Program Speakers and Staff

Phone: 651.302.4571

Chris Fischer

Director, Organizational Effectiveness — Business Development Services
Land O’Lakes, Inc.

Chris Fischer has broad experience in talent management, leadership development, executive coaching and assessment. He has facilitated several programs in Global 1000 and Fortune 500 organizations, both domestically and internationally. With strong roots in applied psychology and experience working with top corporations, Chris is able to tailor his facilitation for individual learning and skills enhancement.

Organizational development requires moving beyond the comfort zone of the established company’s culture. Chris’s style is to be a trusted partner during this period of change. With a combination of a high-energy approach and a warm and caring style, he creates a safe environment where individuals can explore ideas, experiment with new skills and create new and more effective habits. Chris is practical in his approach, inviting people to step up and actually work on their dreams and aspirations.


Phone: 651.766.1742

Loren Heeringa

Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
Land O’Lakes, Inc.

Loren Heeringa is senior vice president and chief human resources officer for Land O’Lakes, Inc., a $14 billion, food and agribusiness company. Heeringa has more than 30 years of human resources and change management experience in multiple companies and industries. Prior to joining Land O’Lakes, Heeringa was vice president of human resources at Honeywell International’s global core business and vice president of human resources at the University of St. Thomas. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota and completed coursework for a Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology at the University of Minnesota. He is a member of several boards, including co-chair of the Board of Governors of the HR Leadership Summit.

Phone: 765.494.4222

Mike Boehlje

Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Economics
Purdue University

Mike Boehlje is a distinguished professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and the Center for Food and Agricultural Business at Purdue University. He previously held faculty and administrative positions at Iowa State University, University of Minnesota and Oklahoma State University. Mike has devoted his career to helping farm and agribusiness managers and policymakers understand the pragmatic economic and financial consequences of their decisions.

The fundamental focus of his work has been to integrate concepts of economics, finance and strategy to solve problems of farm and agribusiness managers.

Phone: 765.494.4323

Allan Gray

Professor of Agricultural Economics
Land O’Lakes Chair for Food and Agribusiness
Director, Center for Food and Agricultural Business
Purdue University

Allan Gray serves as director of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business and the MS-MBA in Food and Agribusiness Management. He joined the agricultural economics faculty at Purdue University in August 1998. Allan currently holds the position of Land O’Lakes Chair in Food and Agribusiness.

As director, Allan provides strategic direction for the center and MS-MBA in Food and Agribusiness Management, a dual-degree, online program offered in partnership by Purdue and Indiana University. He works with food and agribusiness managers in the center’s professional development seminars and workshops, while also continuing to teach strategic agribusiness management in the undergraduate, master’s and MS-MBA programs.

Phone: 765.494.4325

Scott Downey

Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics
Associate Director, Center for Food and Agricultural Business
Purdue University

Scott Downey is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics, where he teaches courses in sales and marketing. He is coordinator of the sales and marketing degree program. He joined Purdue University on a full time basis in 2000 after spending 15 years in the financial services industry. He is the lead author of “ProSelling: A Professional Approach to Selling in Agriculture and Other Industries.”

Scott is also an associate director of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business. He teaches in many of the center’s programs. He is a frequent speaker and consultant for agribusiness industry sales teams on professional development topics like precision selling, sales management and competitive sales strategies. The discovery process he created has been adopted by Fortune 300 companies and has been presented all over the world.

Phone: 785.532.2573

Brian Briggeman

Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics
Director, Arthur Capper Cooperative Center
Kansas State University

Brian Briggeman joined the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University in July 2011 as an associate professor and director of the Arthur Capper Cooperative Center. His research interests include agricultural finance, agribusiness and cooperative management and macroeconomic implications for U.S. agriculture. Brian has received competitive grant funding for his research, which has been published in many leading academic and trade press journals. He also provides expert commentary on agricultural and rural issues to local and national audiences. During the spring semester, Brian teaches agricultural finance to undergraduates.

Prior to joining Kansas State University, Brian was an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City where he conducted research and presented agricultural and regional issues to the community, media and bank senior officials. He holds a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness from Kansas State University, a master’s degree in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University and a doctorate in agricultural economics from Purdue University.

Phone: 765.494.4328

April Sauer

Managing Director, Center for Food and Agricultural Business
Purdue University

April Sauer is the managing director of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business at Purdue University. She received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of New Mexico and her master’s degree in business administration at Wake Forest University. April’s primary responsibilities include serving as chief operating officer and chief financial officer for the center. April manages daily operations and staff, along with the yearly management and projection of workload for the professional staff team. She monitors gross revenue of almost $2 million per year.

April comes to the center from a career in healthcare operations. She has most recently opened a medi-spa in Chicago. Prior to that, she was a practice administrator for a large multi-specialty physician practice, Arnett Clinic, for 12 years. In her tenure with Arnett, she facilitated several small group programs with physicians and one educational meeting for all 140 physicians and providers at Arnett.

Phone: 765.494.7678

Danielle Quirk

Event Manager, Center for Food and Agricultural Business
Purdue University

Danielle Quirk is an event manager for the Center for Food and Agricultural Business. She is responsible for managing all of the logistical details pertaining to hosting a center seminar, workshop or conference. Danielle manages these programs on campus, statewide, nationally, and even internationally depending on the location and needs of the client with whom she works. Danielle’s goal in this position is to provide thorough logistical planning and high-quality support to staff , faculty and participants alike, by addressing all inquiries and requests and facilitating a smooth and enriching Purdue learning experience.

Prior to joining the center, Danielle was a program manager for the Kelley School of Business’ executive education, Kelley Executive Partners at Indiana University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational communications from Ball State University.