Susan L. Laughlin, MBA

Lead Adjunct Faculty, Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership
CEO | Founder of Appel Foods, LLC

Susan Laughlin is the Founder and CEO of Appel Foods, LLC. She started her specialty food business in March of 2017, and scaled the business nationally, and to Canada, in the first year of operations. Appel Foods houses the brand Nut Crumbs, which is the first nut-based bread crumb alternative to hit the market. Her previous experience ranges from Director of Financial Services in a university setting, Operations Management in an international bridge engineering firm, Product Development in the fashion industry, and Chief Financial Officer in two start-ups. She brings a well-rounded business perspective, having worked in so many different industries in various positions. Susan is passionate about finance and entrepreneurship and received her bachelor’s degree in Philosophy at Miami University of Ohio and completed her MBA at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is married with three young boys and lives in San Diego, CA on some land with fruit trees and a rescue dog named Preacher. Susan is an avid foodie and wannabe chef and on the weekends you can find her in the kitchen!


  • POINT LOMA NAZARENE UNIVERSITY – San Diego, CA (2018) Master of Business Administration
    • Delta Mu Delta International Business Honor Society
    •  3.97 GPA
    •  Nersesian scholarship recipient
  • MIAMI UNIVERSITY OF OHIO - Oxford, OH (2005) Bachelor of Arts and Science, Philosophy

Courses Taught

  • Financial Reporting in Organizations

Experience in Field

Academic Administration and Teaching Experience

  • POINT LOMA NAZARENE UNIVERSITY - San Diego, CA (2015 – Present) Lead Adjunct Faculty, Masters of Organizational Leadership (2018 – Present)
  • Director of Student Financial Services for Graduate and Professional Studies, (2017 – 2018) Director of Student Accounts, (2015 –2017)
    • Provide leadership and manage a multifaceted team, including selection, training, development and evaluation.
    • Monitor accounts of enrolled and former students, responsible for the collection and allocation of student’s personal, federal and state financial aid monies.
    • Direct electronic returned payment receipts and maintenance for the using CashNet, Workday, Jenzibar, and PowerFAIDS.
    • Handle all high-level escalations, exceptions, and unusual circumstances in fast pace environment.
    • Insure the timely development and documentation of new and existing office policies & procedures.
    • Direct special billings to third parties who provide scholarships and other financial assistance to selected students.
    • Decreased the University’s outstanding balances and financial holds for all both Undergraduate and Graduate student populations.
    • Completed Strengths Leadership Training, Situational Self Leadership Training, and Emotional Intelligence Training.
  • LITTLE SPROUTS CHILD ENRICHMENT ACADEMY, INC. - San Diego, CA (2014 – 2015) Chief Financial Officer
    • Implemented and managed a comprehensive employee benefit program for the company.
    • Managed all human resources including hiring, on-boarding, payroll, benefit administration, worker’s compensation, termination, employee evaluations, compensation analysis, job posting, etc.
    • Directed all aspects of financial reporting systems, including: Payroll, account reconciliation, accounts receivable, ach payment system, expense reporting, and accounts payable.
    • Played a major role in company expansion into a second location, creating financial structure that assisted in increasing revenue from $600k to $1.9 M (annually) in less than 12 months.
    • Created systems to effectively manage the enrollment of over 180 children.
    • Responsible for all corporate insurance contracts.
    • Directed monthly budget and quarterly shareholder meetings.
    • Worked closely with school and facilities’ directors to create and maintain budgeting strategies and reporting systems

Institutional Service

  • Point Loma Nazarene University - San Diego, CA  
    • Member, AUG Student Appeals Committee, (2017 – 2018)
    • Chair, Withdrawals and Leave of Absences, (2017 – 2018)
    • Member, Enrollment Management and Operations Committee, (2015 – 2017)
    • Member Office of Global Studies Advisory Board, (2015 – 2017) Other:
    •  Treasurer, PacWest Student Financial Services Committee, ( 2017 – 2018)
    • Secretary, PacWest Student Financial Service Committee, ( 2016 – 2017)

Professional Experience

  • APPEL FOODS, LLC - San Diego, California (2017 – Present) CEO/Founder  
    • Founded a specialty food company from concept to production
    • Sourced, developed, and designed product and packaging.
    • Created and implemented marketing strategy and content for company.
    • Successfully launched to profitability in month one of start-up.
    • Landed specialty store accounts, including the San Diego locations of Williams-Sonoma. 
    •  Developed and trained team of brand ambassadors and employees.
  • HAPPENSTANCE, INC., San Diego, CA (2014 –2015) Co-Founder / Chief Financial Officer
    •  Developed and built professional shared workspace from the ground up, producing a profit in month 5.
    •  Successfully negotiated lease agreements, member subleases and all vendor contracts.
    • Oversaw facilities maintenance and new projects.
    • Prepared and analyzed financial planning reports, assessing performance against budgets and long-term strategy.
  • INTERNATIONAL BRIDGE TECHNOLOGIES, INC., San Diego, CA (2010 – 2014) Operations Manager 
    •  Directed all human resource functions of the firm including: payroll, benefit administration, employee evaluation, and workers’ compensation.
    • Supervised all engineering proposal submittals; resume writing, brochure editing, and application preparations.
    • Reviewed all project contracts, extracting pertinent information regarding company participation and billing strategies.
    •  Managed office remodel, working with contractors, architects and engineers.
    • Maintained and renewed all professional engineering (PE) licenses.
    • Responsible for account reconciliation, expense reporting, account receivables, and international syncing in QuickBooks.
  • FOOT PETALS, INC. - Long Beach, CA (2007 – 2010) Product Development Manager / West Coast Sales Executive
    •  #1 Sales Representative in Long Beach office 2007, 2008, and 2009, increasing sales 68%. 
    •  RSVP Award – 2008 – acknowledged creation of #1 private label program.
    • Directed entire product development process from concept through final retail product, including sourcing.
    • Developed spring 2010 collection featured in Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Zappos, and Rachel Zoe’s Top 10 Spring Picks.

Dissertations, Presentations, and Publications

  • “Marketing a Start-up,” guest lecture for Point Loma Nazarene University Principles of Marketing class, San Diego, CA, November 14, 2017, January 10, 2018
  • Appel Foods, demo and presentation at Williams Sonoma, UTC San Diego, September & October 2017
  •  “The Art of Getting Things Done,” presentation at the Graduate and Professional Studies all staff meeting, San Diego, CA, October 2017.
  • “Crucial Conversations,” presentation at the Graduate and Professional Studies all staff meeting, San Diego, CA, August 2017.
  • Whole Brain Thinking, presentation at the Graduate and Professional Studies all staff meeting, Point Loma, CA, April 2017
  • Financial Aid 101, presentation at College preview sessions, Point Loma, CA, 2015-2017.
  • “How to Say Anything to Anyone,” presentation at the Student Financial Services all staff meeting, Point Loma, CA, June 2017.
  • Best Practices Bursar/Cashiering, presentation as a panel at the PacWest SFS Conference, La Jolla, CA, May 2017.
  • “The Art of Getting Things Done,” presentation at the Student Financial Services all staff meeting, Point Loma, CA, March 2017.
  • “Crucial Conversations,” presentation at the Student Financial Services all staff meeting, Point Loma, CA, September 2016.  Whole Brain Thinking, presentation at the Student Financial Services all staff meeting, Point Loma, CA, April 2017  “How to Pay for College”, presentation at Linford High School, Temecula, CA, October 2016.