Dr. Denise Heard received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Poultry Science, Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, and aMaster of Science in Avian Medicine, all from the University of Georgia. She also holds a certificate of executive public leadership from Washington University / Harvard University. She is a board-certified poultry veterinarian through the American College of Poultry Veterinarians. She is an active participant and leader in several professional poultry organizations: American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Avian Pathologists, Georgia Veterinary Medical Association, National Poultry Improvement Plan General Conference Committee, USDA National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Consultation Board, North American Meat Institute Foundation for Meat and Poultry Research and Education Board of Directors.
Dr. Heard served as the senior coordinator for the United States Department of Agriculture National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) from 2011 to October of 2019. In this role, responsibilities included leading and overseeing the administration of the NPIP program in all 50 states and Puerto Rico; authorizing more than 100 NPIP laboratories across the country; coordinating rulemaking to incorporate into the federal regulations for the poultry industry; and managing the state administration of the NPIP through periodic reviews of the administrative procedures of the NPIP Official State Agencies.
She started her current position as the vice president of research for the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association in October 2019. Heard currently administers the Association’s and the Foundation’s comprehensive research program and Board Research Initiative program that encompasses all components of poultry and egg production and processing. She provides leadership of the Foundation’s Research Advisory Committee, receiving and evaluating research proposals and making recommendations to the board of directors for both organizations for funding approval. More than $34 million has been reinvested in research funding, with 50-plus universities and federal/state facilities receiving grants over the years. Currently the organizations are funding more than $1 million annually on a variety of industry-selected topics, spanning all sectors of the poultry industry.