor Olsovsky
Elizabeth Hibbler

educational programs

Senior Manager, Scholarship Programs
Grant Manager
Program Manager
Jamie Voskamp
Nellen Roland
Maggie Grogan

exhibits & events

Senior Manager, Exhibits & Events
Coordinator, Exhibits & Events
Amanda Schlatre
Amanda Cornell

horse show

Director, Horse Show
Coordinator, Horse Show
Stacy Scott
Ashley Dibbs

livestock competitions

Director, Livestock Competitions
Senior Coordinator, Livestock Show
Coordinator, Livestock Show
Coordinator, Livestock Show
Coordinator, Calf Scramble
Karl Hengst
Kyle Walker
Ashley Abston
Cheyenne Harrison
Amanda McGuire

wine show

Director, Wine Show
Coordinator, Wine Show
Coordinator, Wine Show
Jennifer Lindsay
Rachael Fernandez
Abigail Comstock

Revenue division

AMBER BURDA

CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER

 

Amber Burda is the Chief Revenue Officer for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. In this critical leadership role, Burda is responsible for driving the organization’s revenue growth by overseeing ticketing, corporate and business partnerships, and official sponsors. By leading and managing the sponsorship and ticketing departments, she collaborates closely with the marketing, mission, and strategic planning divisions to foster alignment and develop comprehensive plans that ensure the organization’s short-term and long-term success.

In January 2017, Burda was named the executive director of sponsorships, business, and corporate development. During this time, Burda led a team who create, design, develop, negotiate, and execute all official Rodeo sponsorships. Burda and team have the privilege of working with local, national, and international organizations to forge lasting partnerships and surpass top objectives. Her exceptional leadership and expertise resulted in a 48% increase from 2017 to 2023.

Prior to joining the Rodeo, Burda served as director of multi-channel sales planning with Houston-based retailer, Mattress Firm, Inc. There, she spent over six years managing and cultivating relationships with more than 300 events nationwide. Under her guidance, Mattress Firm became one of the top supporting sponsors across the event industry.

She graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality administration. Burda and her husband, Greg, live in Santa Fe, Texas, with their 9-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.

Chief Revenue Officer

Ticketing

Director, Ticketing
Manager, Ticketing
Manager, Rodeo Suites & Analytics
Specialist, Season Suites
Senior Specialist, Ticket Business Operations
Paula Urban
Dennis Moynihan
Kylar Walker
Angel Valdez
Alicia Pierce

Sponsorship, Business & Corporate Development

Manager, Business and Corporate Development
Manager, Business and Corporate Development
Manager, Sponsorship Fulfillment
Manager, Business and Corporate Development
Manager, Business and Corporate Development
Jenny Heinz
Cody Rosenbalm
Kris Rigby
Madison Brooks
Caleb Ambrose

Show Operations Division

MIKE DEMARCO

CHIEF SHOW OPERATIONS OFFICER

Mike DeMarco joined the Rodeo in 1990 as an assistant manager in the Operations Department and was named executive director of operations in 2004. In his role as chief show operations officer, DeMarco manages all aspects of Rodeo operations, event planning, buildings and grounds, and safety and security.

He attended the University at Buffalo and Rice University Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business for administration.

DeMarco is a life member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the Montgomery County Fair Association. He is also a lifetime director of the Pasadena Livestock Show and Rodeo and is a member of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, the International Association of Venue Managers and the Main Street Coalition Executive Board.

Chief Show Operations Officer
Director, Operations
Director, Show Operations Security & Safety
Manager, Operations
Coordinator, Operations
Senior Manager, Operations and BBQ
Coordinator, Operations and BBQ
Coordinator, Operations and BBQ
Senior Manager, Corral Club Operations
Coordinator, Corral Club Operations
Kyle Olsen
John Presley
Lindsay Klein
Andrea Perkins
Dalinda Cauble
Kennedy Gross
Brooke Henderson
Brandie Triola
Alexa Moore

Buildings & Grounds

Director, Buildings & Grounds
Manager, Event Services
Manager, Facility Services
Manager, Buildings & Grounds
Coordinator, Facility & Event Services
Coordinator, Buildings & Grounds
Coordinator, Buildings & Grounds
Manager, Warehouse Operations
Manager, Warehouse Operations
Senior Associate, Buildings & Grounds
Associate, Buildings & Grounds
Associate, Buildings & Grounds
Associate, Buildings & Grounds
Associate, Buildings & Grounds
Senior Associate, Buildings & Grounds
Associate, Buildings & Grounds
Senior Associate, Buildings & Grounds
Associate, Buildings & Grounds
Senior Associate, Buildings & Grounds
Associate, Buildings & Grounds
Bobby Richardson
Alex Briano
Brett Haney
Aaron Ortega
Stephanie Hendrickson
Amanda Todd
Angela Hodges
Jim Gadd
Jason Wilson
Peter Shaw
Jimmy Stuckey
Chaz Johnson
Glenn Cessna
Marcus Williams
Ricky Franke
Pete Crews
Nelson Moz
Larry Bostick
Mitchell Newman
Jesus Ramirez

Event Planning

Director, Event Operations
Manager, Hospitality Services
Manager, Event Operations
Coordinator, Event Operations
Senior Associate, Hospitality Services
Abbie Goldberg
Matthew DeSantis
Annie Mayer
Mackenzie Grocki
Carolyn James

Strategic Planning Division

PETER McSTRAVICK

CHIEF STRATEGIC PLANNING OFFICER

Peter McStravick serves as the chief strategic planning officer, responsible for overseeing strategic planning of the organization with emphasis on long-term land use.

Since joining the Rodeo in 2019, McStravick has overseen the development of an annual strategic plan, led two conceptual design processes that would enhance exhibitors’ and guests’ experiences, conducted processes for potential development of owned real estate and developed an expertise in the Rodeo’s long-term lease at NRG Park.

Prior to joining the Rodeo, McStravick served as Chief Development Officer for Houston First Corporation overseeing real estate projects that were developed for Super Bowls in 2004 and 2017.

Over the years, McStravick has volunteered his time for various organizations and has previously served on the boards of St. Agnes Academy, Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Arts Foundation and the Houston Botanic Garden and currently serves on the board of Houston Hospitality Alliance.

Away from work, McStravick stays busy with farm activities and spending time with family.

Chief Strategic Planning Officer
Strategic Planning & Execution Analyst

Technology division

STEVE GUMERMAN

CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER

Steve Gumerman joined the Rodeo in 2001 and most recently served as director of IT infrastructure where he managed network configurations, server maintenance, hardware procurement, and at times, the software domain. He has demonstrated a keen ability to manage the IT department's financial health, overseeing both expense and capital budgets to optimize resource allocation, creating opportunities for ongoing advancements in technology. Previously, Gumerman held programming and software development positions at Oracle, Price Waterhouse and Lockheed Missiles and Space Co.

As Chief Technology Officer at the Rodeo, Gumerman will lead the Technology Division, overseeing the Information Systems and Software Development departments. He will be responsible for identifying and implementing technology improvements for the Rodeo, its staff and volunteers.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science and Mathematics from Beloit College. As a young adult, Gumerman worked as an archaeologist each summer and visited the captivating landscapes of Black Mesa in Arizona, where he focused on excavating the ancient Ancestral Puebloan sites.

Chief Technology Officer

Information Systems

Sr. IT Infrastructure Administrator
Director, IT Infrastructure
Manager, IT Help Desk
Help Desk Technician
DevOps Engineer
IT Administrator
Network Administrator
Steve Clausen
Allen Rountree
Randy Moore
Joe Thompson
Kevin Sherrill
Hoang Nguyen
Edwardo Garcia

Software Development

Director, Software Development
Data Architect
Senior Software Developer
Senior Software Developer
Database Developer
Senior Software Developer
Senior Customer Success Analyst
Quality Assurance Analyst
UI/UX Developer
Reji Rajan
Shahzad Naseer
Muhammad Saqib
Joseph Covington
Shoaib Ata
Majeed Arshad
Julie Hacker
Heather Nguyen
Ardensa Cartajona

Volunteer & Human Resources division

MELINDA “MEL” UNDERHILL

CHIEF VOLUNTEER & HR OFFICER

As Chief Volunteer and HR Officer, Melinda ‘Mel’ Underhill is responsible for maintaining a positive and collaborative environment at the Rodeo. She manages the hiring, training, professional development and performance evaluation processes for the Rodeo’s 130-plus staff and 35,000 volunteers. Underhill also oversees all internal communications across Rodeo staff and volunteers.

Prior to joining the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, she served as an Executive Vice President at Direct Energy and Centrica. As an EVP, Underhill was the Global Head of Organization Effectiveness and led Strategic HR Business Partnering for the Commercial Business Division. She was responsible for leading a global team of HR partners, providing strategic consultation and developing talent capabilities and leading global internal communications and culture transformation.

Underhill holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin and has received multiple HR certifications. She is the Vice Chairman for the Executive Women’s Partnership, a premier networking group for female executives of Houston companies with $100 million-plus revenue, and serves on numerous boards such as the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council.

Chief Volunteer & HR Officer

human resources

Director, Human Resources
Human Resource Generalist
Dana Seymour
Jennifer Alvarado

Internal Communications

Director, Internal Communications
Specialist, Internal Communications
Pegi Newhouse
Brooke Meckelborg

membership

Director, Membership
Coordinator, Membership
Coordinator, Membership
Associate, Membership & Front Desk
Katie Luckett
Sandra Rodriguez
Avery Cooper
Unique Andrews