Executive Management Team
Joel Cowley, Chief Executive Officer
Joel Cowley, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is responsible to the Board of Directors for leading the organization. Before taking on the role of CEO, Joel was most recently the president of Angus Genetics Incorporated, following 15 years with the internationally renowned Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. As president and CEO of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Cowley oversaw 135 full time employees and 35,000 volunteers and brings considerable strengths in leadership, communication, administration and business to the Calgary Stampede.
Joel has had a longstanding relationship with the Calgary Stampede and the Calgary community through his involvement in the agriculture industry over the past 30 years. Joel holds an M.B.A. from Michigan State University, a M.Sc. in Animal Science from Texas A&M University and a B.Sc. in Animal Science from Colorado State University.
Sarah Hayes, Vice-President – Foundation
Sarah Hayes has more than 20 years’ experience working in the charitable sector. A specialist in fundraising and capital campaigns, Sarah served as executive director of The Banff Centre Foundation and director of development for nine years. In this capacity, she directed The Banff Centre’s $127-million campaign with a national campaign cabinet.
Prior to joining The Banff Centre, Sarah served as vice-president of research for KCI (Ketchum Canada), a national fund-raising consulting firm. She oversaw the firm’s feasibility studies, audits and its national research department.
Sarah started her career working with the The University of Calgary’s Building on the Vision campaign and The Banff Centre’s Creative Edge campaign. Sarah serves on the board of the Alberta Jubilee Auditoria and has served on the boards of several industry associations, including the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Raised in Calgary, she holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree from Queen’s University. She was appointed executive director of the Calgary Stampede Foundation in 2010 and Vice-President in 2015.
Theresa Howland, Vice-President – Sponsorship, Marketing & Employee Services
Theresa joined the Stampede in 2013 and has held leadership roles in sponsorship, marketing and communications. She was appointed as Vice-President, Sponsorship, Marketing & Employee Services in 2018.
In this role, Theresa is responsible for providing executive leadership to the Stampede’s Sponsorship, Marketing and Employee Services teams strategically focused on community alignment, collaborative relationships and providing services in support of the Stampede team.
Theresa has nearly 20 years’ experience with community organizations and the renewable energy industry, where she held senior management positions. She is also a community leader, having held volunteer board director positions with a number of not-for-profit organizations. Theresa has a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Calgary.
Jim Laurendeau, Vice-President – Park Planning & Development
Jim Laurendeau is responsible for the execution of our Master Plan, including the build-out of our Youth Campus, the reintroduction of 17th Avenue through Stampede Park, and the integration of BMO Centre expansion. As well, Jim oversees park operations and some of the Stampede’s critical relationships including with The City of Calgary, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation and neighbouring communities.
Since joining the organization in 1999, Jim has held increasingly senior roles in various departments, including leading the operational response that allowed more than 1.1 million visitors to attend The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth just 14 days after the worst flood in Canadian history. Jim is the Past President of the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions.
Graeme Ryder, Vice-President – Business Services & Chief Financial Officer
Graeme Ryder joined the Stampede mid-2018 as Vice-President, Business Services and Chief Financial Officer. In addition to providing executive leadership to the Stampede’s Business Services team, he is responsible for providing long-term strategic direction and oversight of the organization’s overall finances, information technology, insurance services, and financial risk management practices.
Graeme has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Calgary and is a Chartered Accountant. He is currently the executive lead on the Stampede’s Audit and Finance committee and Pension committee, and is Vice- President of Cowboys Casino. Prior to joining the Stampede, Graeme was a senior executive in the public energy industry with more than 15 years of accounting and finance experience.
LaVonne Walt, Vice-President – Volunteer Services, Corporate Communications & Corporate Secretary
LaVonne joined the Stampede in 2012 and became Vice-President, Volunteer Services, Communications & Corporate Secretary in 2018. She was first appointed as an officer of the organization by the Calgary Stampede board of directors in March 2015.
In addition to providing executive leadership to the Stampede’s Volunteer Services and Corporate Communications teams, she is also responsible for ensuring the integrity of the organization’s governance framework, ensuring compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements and facilitating the implementation of decisions made by the CEO and the Board of Directors.
LaVonne has a Master’s Degree in Communications and Technology from the University of Alberta. She currently sits on the Stampede Casino (GP) Ltd. Board of Directors, is co-executive lead for the Stampede’s Governance & People and Strategy Committees and is the executive lead for the Stampede’s Nominating & Shareholder Relations Committee.