President & CEO
President & CEO
Brian Hanson became APEX’s President and CEO in June of 2012. During the fifteen years prior to joining APEX, Hanson was involved in business and community development in both the public and private sector, specializing in economic development finance, regional marketing, and executive-level prospect development. Hanson is accomplished in strategic industry research, strategic planning, and financial modeling in support of business expansion activities. His work has contributed to several significant regional business expansion, retention and attraction projects in industries including mining, engineering, manufacturing, heavy aircraft maintenance and data centers.
Mr. Hanson holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Prior to entering economic and business development, he spent seven years in the accounting field as an auditor and a cost analyst. Hanson has had the opportunity to perform economic development at the City of Duluth, the State of Minnesota (Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation) and Minnesota Power, an ALLETE Company. Hanson is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional through the National Development Council. He has served on several regional development partnerships and nonprofit boards including the Iron Range Economic Alliance, the Arrowhead Growth Alliance, the Northspan Group and Junior Achievement of the Northland.
Director, Business Development
Elissa Hansen joined the APEX team in February 2011. Her duties encompass all aspects of attracting, expanding, and retaining businesses in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin, in support of the APEX mission and vision for private sector business development. Using all available resources, Hansen focuses on ensuring that the region’s employers receive private-sector support.
Hansen is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional through the National Development Council and earned her BS in Marketing and MBA from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. She is also a Blandin Community Leadership Program graduate.
A native of Brainerd, Hansen joins APEX after a successful track record working as the Economic Development Specialist with the Brainerd Lakes Area Development Corporation and as a Regional Coordinator for the Carlton-Cook-Lake-St. Louis Community Health Board in Duluth.
Since moving to Duluth in 2010, Hansen has been able to connect with the community and explore many of the area amenities. She loves the northland and enjoys what the region offers in art and culture and to outdoor enthusiasts.
Sandy Johnson joined the APEX team in September of 2008. Her responsibilities include all administrative details required to support a dynamic, high energy office environment, while further coordinating company events, providing research for various projects and assisting APEX members in meeting their needs.
Sandy graduated from the University of Maryland in College Park, MD with a B.A. in Performing Arts. After graduating, she performed professionally for many years in music theatre and cabaret shows, traveling from the East Coast to St. Louis and Chicago and later to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. After retiring as a performer, Sandy joined the marketing team at Universal Pictures in Burbank, CA, as an Administrative Assistant. One year later she was promoted to Special Projects Coordinator and was charged with producing movie premieres and other special events for the studio.
Sandy moved to the Minneapolis area in 1991 and married her husband, Todd. She worked as the Marketing and Project Coordinator for Kelleher Construction and Kelleher Environmental, where she developed and managed their emergency response program. In 1998, Sandy accepted a Sales Service Representative position working for North Star Steel (a Cargill Company) in Edina, MN. She was responsible for maintaining and managing many aspects of customer accounts, soliciting new business and serving on the Employee Advocacy Team. In 2000, the family moved to Duluth where she worked as an Administrative Assistant for the Duluth Head Start program for two and half years before joining the APEX team.