For the past thirteen years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has collaborated with Energage, a workplace consulting firm based out of Philadelphia, to survey employees of southeastern Wisconsin companies and award the Top Workplaces honor. All Top Workplaces awards are based solely on employee feedback, making the award one of the most credible employer recognition programs.

Energage’s employee feedback survey analyzes job satisfaction and engagement along with the values and organizational health of the company. The process aims to capture several aspects of workplace culture including alignment, performance and connection, to name a few.

“The most valuable asset of WaterStone Bank is its employees,” said Doug Gordon, CEO of WaterStone Bank. “We hire great people and give them the freedom to be exceptional. Being a great place to work is the difference between a good company and a great company.”

In addition to being known for its excellent customer service and robust charitable foundation, the bank provides employees with a flexible work environment, opportunities for personal and professional development, and exemplary benefits.

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Hundreds of community members brought their confidential files to Prevail Bank branches in Wisconsin Rapids, Marshfield, and Eau Claire to be shredded and recycled.

In 12 hours, 100 trees were saved from being cut, mulched, and pulverized. No, there weren’t communes of individuals using themselves as human shields, rather hundreds participated in three free Shred Day events organized by Prevail Bank. Nearly six (6) tons, or 11,500 pounds, of paper was collected for recycling purposes.

According to the University of Southern Indiana’s paper recycling calculations, six tons of paper can save 100 trees, 53 barrels of oil, nearly 18 cubic yards of landfill space, 23,600 kilowatts of energy (which, to a teenager’s gaming delight, would power a desktop computer and monitor for 2.5 days), and 41,300 gallons of water, enough to fill three 24’ above ground pools.

“Recycling paper is a simple way for America to reduce its carbon footprint,” said Nathan Quinnell, president of Prevail Bank. “The public’s response to our events was astounding. If this success is duplicated in May when we have six other events scheduled, 18 tons of recycled paper will be collected. That’s a lot of trees. ” said Quinnell.

Americans use 85,000,000 tons of paper a year; about 680 pounds per person. If America recycled just one tenth of its newspapers, the country could save approximately 25,000,000 trees a year. Trees absorb carbon dioxide. For every ton of paper recycled, 17 trees are saved. Those 17 trees will absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. On the flip-side, burning a ton of paper creates 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases, that if over abundant, can trap and hold too much heat within the Earth’s atmosphere thereby causing global warming. The rising average temperatures could cause ice caps to melt, oceans to warm, rising sea levels, extreme weather events such as heatwaves, heavy downpours and wildfires, disrupted access to food, and an increasing spread of disease such as malaria.

Prevail Bank is doing its part. It has scheduled six additional Shred Day events: May 10 (10–1 PM) at Prevail Bank Medford, May 11 (10–1 PM) at Prevail Bank Owen, May 11 (11–2 PM) at Prevail Bank in Baraboo, May 12 (9–5 PM) at Prevail Bank Stevens Point, May 13 (8:30–5 PM) at Prevail Bank in Wausau, May 18 (1–4 PM) at Prevail Bank in Phillips. Participants do not need to be customers of Prevail Bank. Three boxes per person is the limit.

“Prevail Bank is very cognizant of its effect on the environment, in addition to the welfare and economic stability of the communities and the people we serve,” shared Quinnell. “We’re passionate about giving back and pursuing what is possible.”

Other ways to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere include: using renewable and clean energy sources, reducing travel by car or plane, buying long-lasting products, shopping seasonally and locally.

Those Prevail Bank branches that accumulated the 11,500+ pounds of paper were located in Wisconsin Rapids, Marshfield, and Eau Claire.

Port Washington State Bank has been awarded a Top Workplaces 2022 honor by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Top Workplaces. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by employee engagement technology partner Energage LLC. The anonymous survey uniquely measures 15 culture drivers that are critical to the success of any organization: including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few.

“We’re incredibly honored by this recognition 11 years in a row. Our staff has been immensely patient and giving of their time during the past couple years while the pandemic impacted all of our lives,” said James Schowalter, president and COO.

“During this very challenging time, Top Workplaces has proven to be a beacon of light for organizations, as well as a sign of resiliency and strong business performance,” said Eric Rubino, Energage CEO. “When you give your employees a voice, you come together to navigate challenges and shape your path forward. Top Workplaces draw on real-time insights into what works best for their organization, so they can make informed decisions that have a positive impact on their people and their business.”

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Pictured left to right are: Melissa Reindl, Heidi Hartz, Jean Skogman and sophomore student Cole Schwartz.

May 2–6 is Teacher Appreciation Week. Parents of Johnson Creek Middle/High School rallied together to give thanks to the education leaders of the Johnson Creek School District. For years, a group of parents has collected monetary donations and created a festive breakfast for teachers and celebrated the teachers all week long.

“As Johnson Creek educators, their efforts deserve to be celebrated every day and especially during this week”, stated Marketing Coordinator Tammi Vetrano.

Badger Bank joined the surprise giving 60 bags of goodies to teachers in the district. “We honor our local educators with a token of our appreciation”, said President of Badger Bank, Dave Keleher. A great teacher can have huge impact of their students futures. Thank you for all you do and Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Week!

Renee Ramirez

First Business Bank is pleased to welcome Renee Ramirez to First Business Bank’s southeast Wisconsin advisory board.

“We’re very excited to have Renee on our advisory board,” said Kevin Kane, president of First Business Bank’s southeast Wisconsin market. “Under her leadership as CEO and founder of Community Smiles Dental, the organization has achieved amazing results providing access to quality dental care for those in our community who need it most.”

Renee Ramirez is the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Community Smiles Dental, formerly Waukesha County Community Dental Clinic. In August 2018, she opened a second clinic in Menomonee Falls. Both locations provide affordable dental care for low-income families, high-risk expectant mothers, and low-income children. Since 2008, the clinic has provided more than $23 million in dental care to more than 21,000 patients. Community Smiles Dental was named Waukesha County Executive’s Large Nonprofit of the Year in 2015 and has been national recognized by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentist Foundation as a “gold star” dental program for children.

Ramirez graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in international relations and economics. She has thirty years of experience in nonprofit management and is recognized for her leadership in Wisconsin as a mentor for women, as an advocate for oral health equity, as well as for her expertise and success in fundraising.

Amanda Berg

Additionally, First Business Bank is pleased to welcome Amanda Berg to the Bank’s greater Dane County advisory board.

“Amanda is a great addition to our advisory board,” said Jim Hartlieb, president of First Business Bank. “She’s an experienced leader who brings positivity and deep connections within Dane County. We’re very glad to have her perspectives and contributions.”

Amanda Berg is vice president for Financial Affairs and chief financial officer at Edgewood College.

Prior to joining Edgewood College, Berg was executive vice president and chief financial officer with Slipstream, overseeing finance and program delivery operations as well as spending time overseeing human resources, legal/contracts, facilities, and the vehicle fleet. Previously, Berg accumulated more than 15 years of financial and accounting experience at various organizations throughout the Madison area. Most recently, she served as financial controller, project manager, and human resources manager at ZD Studios, Inc., an environmental graphic design firm specializing in transforming and inspiring environments and brands. Berg also previously held auditing, accounting, and finance positions at Famous Footwear, Fiskars Brands, Inc., and Grant Thornton, LLP.

Berg earned a bachelor of business administration degree and a master of accountancy degree from UW-Madison. She is a lifetime member of the National W Club, a council member of the UW-Madison Athletic Department’s Equity Diversity Council, treasurer of Out Professional Engagement Network (OPEN), and enjoys occasionally serving as an announcer and scoreboard operator for athletic events at UW-Madison.

Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) Secretary-designee Cheryll Olson-Collins, a native of Portage, Wis., spent more than two decades in the private sector banking industry before joining the State of Wisconsin in 2007. She began her banking career with the First National Bank of Portage. She later joined Associated Bank and over a period of 20 years served in a variety of leadership positions, including ten years as the community bank’s president in charge of 14 branches.

In 2007, Olson-Collins began her service to the State of Wisconsin as the Administrator of the DFI’s Division of Corporate and Consumer Services. In 2011, she became the Administrator of the DFI’s Division of Administrative Services and Technology, a position she held for more than three years. In May 2015, she became the Deputy Administrator of the DFI’s Division of Banking and was later appointed to be the Administrator of the DFI’s Division of Banking in May 2016. Olson-Collins most recently served as the DFI’s Deputy Secretary from January 2019 until being appointed by Governor Tony Evers to serve as the Secretary of the DFI in January 2022. Olson-Collins earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Banking. She has been active in a variety of civic organizations.

The following is an interview with Secretary-designee Olson-Collins.

What put you on the path to your profession in the banking industry?

After college, I started working at the First National Bank of Portage. I thought I would just work there for a few years, but to my surprise, I fell in love with banking! I worked my way up from the accounting department to being the vice president of operations. When Associated Bank acquired First National Bank of Portage, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Luckily, it created a fantastic opportunity for me to become a community bank president, which ultimately led me to where I am today!

What has been the most meaningful aspect of your career thus far?

I have had the privilege to help many people in my career: families, businesses, communities, and mentoring individuals career-wise. I believe to be an effective leader you need to truly care about people. That may sound corny, but it’s true. If you don’t care about the people you work with and the people you serve, it becomes very apparent and will be difficult to gain trust or get things done.

What/who inspires you and motivates your work?

I enjoy working. I feel accomplishment and tremendous satisfaction by doing a good job. My father was a tremendous influence on my work ethic. He was always planning ahead, which certainly helps when you are trying to do strategic planning, all the while working diligently. He was such a role model and his actions and encouragement made me believe I could do anything if I put my mind to it.

How would you describe your vision for the future of DFI?

My vision is for the DFI to remain a strong, effective agency that continues to evolve and protect the safety and soundness of Wisconsin’s financial institutions, safeguard the investing public, facilitate commerce, and increase financial capability throughout the state. We have a dedicated staff who work hard to carry out our mission and connect the dots between state agencies to serve the people of Wisconsin because we are stronger when all state agencies work together. My vision is for the agency to continue to work in this manner for many years to come.

What opportunities and challenges do you foresee in the coming years, and how should bankers prepare for them?

During my career, I have seen exponential change in banking – and it certainly seems the pace is faster than ever. We have seen banks interest in crypto-asset-related activities increase, including interest to engage in crypto safe-keeping and custody services, facilitation of customer purchases and sales of cryptocurrency, and loans collateralized by crypto-assets.

This emerging sector presents potential opportunities and risks to banking organizations, their customers, and the overall financial system. Banks looking to get into this sector should ensure that any activities promote safety and soundness, consumer protection, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including anti-money laundering rules.

Along those lines, banks are increasingly dependent on IT to deliver services every day, so cybersecurity continues to be an ongoing concern. Disruption, degradation, or unauthorized alteration of bank data through cyber-attacks, including ransomware, can affect operations and core processes. Banks must continue to be diligent and ensure they are protecting customer information and maintaining a solid, tested IT program.

These topics are not new to bankers. I know our Wisconsin bankers are very perceptive and are working diligently to address these opportunities and risks head on and will continue to do so in the years to come.

Is there anything else you would like Wisconsin bankers to know about you or your work?

During my time at the DFI, I have had the privilege of working with and getting to know our incredible bankers. I have seen firsthand how our banks stepped up to help customers in their communities — and not just during a pandemic — every day. I have the utmost respect for the hard work being done in this ever-changing environment. Although the past two years were filled with uncertainties, the health of Wisconsin’s financial industry remains strong thanks, in large part, to the efforts of our Wisconsin banks. Their leadership in a time of uncertainty, their commitment to our communities, and the assistance they provided to individuals and small businesses truly made all the difference. On behalf of Governor Evers and myself, I want to thank our Wisconsin banks and bankers for all they do to serve the people of Wisconsin. Keep up the great work!

In April, Associated Bank welcomed Joy Langreder as director of talent acquisition and development and promoted Callie Davis to director of DE&I.

Joy Langreder

Joy Langreder has joined Associated Bank as senior vice president & director of talent acquisition and development, human resources. She is responsible for planning and implementing strategies, programs, and tools needed for success in talent management.

Langreder brings more than 25 years of human resources and talent management experience to Associated Bank. Previously, she held the position of HR director – talent acquisition at Schneider National, Inc., where she was responsible for creating talent acquisition strategy, building the talent acquisition team, and implementing new technology to support hiring for office, mechanic and warehouse positions. Prior, she held leadership roles at Schneider National, Inc. including HR director, preceded by HR business partner.

Langreder holds an MBA from UW – Oshkosh and a bachelor of business administration degree with a double major in business and French from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. In the community, Langreder previously served on the Women’s Fund of Greater Green Bay Power of the Purse Planning Committee, in addition to volunteer roles with Habitat for Humanity, the Service League of Green Bay, and the NEW Community Shelter. Additionally, Langreder co-founded Schneider Women’s Network, Schneider’s first employee resource group, providing rich career development opportunities and networking, for over a decade.

Callie Davis

Associated Bank has also announced the promotion of Callie Davis to the role of senior vice president, director of diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I), human resources. She is responsible for developing and executing on strategic initiatives, programs, and processes in support of the bank’s commitment to DE&I.

Davis has been a member of the Associated Bank team since 2016 when she started as a participant in the corporate trainee program and has since held various roles in both talent acquisition and DE&I. During her tenure, her accomplishments have included strategic management of seven colleague resource groups (CRG) along with the creation of the bank’s Black CRG, creating and leading a talent acquisition CRG ally program, creation of courageous conversations colleague dialog sessions, the implementation of DE&I line of business champions and developing awareness and tools for hiring, developing and retaining underrepresented talent including, women, people of color, LGBTQ+, veterans, and individuals with disabilities at all levels of the organization.

Davis holds a bachelor of business administration degree in finance, with a minor in social justice from UW–Oshkosh. In the community, she is an active member of the program committee for the Wisconsin chapter of Disability:IN.

Badger Bank employees celebrate Administrative Professionals Day by surprising coworker Annie Pitzner.

April 27 was Administrative Professionals Day. Badger Bank celebrated Annie Pitzner as their administrative professional. When you first walk into the Fort Atkinson location, the first person you will see is Pitzner. She will greet you with a good morning or good afternoon with a smile every time. Pitzner handles 90% of the calls that come in. She treats every customer with the best customer service possible. Pitzner handles more than just regular admin duties. If asked to go above and beyond to help out, she is always willing. Pitzner has been with Badger Bank since July of 2021. Pitzner loves her job and takes every aspect of it seriously, but with a fun edge.

“Annie has been a valuable member of the Badger Bank family”, said Steve Dehnert, CEO of Badger Bank. “She always has a cheerful attitude every day and is so pleasant. From working with customers and making sure our staff needs are met, Annie goes above and beyond.”

The staff at the Fort Atkinson location “rallied” together with the direction of Marketing Coordinator Tammi Vetrano to ultimately surprise Pitzner with all sorts of gifts from a floral arrangement, gift cards, Pitzner’s favorite snacks, relaxation items, and so much more. Pitzner deserved to be recognized for all her hard work and dedication to Badger Bank.

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Bankers’ Bank, a leading correspondent bank for community banks located in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, has announced the promotions of six team members.

David Gremillion – Bankers’ Bank recently promoted David Gremillion to first vice president – bankcards. Gremillion joined Bankers’ Bank in 2018 as the department’s operations manager. Since joining the Bankers’ Bank team, Gremillion has expanded his role within the bankcards department and has been instrumental in growing the department over the last two years. Under Gremillion’s leadership, the team has executed various strategic initiatives highlighted by the recent launch of Bankers Bank’s new prepaid card program, Community Prepaid.

Joe Hauser – Bankers’ Bank is pleased to announce the promotion of Joe Hauser to senior vice president – director of internal audit. Hauser joined Bankers’ Bank in 2017 as an internal auditor. In 2020, he was promoted to director of internal audit. Over the last two years, Hauser as done an excellent job in working with both the Bank’s internal team and board of directors. He plays a vital role in the adoption of FDICIA at Bankers’ Bank.

Kevin Means – Kevin Means was recently promoted to senior vice president at Bankers’ Bank. Means joined the Bankers’ Bank team in 2013 as part of the bank’s commercial lending department supporting the Wisconsin market. Means has leveraged his substantial product knowledge and customer service to expand the Bank’s Wisconsin market presence and build relationships with community banks. In addition to his market responsibilities, Means has participated as subject matter expert in system conversions, other process improvement projects, and has led the United Way Campaign at Bankers’ Bank.

Paul Watson – Paul Watson has been promoted to first vice president at Bankers’ Bank. Watson started at Bankers’ Bank in 2020 in the commercial banking department for our Indiana market. He has served the Central Indiana banking market for over 32 years. Watson has leveraged his strong commercial lending experience and prior working relationships with central Indiana bankers to expand the Bank’s Indiana market presence and better serve community banks with their commercial lending needs.

Rian Uelmen – Bankers’ Bank announces the promotion of Rian Uelmen to senior vice president – director of human resources. Uelmen joined Bankers’ Bank in 2020 as director of human resources. She has done an outstanding job in exceeding the Bank’s expectations during a unique environment due to the pandemic. Prior to joining Bankers’ Bank, Uelmen was with Entegral-Enterprise Holdings in human resources – talent acquisition & talent development.

Scott Platto – Scott Platto has been promoted to first vice president & controller at Bankers’ Bank. Platto has been instrumental over the last three years in modernizing the bank’s accounting department. He has implemented new online tools to streamline the reconciliation processes, incorporated additional review procedures for journal entries, and greatly improved the Bank’s accounting processes overall. Platto has also taken a leadership role in preparing the Bank for FDICIA in coordination with our internal audit team.

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UnitedHealthcare provides WBA-member banks cost-effective benefit packages

By Daryll J. Lund

Now’s the time to start thinking about your employee benefits package and how an Associated Health Plan (AHP), serviced by UnitedHealthcare, could help you save. Gain similar purchasing power advantages and options that larger employers receive when you join other Wisconsin banks by enrolling in our AHP.

Through your enrollment in an AHP, your bargaining position is strengthened to help you obtain more favorable rates. A variety of flexible plan options are available to help balance costs and your administrative costs can be reduced through economies of scale.

And your employees will benefit too. They’ll have access to UnitedHealthcare’s provider network — the largest in Wisconsin — resulting in less disruption and a smoother transition. Wellness programs designed to motivate healthier habits and cost estimator tools to assist with making more informed care choices will help your employees with their overall health and budgetary goals.

The advantages don’t stop there. If you’re looking to add vision to your employee benefits package, UnitedHealthcare has you covered. Like their medical network, UnitedHealthcare has one of the nation’s largest vision networks. That means your employees will have the freedom to visit their favorite provider or retailer for vision services and eyewear needs. Alliances with Warby Parker® and GlassesUSA.com are included.

Learn how much you may save by contacting Brian Siegenthaler from Wisconsin Bankers Association – Employee Benefits Corporation at bsiegenthaler@wisbank.com or 608-441-1211.