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Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

As students around the state head back to school, the importance of ensuring every individual has access to high quality financial education and resources to improve their financial literacy continues to ring true. The Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) has served since 2015 as the hub for Wisconsin bankers when looking to provide resources, including Reading Raises Interest Kits each spring, to communities across Wisconsin.

As the Foundation continues to grow, we are happy to provide small grants to Wisconsin nonprofit organizations that align with our mission of improving the financial capability of our communities.

WBF recently awarded a second $5,000 grant to Asset Builders, a Wisconsin nonprofit organization, in support of its Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl, a quiz bowl competition geared towards high school students on subjects such as personal finance, economics, business, and marketing. The program aligns with Wisconsin’s statewide learning standards and is an effective strategy to complement what students are learning in the classroom.

The Challenge Bowl serves as an exciting and interactive supplement that educators across the state year after year sign up and accompany students to participate in. As students work in small groups to prove their mastery of finance-related knowledge against their peers, they also have a unique opportunity to interact with local banking and financial services professionals, who serve as quizmasters and competition judges.

For the 2022–2023 school year, the Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl tournament now has 12 regional competitions — reaching students in every corner of the state — and concludes with the state championship in Madison in May. These in-person tournaments are lively and immersive for students and volunteers alike. As the Challenge Bowl continues to expand to reach more students, I highly encourage bankers to volunteer not only to keep this value-adding program as high quality as possible, but as an opportunity to connect the banking industry with hundreds of passionate students. This type of engagement demonstrates our industry’s involvement in these critical efforts to keep our community members financially savvy. If you or any member of your staff is interested in a fun and rewarding service experience, please contact Cassie Krause, WBF’s executive director, or me.

In addition to volunteering for one of the many Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl tournaments across Wisconsin, please also consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation. Contributions made to the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization support financial education in communities across our state. Thank you for your continued support of not only the Foundation, but of programs such as the Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl that offer engaging educational opportunities to Wisconsinites.

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The Graduate School of Banking at Colorado (GSBC) is proud to announce the graduation of Leah Motschenbacher of CCFBank in Eau Claire, Wis., from its state-of-the-art graduate school of banking program.

Graduates receive their GSBC diplomas upon successfully completing three annual two-week sessions of classroom training on the University of Colorado Boulder campus in Boulder, Colo. Motschenbacher was among 168 students honored in a ceremony on July 28, 2022.

GSBC’s curriculum is community banking-focused, delivered by expert faculty. All courses fall under one of four tracks: Financial Management & Strategy, Innovation & Engagement, Leadership & Culture or Lending.

The graduates also completed six immersive intersession research projects throughout their time in the program, including a strategic topic project which they tie directly to an issue or opportunity facing their organization.

The program’s capstone course is an in-depth bank management simulation, where students assume the roles of senior management of a commercial bank, involving themselves in the group dynamics and managerial skills of managing a bank in a competitive environment with changing economic conditions.

GSBC held its 71st Annual School Session July 17–29, 2022, on the University of Colorado Boulder campus, hosting nearly 500 students from across the nation.

Farmers & Merchants State Bank is excited to announce the promotion of Malinda Weisensel to vice president of IT & operations. Additionally, F&M has also announced the promotion of Jena Bleecker to include account specialist to her job title.

On August 23, 2022, Earl Charneske, senior vice president and Midwest regional manager of PCBB, passed away unexpectedly but surrounded by his family.

Loving husband of Suzette (Sue) Charneske; loving father of Earl W. Charneske III and Christina Cox. He is also survived by his six grandchildren.

Earl was a beloved member of the PCBB team and a member of the Wisconsin Bankers Association for many years. He dedicated his career to helping bankers solve their challenges.

Those that knew Earl, knew his love of life, his passion for everything he did, and his huge heart that he shared without reservation. He loved what he did, and he enjoyed being a friend and banker to many of you.

We will all miss Earl, but we also know that a piece of his spirit not only touched everyone he met, but that he will live on in each of us.

Earl’s obituary and tribute information can be viewed here:

Inquiries can be directed to Sonia Portwood, chief sales and marketing officer of PCBB at

Melissa Gramza

Waukesha State Bank has hired Melissa Gramza as controller.

“Melissa’s strong financial and accounting experience makes her uniquely qualified to build on our foundation of success, and we are proud to welcome her to the Waukesha State Bank team,” stated Ann Pascavis, Waukesha State Bank senior vice president – chief financial officer.

Gramza has eight years of financial experience and holds a bachelor of business administration degree in finance from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Most recently, she worked as a controller for Community State Bank in Union Grove, Wis. In her new role as controller for Waukesha State Bank, Gramza will be responsible for directing the staff and day-to-day operations of the finance department, which includes analyzing and reporting the bank’s financial information on a periodic basis.

Gramza is actively involved in the community coaching 5th–8th grade girls’ volleyball and basketball at St. Roman Parish in Milwaukee.

Tyler Kern

Additionally, Tyler Kern has been promoted to assistant vice president – investment officer.

“Tyler plays an essential role at Waukesha State Bank, and we are proud to recognize his talent,” stated Pascavis. “We look forward to his continuing contributions to the growth of Waukesha State Bank.”

Kern joined Waukesha State Bank in 2018 as a commercial banking credit analyst – portfolio manager. He holds a bachelor of business administration degree in finance, investment and banking, and risk management and insurance from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He was promoted to investment officer in December of 2021, and in his new role as assistant vice president – investment officer, Kern will continue to be responsible for managing the bank’s investment portfolio. In addition, he will continue to monitor and manage the bank’s liquidity and sensitivity to interest rate and market risk.

First Business Bank is pleased to announce the winning nonprofits and golfers who played for them in the annual First Business Bank Charity Golf Invitational – Milwaukee on Monday, August 22. The event has raised more than $600,000 for nonprofits in Madison and Milwaukee over the past 11 years.

Local business leaders compete in two-person teams in the First Business Bank Charity Golf Invitational on behalf of a local charity of their choice. First Business Bank covers 100% of the event costs. Winning golfers and charities from the two flights at the event hosted at Oconomowoc Golf Club include:

Handicap Flight Winners

  • First Place – $15,000 won on behalf of Blessings in a Backpack by Terry Schultz and Mike Budgins
  • Second Place – $9,000 won on behalf of Meta House by John Richter and Riley Yemm
  • Third Place – $4,500 won on behalf of United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County by Dale Van Dam and Walter Cain

Callaway Flight Winners

  • First Place – $3,000 won on behalf of Delavan-Darien School District Foundation by Scott Robb and Mike Mack
  • Second Place – $1,500 won on behalf of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee by Matt Krutza and Greg Block

First-place award winners in the handicap flight, Blessings in a Backpack of Waukesha County was founded in 2012 to help bridge the gap by filling students’ backpacks with food for the weekend. The organization serves more than 3,600 children at 36 schools throughout Waukesha County.

“We chose Blessings in a Backpack because we’ve been affiliated with them for years and it’s a great cause,” said Terry Schultz, president of EFCO Finishing in Menomonee Falls, Wis. “You don’t realize that there are kids who go hungry over the weekend. It’s sad to think that’s still the case in 2022, but that’s why we got involved.”

Lisa Hayes, CPA, treasurer of Blessings in a Backpack, said the organization can feed 115 students with the $15,000 first-place prize from the First Business Bank Charity Golf Invitational – Milwaukee.

“It costs about $130 a year to feed one student,” Hayes said. “These students usually are on federally free and reduced lunch programs, so they’re getting food at school during the week. Sometimes there’s food insecurity over the weekend, so it’s good to know these students have food over the weekend. Fridays we bring food to the schools and counselors discreetly put it in the students’ backpacks. The counselors appreciate it — they tell us it’s making an impact on the students’ lives.”

“The past few years I’ve had the pleasure of being part of this event, it’s inspirational to see the generosity and passion as our business leaders put a lot of effort into winning for their favorite nonprofits,” said Kevin Kane, president – southeast Wisconsin Market of First Business Bank. “The goodwill between our local business community and dedicated nonprofits is outstanding and I’m so glad First Business Bank can play a small part of bringing the two together for good.”

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Stuart Kuzik

Bluff View Bank is proud to announce the hiring of Stuart Kuzik as chief credit officer & commercial loan officer.

Kuzik will be responsible for overseeing the lending operations of bank, including its lenders and loan portfolio. He will also be involved in working with business owners and community members to help grow opportunities in the area. “Community banking gives me the opportunity to be a small part of many amazing businesses, community enhancing projects, and great local families’ lives.” Kuzik says.

Stuart comes to Bluff View with experience in underwriting, commercial lending, portfolio performance management, business development, and real estate investments. He has previously held positions at JPMorgan Chase, M&I Bank/BMO Harris Bank, TruStone Financial Federal Credit Union, as well as the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA).

As an experienced banker, he is committed to supporting his client’s growth and financial needs by providing customized business banking solutions and personalized experience. He will be servicing clients in La Crosse, Trempealeau, and surrounding counties.

Kuzik is a former presenter at the annual Wisconsin Lenders Conference, has served as a DECA State Conference Judge, and has participated extensively with the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC). He has also previously been a mayoral appointed member of two different cities’ finance committees.

Associated Bank has announced new hires to its asset-based lending team.

The asset-based lending team, under the leadership of Ray Temple who joined Associated Bank in September 2021, welcomes Keith Contole, John Todd, Jim Vargo, and Mike Williams, who bring over 100 years of industry experience.

The new relationship managers will be responsible for originating and structuring asset-based loans for clients through flexible financing solutions that meet their evolving goals and market conditions, including revolving lines of credit and term loans secured by accounts receivables, inventory or real estate, allowing clients to access working capital.

Keith Contole has joined Associated Bank as a senior vice president & relationship manager of asset-based lending, corporate banking. He is responsible for portfolio management & underwriting.

Contole brings more than 25 years of commercial and ABL banking experience to Associated Bank and has an extensive background in portfolio, underwriting, and operations management. Previously, he held the position of senior vice president – senior account manager for Huntington Bank (via acquisition of Chemical Bank / TCF Bank) in Chicago.

Contole holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting & finance from Purdue University and is actively involved in community volunteer activities.

John Todd has joined Associated Bank as senior vice president & business development officer of asset-based lending, corporate banking. He is responsible for building and sourcing new client relationships in Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan.

Todd brings more than 25 years of banking experience to Associated Bank and has an extensive background in business development, underwriting and relationship management. Previously, he held the position managing director – Midwest region at SG Credit Partners, a Private Credit Fund.

Todd holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Michigan State University. Todd has been active in the Secured Financing Network and Turnaround Management Association over many years.

Pictured left to right are: Keith Contole, John Todd, Jim Vargo, and Mike Williams

Jim Vargo has joined Associated Bank as senior vice president & business development officer of asset-based lending, corporate banking. He is responsible for generating new business as a customer champion and advocate in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

Vargo brings more than 30 years of banking experience to Associated Bank and has an extensive background in business development in both asset based and commercial banking as well as accounting and finance as a prior chief financial officer.

Vargo holds a masters and bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting from Northern Illinois University. He holds CPA, CGMA, and CTP designations. In the community, he was the past president of the Chicago TMA and SFNET organizations as well as being active with ACG and FEI. Vargo has also been active in various rehab projects, fund raising for Make a Wish and leadership roles with various youth organizations.

Mike Williams has joined Associated Bank as senior vice president & business development officer of asset-based lending, corporate banking. He is responsible for business development in Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, and Texas.

Williams brings more than 25 years of banking experience to Associated Bank. Previously, he held the position of managing director – Midwest region for CIBC in Chicago.

Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Northern Illinois University. He also holds a CPA designation. In the community, he volunteers with his children’s activities.

By Jeff Wilke, Bank First

The 2022 inflationary pressures on a milk producer’s costs to produce milk have made the need to manage milk price risk/volatility that much more important. Two relatively economical and user-friendly milk price risk management tools available to dairy producers are the USDA’s Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) and Dairy Revenue Protection (DRP) programs.

DMC provides dairy operations with risk management coverage that will pay producers when the difference (the margin) between the national price of milk and the average cost of feed falls below a certain level selected by the program participants. The only cost for $4.00 margin “catastrophic” coverage is a $100 administrative fee. For coverage from the $4.00 margin to $9.50 margin levels (in $.50 increments), there is also a premium payment of only $.0025 to $.15 per hundredweight of milk, respectively, on up to 95% of a producer’s recent average of historical milk production (up to a maximum of five million pounds of milk at those premium costs). Coverage for milk production over five million pounds of milk is available at the $4.50 margin to $9.50 margin levels (in $.50 increments), with premiums from $.0025 to $1.813, respectively. Sign up for the program is through the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

DRP is designed to insure against unexpected declines in the quarterly revenue from milk sales relative to a guaranteed coverage level (“price protection”). The expected revenue is based on futures prices for milk and dairy commodities, and the amount of covered milk production elected by the dairy producer.

DRP offers two revenue pricing options: The Class Pricing Option, which uses a combination of Class III (milk primarily used for cheese production) and Class IV (milk primarily used for butter and non-fat dry milk production) milk prices as a basis for determining coverage and indemnities. The Component Pricing Option, which uses the component milk prices for butterfat, protein and other solids as a basis for determining coverage and indemnities. Under this option the producer may select the butterfat test percentage and protein test percentage to establish their insured milk price.

Through DRP, 80-95% of expected quarterly milk revenue may be covered (in 5% increments). A premium subsidy of 44-55% is provided through the program, depending on the coverage level selected. DRP insurance is available through authorized crop insurance agents.

For more information on the DMC and DRP programs, visit

Jeff Wilke is vice president-business and ag banker with Bank First in Denmark. Wilke currently serves on the WBA Ag Section Board of Directors.