Since March 1987, the Bill Pickett Memorial Scholarship Fund (BPMSF) has demonstrated an abiding commitment to the rodeo, education and the arts. Our steadfast focus has been providing educational opportunities. The BPMSF is committed to enriching and enhancing the lives of African Americans and the heritage that African Americans contributed to the west. At the very core, we provide enriching educational, arts and cultural experiences to deserving communities.

The BPMSF plans to continue the tradition of supporting the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo (BPIR), increasing our scholarships and funding efforts. We provide an avenue for those seeking to develop their education goals, horseman skills and compete professionally through the BPIR. We help build strong communities by providing sponsorships through community outreach and scholarships.

We are a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, cultural and educational organization. Guided by the rich heritage and contributions that Africans Americans made to the American West, The Bill Pickett Memorial Scholarship Fund provides resources and funding to current and future generations.

Our Mission

The Bill Pickett Memorial Scholarship Fund (BPMSF) honors the rich culture and contributions of the Black Cowboy, Black Cowgirl and African Americans contributed to the west through our programs, community support and scholarship awards.

We will fulfill our mission by:

  • Preserving the heritage and contributions of African Americans in the west.
  • Providing scholarships to deserving students.
  • Preserving the legacy of our founder, Lu Vason, and his vision for the supporting our youth through scholarships and presenting the Bill Pickett Heritage Rodeo across the country.
  • Showcasing the Black Cowboy and Black Cowgirl through our Rodeo for Kidz Sake and other educational/development programs.
  • Honoring African American’s place in the West by continuing the heritage of Bill Pickett and Black Rodeos.

Our Goal

Our primary goal is promoting the Bill Picket Invitational Rodeo throughout this country through our education and scholarship programs. We have established four overarching goals that will shape our program areas as well as our funding decisions:

  1. Founder’s Scholarship – increase the number and dollar amount of scholarship awarded annually.
  2. Regional Scholarships – provide local scholarship in areas where the BPIR performs.
  3. Rodeo for Kidz Sake – provide a deep and broad understanding of the black cowboy and cowgirl.
  4. Board Development and Expansion - strong collaboration and support to enrich programs and networks.


The Bill Pickett Memorial Scholarship Fund (BPMSF) values:

  • Integrity – We act with honesty and integrity in everything we do
  • Passion – We are driven to by providing opportunities
  • Diversity – We value, appreciate and respect all people for their uniqueness.
  • Quality – We support the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo in providing a unique and meaningful rodeo experience.
  • Stewardship – We operate a fiscally responsible organization that is built on providing financial support to deserving communities.
  • Community – We support ongoing engagement within regions where the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo is presented.
  • Partnership – We achieve success by developing strong partnerships throughout the country.

Strategic Direction

Our balance of heritage and culture is visible in the Fund’s four program areas. We will continue much of our current work, discontinue past projects that have run their course, and embark on new and strengthened areas.

  1. Founder and Regional Scholarships Programs
  2. Kids Programs – Arts for Kidz Sake and Rodeo for Kidz Sake
  3. Educational Events - Area Personal Development Programs 
  4. Board Expansion and Development 

Our Value Proposition Statement

Our Heritage honors Culture! Building on the legacy and heritage of great people, we honor the rich culture and contributions that African American has made to the American West!

Chairman Initiatives

The BPMSF will focus our efforts on:

  1. Expand the direction and scope of the Board.
  2. Restructuring Scholarship Programs.
  3. Implementing Regional Scholarship Program.
  4. Implementing the Sedgwick Haynes Memorial Calf Roping Fee Grant.
  5. Provide greater opportunities to students through our Rodeo for Kidz Sake program.


BPMSF Board of Directors

The primary responsibility of board directors is to participate in the development of policy and major decision-making at board meetings held at least four times a year. Another key responsibility is to be active on an ongoing basis in a committee of the board.

Ken Johnson – Chair
Valeria Cunningham – Vice Chair
Margo Wade LaDrew – Secretary

Board Members

  • Terrance Carroll
  • Jeff DouVal
  • Happy Haynes
  • Randy Harris
  • Richard Lewis
  • Javonni Willis
  • Senator Angela Williams


Advisory Board Members

  • Barbara Shannon-Bannister
  • Ronnie Cunningham
  • Stephanie Haynes
  • James Pickett
  • Glynn Turman
  • Maurice Wade
  • Peggy Wortham