March 20, 2018
When the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo rolls into town, JLL’s Wendy Vandeventer takes on a second job.
By day, Wendy is a senior vice president of retail investment sales with JLL’s Capital Markets group, but volunteering with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has been a labor of love she’s willingly taken on for more than 20 years.
This past weekend, Wendy completed her second year as a rodeo vice president. When she began her three-year term, she was only the eighth female vice president in the rodeo’s 85-year history.
Each of the 18 vice presidents oversee five committees. For Wendy, that means leading almost 2,000 volunteers on the Gatekeepers, Trailblazer, Horticulture, Houston General Go Texan and Mutton Bustin’ committees.
This year, the rodeo was aided by more than 33,000 volunteers across 108 committees. These volunteers save the organization millions in payroll costs and, this year, helped Rodeo Houston honor the $26.7 million commitment to youth and education grants and scholarships.
Wendy’s first rodeo was in 1996.
“When a title company guy suggested I get involved with the rodeo, I laughed,” recalled Wendy.
One of her first committees was Breeders Greeters, which welcomes rodeo participants as they arrive in Houston throughout all hours of the day and night.
“If they’re coming off the freeway at 2 a.m., we’re going to be there to greet them,” she said. “It’s something so different than sitting in front of a computer with your business suit on.”
Wendy is also a founding member of the Gatekeepers, the group that manages ticket scanning and show entry.
“With roughly 1,400 volunteers, Gatekeepers is one of the most accessible committees for newcomers. “I was there when it started, and I ended up being the chairman – I call Gatekeepers my home. But everyone thinks their committee is the best committee, and they truly believe that.”
During rodeo season, Wendy leaves the office around 3 p.m. for NRG Park, where Rodeo Houston happens. Often she’ll work there until 11:30 p.m. She admits she doesn’t sleep well during rodeo, but for her it’s well worth it.
“It’s a huge part of my life, and my social life. You kind of get bitten by the bug, that’s what happened to me.”