Join emerging bank leaders on November 9 in Wisconsin Dells

Emerging leaders are encouraged to join their banking peers from across the state at WBA’s annual BOLT Winter Leadership Summit in November. Are you interested in taking the next step in your career development or looking to network with other emerging leaders in banking, or know someone who might be? Joining BOLT, or Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow, is the perfect opportunity to gain valuable education and connections that will last a lifetime!

This year’s winter summit will begin November 8 with an optional, pre-summit networking event. Light refreshments will be provided.

The summit will officially kick off the following morning, November 9, with breakfast and an opening keynote session on the power of effective communication. Denise Thomas, founder and owner of Milwaukee-based The Effective Communication Coach, will lead attendees through her “effective communication formula.” Gain techniques that will allow leaders to better connect with others, and leave the conference with practices to put into action. In addition, every emerging leader will receive a digital copy of Thomas’ book, The Effective Communication Coach Guidebook.

The daylong event will feature two additional general sessions, a peer group discussion on topics of effective leadership, and various opportunities for bankers to connect with peers from throughout Wisconsin.

Bankers of all levels — entry-level to c-suite — find that attending one of BOLT’s biannual summits is an excellent opportunity not only for bankers to round out their skills in community banking, including becoming an advocate for our industry and gaining the support of their peers, but is a critical process in preparing the bank’s next leaders when succession planning.

Interested in attending the BOLT Winter Summit? Visit or contact WBA’s Director – Education Lori Kalscheuer to learn more.

By Daryll J. Lund

With the Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow (BOLT) Winter Leadership Summit just days away on November 4, it’s a good time to share more about what WBA’s BOLT section has to offer. We now have 507 BOLT members from 137 banks out of 210 WBA-member banks. That works out to about 65% of the member banks having at least one BOLT member. There is no cost to the bank to join — in fact, many banks have multiple individuals from their organization as BOLT members. The section is popular in part because of the access to the biannual Leadership Summits, and because of the year-round connections and opportunities it provides.

As existing bank leaders approach retirement, BOLT can provide the networking and leadership skills to prepare your next leaders faster. Succession planning is key to the long-term success of any bank. Through BOLT, bankers are exposed to education that touches on every role in community banking and helps them to round out their skills. After events, attendees often speak of the spark that was ignited in them. They bring back new ideas and renewed motivation to their banks.

Networking opportunities are another big draw of the BOLT section. The ability to connect with peers and converse about important topics provides value that can’t be found in call reports. Being a part of the BOLT community is a unique benchmarking opportunity that enables bankers to better understand the market and where their peers are. Members are also able to support each other through shared successes and challenges.

Becoming a strong advocate is an important attribute for bank leaders, both in their communities and in their civic engagement. The BOLT section is integral in planning and promoting WBA’s annual Power of Community Week, during which all members are encouraged to engage in community service activities. BOLT members can also participate in the annual WBA Capitol Day and Washington Summits, which include training and materials to develop effective advocacy skills.

With all that BOLT members bring back to their banks, it’s easy to make the case for participation. Also, in today’s tight labor market, it is essential that banks invest in their people. Feeling valued and having a bright career path are key factors in employees’ decisions to join or stay with an employer. BOLT is a WBA program that stands ready to partner with our members on helping banks to develop their most important asset — their people.

Join us on Thursday, November 4 in Stevens Point for the WBA BOLT Winter Leadership Summit! BOLT (Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow) is a great opportunity for current and emerging leaders to come together and learn from both peers and industry experts. The summit connects community bankers from around Wisconsin for one day full of education and networking. All WBA member banks are encouraged to identify their emerging leaders and register them to participate in WBA BOLT events as an investment in their future with your bank.

BOLT provides an environment where energized and motivated WBA-member bankers have an opportunity for peer networking, educational growth, and leadership development, helping to expand their leadership roles. Community bank leaders will interact with and learn from each other and discuss current industry challenges. Knowing how to respond quickly to changes in the industry is key for leaders when many of these issues are complex and here to stay.

Always rated highly by attendees, this winter summit will once again host small peer group discussions based on various roles and areas of interest within banking, allowing for bankers to share their experiences, ask questions, learn from others, and make lifelong banking connections. The summit will also feature interactive keynote sessions led by national speakers.

Look for more information about the other keynotes and breakout sessions at

WBA hosts BOLT summits twice a year, so watch for the next Summer Leadership Summit! This past June, over 115 current and future leaders of Wisconsin’s banking industry gathered for networking and education with sessions on building economic inclusion in our state, taking your career to the next level, thriving in challenging times, and re-engaging your team after and during a pandemic.

The Winter Leadership Summit is only one day out of the office with the low registration fee of $100 per attendee for your emerging leaders to make connections and grow their professional skills! Hotel accommodations with special BOLT rates are also available for attendees.

Visit to register your emerging leaders today.

Penelope Childers


BOLT (Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow)

The WBA BOLT Board of Directors has been working diligently to obtain a goal of getting 100% of the WBA member banks to have at least one bank employee be a member of BOLT. 

Why do we find that such an important goal? 
BOLT is about leadership, education, networking, personal growth and advocacy within the banking industry. BOLT has two statewide summits a year; a one-day winter summit and a day and a half summer summit. Both events are a great opportunity to network with fellow community banking peers and share experiences in a non-competitive environment. BOLT members get to expand their leadership roles and learn to identify other emerging leaders with potential for growth.

A couple of commonly asked questions by fellow bankers are:

  • Is there a fee to become a BOLT member? No, it’s free! Take advantage of the free membership. By becoming a member, a banker is added to our membership list to receive updated information on upcoming events, articles from your fellow BOLT bankers, and more!
  • What are the commitments? Two summits a year are available at a very reasonable cost for those who can attend, but attendance is not required. We understand there will be times you can’t get away from the office, or you might have other personal commitments. However, once you’ve attended one summit, you won’t want to miss the next! 
  • Am I too old to be a BOLT member? Absolutely Not! BOLT members are bankers of all ages who have many different years of banking experience.  Anyone interested in professional and personal growth, along with networking, advocacy and education, would be a great candidate for BOLT.  
  • "I'm already a leader, so BOLT must not be for me." Wrong! BOLT is for current and emerging leaders. Bankers who are already in leadership positions will get something out of BOLT, we promise! Fine-tune your skills, make industry connections, bring your colleagues with so you can bring new ideas for leadership back to your bank, and learn from other community bankers – whether they are new to leading or as experienced as you!

BOLT Summits give employers a chance to develop and retain talented bank employees who are new and upcoming leaders or for those experienced leaders, who still have room to move up the ranks within their organizations.

Out of all the events I attend each year, the BOLT summits are by far my favorite. I enjoy networking with peers and discussing challenges along with opportunities within the banking industry. I like to make connections to be able to reach out to other bankers when introducing new products or software at my bank. I am passionate about education and leadership development. I come from a banking environment where employees are encouraged to learn and prepare for future advancement. BOLT is a great venue for this.

Join BOLT now!

I hope to see you at our next summit, November 7 in Stevens Point. If you haven't experienced a BOLT Summit yet, please register to come and see what it is all about. I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. For those returning bankers, see you there! 

Penelope (PJ) Childers serves as vice president of business banking at Tomahawk Community Bank and also serves on the WBA BOLT Board of Directors.

By, Lori Kalscheuer


Join WBA and your fellow emerging leader banker peers from across Wisconsin for our annual BOLT Winter Leadership Summit! The summit will kick off on Wednesday, November 9 at 9:00 a.m. and adjourn at 3:00 p.m.

Interested in some extra networking time? Make plans to arrive on Tuesday, November 8 and join the optional pre-summit networking event!

Interested in developing your leadership skills? Looking to build and grow in your career in banking? Then BOLT is for you!

Click Register to visit the event website for the full summit details and to register online!

Confirmed Sessions Include:

  • Great Leaders Are Great Communicators – Denise Thomas, The Effective Communication Coach
  • A look at the future of banking and what every current and future bank leader should know
  • Peer group discussions to learn from your peers and make new connections
  • Leading with Emotional Intelligence – Emily Smit, The Perk

What is BOLT? BOLT stands for Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow and represents the emerging leaders section of membership within WBA. Membership in the BOLT Section is complimentary for all WBA members. Each member bank is encouraged to identify their emerging leaders and have them participate in BOLT as a part of their career development within the bank.

Who typically attends a BOLT Summit? The BOLT Summits bring together a wide variety of bankers in various roles and experience levels from all across Wisconsin. From entry-level roles to c-level staff, BOLT brings together 100+ Wisconsin community bankers in an energized environment focused on educating our current and future bank leaders, building networks and lifelong connections, and advocating for community banking.

Registration Information

Bank Member Registration: The registration fee of $150/attendee includes networking meals and breaks, general sessions, and access the summit mobile app.

Associate Member Registration: Associate Members are encouraged to send their emerging leaders as well! The same registration fee is available to WBA Associate Members. Interested in upgrading your presence? Register to be a summit sponsor to receive additional benefits and summit recognition!