Riverland Names Heather Conley VP of Academics and Innovation

Release Date: June 27, 2024

Dr. Heather Conley

Riverland Community College has named Dr. Heather Conley Vice President of Academics and Innovation.  Dr. Conley has most recently been working as an Independent Contractor and has previous academic work experience at Minnesota State College Southeast, Highlands College at Montana Technological University, Kirkwood Community College, Simpson College, Iowa State University and Montana State University Billings. 

Dr. Conley holds a Bachelor of Science from Northwest Missouri State University, and a Master of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Iowa, all in Geography.


Inspired by her own journey as the first in her family to attend college, she is dedicated to transforming the lives of students and their families through access to quality education. A strong advocate for community colleges, Conley’s accomplishments include spearheading initiatives to address achievement gaps among historically excluded groups, expanding work-based learning opportunities, implementing career academies and certifications for high school students, and launching multiple academic programs in emerging technical careers. Conley has raised approximately $100 million in external funding, primarily supporting student success initiatives, academic programming, and adults with barriers to education and employment. Her work with community-based organizations and workforce development boards has focused on identifying new economic opportunities, attracting new businesses and industries, and developing a highly skilled workforce.

“Heather brings with her a strong background in academics, grants, and workforce partnerships. She will play an integral role in the future of Riverland’s academic programming, ensuring that our graduates have the skills to serve our region’s business and industry.” said Riverland President Kat Linaker. “Additionally, her commitment to student success will help the college in our work to transform lives through increased economic mobility.”

Conley begins July 1, 2024, and will be officed primarily on the Austin Campus in the West Building; however, she will also work with faculty and staff in Albert Lea and Owatonna.