January 18, 2023

Carly Colombo
484-385-2934 (office)
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Trevor D. Rees-Jones, Founder and CEO of Chief Oil & Gas, to Receive 2023 Horatio Alger Award 

Horatio Alger Association names 13 outstanding individuals, each of whom has overcome adversity to achieve professional and personal success, to its Member Class of 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 18, 2023) – Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, today announced that Trevor D. Rees-Jonesfounder and CEO of Chief Oil & Gas, has been selected for membership in this prestigious organization. Mr. Rees-Jones joins 12 other exceptional business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2023 honors. For 76 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to education and charitable efforts in their communities. 

Mr. Rees-Jones was born and raised in University Park, Texas to humble parents who worked as a lawyer and a housewife.  He majored in history at Dartmouth College and earned a law degree from Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law.  Following in his father’s footsteps, Mr. Rees-Jones began a career in law working as a bankruptcy attorney specializing in oil and gas reorganization law.  After a few years he found himself much more interested in the oil and gas business than the legal work.  So, in 1984 he left a stable law career with a consistent paycheck to search for oil and gas on a speculative basis.  At the time of this decision, Mr. Rees-Jones had only $4,000 in the bank but had talked a local Dallas bank into extending him a $48,000 line of credit, so he had 13 months of living expenses covered.

Over the next ten years, Mr. Rees-Jones persevered as a small independent in the oil and gas business, putting prospects and deals together, raising money from investors and getting a lot of wells drilled; however, with no major breakthroughs.  At one point, he drilled 17 dry holes in a row.  During this period, his household was surviving month-to-month and Mr. Rees-Jones feared for how he was going to feed his family.  Several times throughout those early years his small earnings would dry up and he’d be broke again.  After a decade of this uncertain work, he founded Chief Oil & Gas in 1994 to pursue a lower risk strategy.  Mr. Rees-Jones was the company’s sole employee in 500 square feet of office space.  After several more years of less than stellar drilling results, his luck turned around in 2000-2001 when he successfully expanded the Barnett Shale field pioneered by George Mitchell onto a large acreage position he had established.  By 2006, Chief Oil & Gas had nine rigs working and was the second largest producer in the Barnett Shale field in North Texas.  That year, Chief sold its natural gas production, leases and associated pipeline assets for $2.64 billion.  By 2021, Chief Oil & Gas had become one of the largest privately owned independent producers of natural gas in the country.  In March 2022, Chief Oil & Gas sold to Chesapeake Energy for $2.7 billion, the last of eight sales conducted by Chief from 2006 to 2022 aggregating over $10 billion.

“Mr. Rees-Jones exemplifies the importance of believing in yourself and refusing to give up when success isn’t happening quickly or easily,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director. “He took a risk leaving a steady law career because he knew his passion was elsewhere and showed tremendous dedication. By trusting his intuition and following a dream, he founded one of the most successful natural gas companies in the world. Mr. Rees-Jones will serve as a great source of inspiration to our Scholars and we are delighted to welcome him as a Member.”

In 2006, Mr. Rees-Jones and his wife, Jan, founded the Rees-Jones Foundation to support youth programs in North Texas. The Foundation has a particular interest in youth character development and improving living conditions for children and youth suffering from abuse, neglect, mental health issues, disabilities and other challenges. Today, the Foundation awards $50 million annually to people in need and has contributed over $500 million in grants, including $10 million in need-based scholarships at Dartmouth College.  Mr. Rees-Jones was the second recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from D CEO Magazine and was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame and the Junior Achievement’s Dallas Business Hall of Fame. He is a past president of the Dallas Petroleum Club and is a member of the All-American Wildcatters.

“It is an honor to be inducted into the Horatio Alger Association and be surrounded by other dedicated individuals who have persevered through adversity and believe deeply in the power of education,” said Trevor Rees-Jones. “I look forward to sharing my story with Scholars, learning about their passions and showing them what’s possible when you take chances.”

Since 1984, the Association has awarded annual need-based scholarships to high school students who have displayed dedication to pursuing higher education despite significant obstacles throughout their lives. The Association also aims to educate young people about the endless opportunities available by the free-enterprise system through commitment, honesty, and diligence. The scholarships are made possible through the Association thanks to the generosity of its Members, who will have collectively provided more than $245 million to 35,000 students by 2023.

“Each year, it is our utmost honor to present outstanding leaders who have displayed extraordinary perseverance in overcoming challenges with the Horatio Alger Award,” said James F. Dicke II, chairman, Horatio Alger Association and 2015 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “Each of these incredible leaders has also shared their success with others, giving generously to important causes and communities in need. The 2023 awardees exemplify the Association’s mission and are proof that the American Dream is within reach for all who seek it.”

Mr. Rees-Jones and the Member Class of 2023 will be formally inducted into the Association during the Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. from March 30 through April 1, 2023. The three-day event is an annual ceremony to honor both the achievements of Members and National Scholars, who will have multiple opportunities to meet, interact and exchange stories of perseverance. 

For more information about Horatio Alger Association and its Member Class of 2023, please visit and follow the organization on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

About Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans: 

Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. The Association honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity by bestowing upon them the Horatio Alger Award and inducting them as lifetime Members. Horatio Alger Members support promising young people with the resources and confidence needed to overcome adversity in pursuit of their dreams through higher education. Through the generosity of its Members and friends, in 2022, the Association awarded more than $18 million in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships to over 1,800 students across the United States and Canada, and provided college support and mentoring services to its Scholars. By the 40thanniversary of the Association’s scholarship program in 2024, more than $247 million will be awarded in undergraduate, graduate, military veteran and career and technical education scholarships to more than 37,000 deserving students. For more information, please visit