Spotlight: Get to Know Our Board of Directors

Over the last three years, the Greater Fergus Falls team has made great strides in our mission to support local businesses and grow the region’s economy. Along the way, we’ve had the pleasure of working with some truly talented and inspiring individuals. The Greater Fergus Board of Directors is no exception.


Our board is composed of local leaders that represent various sectors of the community, including the arts, education, healthcare, philanthropy, government, and more. It’s because of them and their dedication that we’ve accomplished so much in such a short time. Each board member brings such a passion to everything they do, and we couldn’t ask for a better group of people to support our mission.


With that in mind, we wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of our board members with a quick Q&A. Keep reading to learn more about Elise Heifort, Steve Rufer, and Allison Stock!


Elise Heifort

Attorney, Pemberton Law


What made you want to settle in the Fergus Falls region and what do you like best about living and working here?

I was born and raised in Fergus Falls and have always loved the community because of the outdoor activities that are available. I love water skiing in the summer, walking around Lake Alice after work, and rollerblading on the Central Lakes Trail.

What attracted you to Greater Fergus Falls and how long have you served on the Board of Directors?

I started serving Greater Fergus Falls in August of 2021. I was attracted to the organization because I wanted to find a way to get involved with the community and be a part of the exciting growth opportunities in our area.

What do you think makes the Greater Fergus Falls mission powerful?

Through supporting existing and new businesses, Greater Fergus Falls helps cultivate a strong and healthy community!


What unique experience do you bring to the board, and why do you think it's valuable to the overall mission?

As a young professional new to the community, I hope to provide fresh ideas to address workforce staffing concerns in our area.

With so many great organizations in the area, why should others choose to support Greater Fergus Falls?

Greater Fergus Falls is dedicated to finding creative ways to source new development opportunities in our community, including generating innovative ways to promote existing sites for redevelopment opportunities. It is very rewarding to contribute to the successful projects in our community!


To date, what's your favorite program that Greater Fergus Falls developed or has taken part in?

Especially with a competitive labor market, the Virtual Career Fair is a great event because it exposes students to different career opportunities in our area and provides local employers with an opportunity to attract and recruit talent.

What's the single best piece of advice you've ever received?

Every mistake has a lesson, so never forget to reflect and write down the key takeaways!


If you could only visit one local restaurant for the next year, which one would it be and what would you order?

I would visit Toast and order the delicious Swedish Pancakes and Salmon Toast!

What are your top 3 "can't miss" destinations in the Fergus Falls region?

Perks Coffee & Tea is a “can’t miss” destination because the menu has something for everyone, and the breakfast sandwiches are incredible! After visiting Perks, I highly recommend walking around Lake Alice. Finally, browsing through The Market and The Bric downtown is wonderful because both retailers offer a variety of unique goods.


Learn more about Elise here.


Steve Rufer

Attorney, Pemberton Law


What do you like best about living and working in the Fergus Falls community?

I grew up here swimming and water skiing at the lake. Fergus is the right size city to provide amenities and is close enough to larger cities to provide what Fergus doesn’t.


What attracted you to Greater Fergus Falls and how long have you served on the Board of Directors?

I’m an original member of the board. I want to see the city grow and progress. Greater Fergus Falls is a great vehicle to make that happen.


What makes the Greater Fergus Falls mission powerful to you?

I want my children and grandchildren to have great jobs available to them here if they want to stay in or return to the area.


What unique experience do you bring to the board, and why do you think it's valuable to the overall mission?

I like doing rather than planning, and that’s a mantra of Greater Fergus Falls.


What role does Greater Fergus Falls and its mission to facilitate economic growth play in the success of our community?

Without growth and progress, a city slides backward. Nothing else can succeed here if the economy isn’t moving ahead.


Why do you think Greater Fergus Falls is an important community asset?

Greater Fergus Falls has a single focus: economic growth, whether growing existing business, bringing in new business, or assisting start-ups. No one else is charged with that vital task.


Is there anything that you have found surprising about being a board member?

The talents of the board and staff are beyond my expectations. Greater Fergus Falls has great board members from all walks of life and business.


What is a personal or professional accomplishment that you're most proud of?

Watching Pemberton Law grow during the time I’ve been there from five to 23 talented lawyers.


What's the single best piece of advice you've ever received?

“Do or do not. There is no try.” - Yoda. (He also said, “The greatest teacher, failure is.”)


If someone was visiting the region for the weekend, what shops, retailers, or destinations would you recommend they check out?

Lundeen’s, the Market, Soapwerks, Dandelion & Burdock, Historical Society Museum Gift Shop, Gift Shop at Prairie Wetlands, and Meadow Farm Foods.


What do you think the Fergus Falls region offers that you may not find in other rural communities or larger cities and why?

It has a little of everything! Lakes all over the place, including within the city limits; 2 rivers for canoeing and kayaking; art galleries (Zachmann Studios, Kaddatz, M State gallery, Lake Region Arts Council); performing arts (Center for the Arts, M State); 2 state parks within 25 miles; vibrant downtown; a variety of great restaurants; Central Lakes Trail; bike-friendly city; Prairie Wetlands Learning Center; many local hiking trails; great hospital and doctors; Pebble Lake swimming beach; indoor and outdoor recreation such as hockey arenas; great schools and college.


Learn more about Steve here.


Allison Stock

Vice President of Communications & Public Affairs, The Peterson Group


Why did you choose to settle in the Fergus Falls Region?

I grew up in Fergus Falls, and after college, I moved back to the region because of a job opportunity and settled in Fergus Falls a few years later. Living in Fergus Falls allows me to be close to family and the lakes, and my ability to work from home allows me flexibility and easy access to activities that I love to do.

What attracted you to Greater Fergus Falls and how long have you served on the Board of Directors?

I joined Greater Fergus Falls about six months after it was formed. I was attracted to how focused and enthusiastic all of the board members were in addressing challenging issues that our community was facing after the loss of some major retailers.


In your opinion, what do you think makes the Greater Fergus Falls mission powerful?

The Greater Fergus Falls mission is powerful to me because we really are the go-to resource to retain, expand, and grow our diverse business community.


What unique experience do you bring to the board, and why do you think it's valuable to the overall mission?

I spent 25 years in public service, mostly working with rural communities dealing with economic development and natural disaster recoveries. Understanding how others have persevered in challenging times helps us to develop strategically as our own community looks to stay strong and grow.


What would you say to encourage others to support Greater Fergus Falls?

Greater Fergus Falls is an easy organization to invest in because our work encompasses all kinds of business and economic development that touches each and every one of us in the region.


Why do you think Greater Fergus Falls is an important community asset?

Greater Fergus Falls is an absolutely critical organization to have in today's world. Other communities that are our size have similar efforts in place, and in order to stay competitive in attracting and retaining business, we have to have the right tools to make it happen.


Is there anything that you found surprising about being a board member?

I’m constantly surprised at the dedication, commitment, and passion that my fellow board members have for our community and this organization. The depth of knowledge and experience that our board and staff have to give back to our community has been an unknown quantity, and we need to continue our efforts to make that known.


What's the single best piece of advice you've ever received?

Be confident in what you already know.


What are your top 3 "can't miss" destinations in the Fergus Falls region?

My top three places to brag about in our beautiful city are the Central Lakes Trail, our amazing public library, and dinner at Union Pizza and Brewing.


If someone had 48 hours to spend in the region, what local destinations would you tell them to visit?

I would recommend to visitors here for the weekend that they check out Outstate Brewing, Union Pizza, Otter Tail County Historical Society, and Otter Cove Children’s Museum.


Learn more about Allison here.


Special thanks to Elise, Steve, and Allison for sharing their insights and experience. We hope you enjoyed getting to know them a little better! Want to learn more about the Greater Fergus Falls Board of Directors? Get to know us here — and be sure to follow along here and on Facebook for more board member spotlights in the future!


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