For Vernon Middleton Lewis, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ is a family affair. Lewis became involved with the Rodeo because his mother’s family and father, Vernon Lewis Sr., were active on the Black Heritage Committee. Lewis joined the Junior Rodeo Committee (JRC) in 2005, later taking a year-long hiatus when his father died. “I noticed my father valued the Rodeo so much and was so excited for Rodeo season, so I said, ‘okay, let me come back to the committee because this is all he talked about,’” Lewis said.

In 2012, Lewis was awarded scholarships from the Show totaling $25,000. The scholarships helped alleviate his family’s double financial burden for him and his twin brother to attend college. The scholarships also provided him access to mentorship opportunities, and in 2014, he completed his undergraduate degree in international business and accounting at Houston Christian University (HCU, formerly Houston Baptist University). He later obtained a master’s degree in business administration with a focus in accounting, also from HCU, and has earned several professional accounting certifications since. “Education runs deeply in my family,” Lewis said.  

He now serves as the director of the City of Houston’s Treasury Department. His department manages $6 billion in investments, $14 billion in debt and the city’s banking system. In 2023, Lewis was selected as an advisory board member for HCU’s Archie W. Dunham College of Business and appointed the youngest board director for the Association of Public Treasurers of the U.S. and Canada. He also serves as a captain on the Black Heritage Committee, which he joined in 2017 to support his sister, Rodeo Vice President Wendy Lewis Armstrong, when she began her term as the committee chairman. And, in yet another full-circle moment, he began working with the JRC again in 2023, mentoring others just as he had been mentored as a teenager.

Lewis encourages individuals, especially those of African American descent, to apply for every scholarship from the Rodeo and spread the word about them, too. “Give back and tell students, especially in low-income communities, that you do not have to look at something and assume that it’s not for you,” he said.