BankBeat Parent Announces Changes to Editorial Leadership Team

NFR Communications, publisher of BankBeat and BankNews magazines and BankBeat.biz, has promoted Mara Gawarecki to the position of Editor-in-Chief of its print publications. Most recently managing editor-digital, Gawarecki takes on the new role from Jacqueline Nasseff Hilgert, who is transitioning to retirement. Additionally, Sam Wilmes, associate editor, will transition to managing editor-digital for BankBeat.biz and BankNews.com. These changes become effective September 1, 2022.

A nine-year veteran of the company, Gawarecki has held numerous roles of increasing responsibility with Twin Cities-based NFR Communications. As head of digital products, she oversaw content development on BankBeat.biz, delivering news and insights to community bankers throughout the central United States. She also managed sponsored webinars and published the company’s owned and contracted electronic newsletters. She has also contributed editorially to BankBeat and BankNews magazines.

Gawarecki has a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts from Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., and a master of arts degree in English from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn. She was named a 2022 “25 Under 35” honoree by Editor & Publisher magazine.

“Mara has the experience, industry knowledge, and love for language that positions her to succeed as editor-in-chief,” said Tom Bengtson, publisher. “Mara knows our readers and will go the extra mile to give them articles and essays that are timely, relevant, and thought-provoking.”

Wilmes will replace Gawarecki in the role of managing editor-digital. Currently associate editor, Wilmes joined NFR Communications in mid-2021 to write for its print and digital platforms. Previously a reporter for the Northfield News and other community newspapers in Minnesota and South Dakota, he brings an extensive journalism background to his new role. Wilmes has a bachelor of arts degree in mass media from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

“Sam has the reporting skills to serve our digital audiences well,” Bengtson said. “He is willing to pick up the phone, ask the right questions or find appropriate sources for a wide variety of stories he deals with everyday. His solid reporting background brings tremendous credibility to our digital efforts.”

Nasseff Hilgert joined NFR Communications in 1996 and has served in numerous roles. She’s been Editor-in-Chief and Chief operating Officer since January 2018. She oversaw the transformation of the century-old magazine to BankBeat, from NorthWestern Financial Review, in September 2018. She was also instrumental in integrating Kansas City-based BankNews Media into NFR Communications in 2019.