2023 Leaders in Banking Excellence
The 2023 Leaders in Banking Excellence honors current and former banking leaders who have helped shape their bank and/or our state’s banking industry. The plaques honoring these bankers can be viewed in the WBA headquarters building in Madison on the Wall of Excellence.
The Wall of Excellence is prominently featured in WBA’s Engagement Center, where thousands of bankers will view them each year as they attend the variety of meetings and training programs hosted there. The information on each honoree’s plaque gives today’s bankers a glimpse of those who have helped make our industry what it is today.
On Friday, August 25, 2023, a ceremony was held to honor the Class of 2023 as well as Class of 2022 Honoree Debra Lins, who was unable to attend the Class of 2022 celebration.
Michael Bock graduated from college with an accounting degree and began his career in public accounting. After eight years spending significant time in the bank audit, exam, and tax area learning about the banking industry, an opportunity presented itself with Dairy State Bank. That opportunity turned into over 34 years with the bank.
Mike was the first Wisconsin banker to sit on the Advisory Committee on Community Banking of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), where he provided advice and guidance on a broad range of important policy issues impacting community banks and rural communities. Throughout his tenure, Mike demonstrated exemplary leadership of Dairy State Bank and was dedicated to keeping the bank safe and sound, even during difficult times. Under Mike’s leadership, the bank grew to be one of the largest locally owned community banks in Northwest Wisconsin with over $700 million in assets.
For Mike, the most rewarding part of working in banking is interacting with people and helping them meet their financial goals. As a bank leader, he fostered an environment of growth and development for bank employees, so that they in turn could best serve their customers and community. From lending money to startup businesses that grew to become major employers, to guiding the bank through hundreds of Paycheck Protection Program loans during the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting community projects, Mike has left a lasting impression on Wisconsin’s banking industry.
“You can’t change the world, but you can change the world around you.” These were the words by which John Kujawa, president emeritus of Farmers & Merchants Bank in Berlin, lived.
After returning from serving his country in the army for two years, John began working at the bank his father had founded 21 years prior. It meant a great deal to John to work side by side with his father and later continue the family tradition with three of his children and eventually some of this grandchildren. Farmers & Merchants Bank was designed to be a place where farmers felt comfortable coming in straight from the fields to do their banking business, and the welcoming family environment extended to the bank’s customers, employees, and community.
In his more than 60-year time at the bank, John never missed an opportunity to support, encourage, and “scholarship” the people of his community. Whether that was assisting with the education and athletics of young people in school, donating to local and national charitable organizations and events, or helping someone fulfill their dream, John was always there to lend a hand and provide support. Farmers, teachers, business owners, doctors, and many more got their start because John believed in them. John’s leadership in his profession and his philanthropy served as an inspiration, and his impact will reverberate for generations to come.