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.

By Erika Pierce, J.D., The Millennial Boardroom

Erika Pierce will be presenting at our November 4 WBA BOLT Winter Leadership Summit in Stevens Point. Visit the registration site to learn more!

Soft skills are skills that you learn through experience, mindfulness, and reflection. They’re your good habits, personality traits, and understanding of workplace norms. These skills are important to have for any worker, especially to those in higher positions. Possessing these skills often denotes experience, confidence, and professionalism.

If you’re chasing a new job, a higher position, or career independence, you need to develop your understanding of certain soft skills. Here are just five important important soft skills that you need to grow your career:


Being able to communicate well in a professional setting is one of the most important stepping stones to a large network and successful career.

Your communication skills dictate how well you relate with others. Being a good communicator often leads to having great workplace relationships with your co-workers, a more healthy and efficient work environment, and being a better leader.

To be a good communicator, you have to hone specific communication skills. This includes public speaking, giving clear directions, and active listening. It’s also important to hone your nonverbal communication skills, like reading body language, tone of voice/writing, and other unspoken cues.


While you might think that the people who go furthest in their careers are the ones that put in 60-hour work weeks and almost never seem to rest, think again. For most people, this kind of work-life balance is unsustainable and can often lead to burnout. If you want to sustainably grow your career, you need to develop your sense of self-management.

I’ve learned that once you take charge of your own career, you’re in charge of your own work-life balance. You’re the one who decides how often you work, and consequently, how stressed you are.

Knowing when to take a break and step away from your work is a skill in itself. Setting aside time for yourself allows you to reap the benefits of your hard work, and helps remind you why you want to grow even further. This leads to a healthy work-life balance and a sustainably growing career.


Even if you aren’t a marketer, having marketing skills is important to career growth.

Knowing how to sell yourself is essential to getting hired, promoted, or even working independently. This means understanding what a company, position, or client needs and highlighting why you’re the perfect fit for the job.

Career Management

Sometimes, career growth doesn’t mean a promotion, but an opportunity elsewhere. Being able to recognize this is a skill in itself, but you should also have the drive and willingness to at least consider new career options.

I tell people that they should look at the market every now and then, even if they’re not looking for a new job, because it’s always changing. If you always know what the market is like, you might find an opening with a better salary, a more convenient location, or even at the company of your dreams.


There’s a lot of pressure involved in growing your career. Job interviews, chasing deadlines, and application processes are just some of the pressure situations you’ll be faced with in your career. But how much you grow your career depends on how much you can handle and thrive in the face of this pressure.

There’s a reason some of the biggest career success stories are stories of resilience. When you’re growing your career, you will be faced with challenges and tough times. But the truth is that you grow the most when you’re out of your comfort zone. Understanding this will help you grow your career to new heights.


These are just some of the soft skills that you should develop if you want to successfully grow your career. If you want to learn more, consider joining my membership community where we share all kinds of career tips and advice.

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.

Loni Meiborg, BOLT Section Chair, never imagined her career path to lead towards banking. Growing up in Chicago, Ill., Meiborg moved to Wisconsin on a whim and pursed a degree in graphic communications. Beginning as a production designer and quickly moving into the marketing field, her career path wandered through many industries such as hospitality, tourism, manufacturing, retail, and recreation.

In 2013, Meiborg joined the team at Fortifi Bank (previously The First National Bank of Berlin). This was their first investment into a marketing professional – realizing they needed help to define their community bank brand and develop a digital marketing strategy.

Since then, she has helped the bank rebrand, re-charter, rename, build a social media presence, develop a modern-day website featuring a content marketing blog, deploy digital strategies focused on ROI, and continues to evolve the Fortifi Bank brand through client and employee experience.

“My transition into banking would not have been as positive without the support of the BOLT community,” stated Meiborg. “Networking with peers, developing contacts and resources, and learning about bank operations through the WBA has led to my success thus far.”

Today, Meiborg holds the position SVP Organizational Development for the bank. She is charged with aligning the employee experience with the client experience to consistently deliver on their brand promise: Growin’ Wisconsin one person, one business, one relationship at a time.

“Banking has allowed me to explore many avenues of brand, culture, and experience all while supporting local businesses, the people, and the communities in Wisconsin—definitely a win-win,” Meiborg stated when asked how banking differed from other industries.

Meiborg currently resides in Green Lake with her husband and two boys, 14 and 16. She serves on her local school board, city economic development board, and is the Wisconsin representative for the American Banker’s Association Emerging Leaders Council.

Whether you’re new to banking or an old hand, the BOLT Section of WBA offers mentorship, guidance, and a peer group network that can help you achieve your career goals. Membership is free and the group hosts two summits each year that features leadership development topics, networking groups, and bank-specific educational opportunities. Can you think of someone that could benefit from these resources? Sign-up here.

Join WBA and your fellow emerging leader banker peers from across Wisconsin for our annual BOLT Winter Leadership Summit! The summit will kickoff on Thursday, November 4 at 9:00 a.m. and adjourn at 3:00 p.m.

By Rose Oswald Poels

As we begin a new fiscal year at WBA, there are many areas of focus that we continue to expand on and advocate for. From economic inclusivity to fraud prevention, this is bound to be another productive year of growth, change, and impact. But all this progress would not be possible if not for the leadership that is so prevalent in our industry.

The leaders at your banks are more than the presidents, CEOs, or members of the executive team. They are all the individuals who come into work with the intention of making a difference, whether it be through their customer service, their innovative approach, or their clear vision of success that goes far beyond their own development. Most notably, many of our future leaders in banking are still in the process of establishing themselves as such. Identifying your bank’s emerging leaders is a critical step to help take their leadership skills to the next level.

Starting on June 10, our Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow (BOLT) Summer Leadership Summit will bring together emerging leaders from banks across Wisconsin. BOLT is focused on education, advocacy, and networking for the next generation of bank leaders to provide career-defining skills. With updated guidelines set in place, we are excited to offer this event in a hybrid format with the option to attend in-person in the Wisconsin Dells or virtual.

Identifying your leadership is often the easy part. Those who are dedicated, perseverant, and knowledgeable – while not always open about their leadership capabilities – tend to stand apart. Engaging their curiosity and developing important skills is a separate task that BOLT addresses through educational growth, peer networking, and leadership development. If you or someone you know is interested in attending this year’s BOLT Summer Leadership Summit, please consider registering today.

A common trait among many established leaders is the desire to grow and develop in this way, and this has undoubtedly been the case for the Leaders in Banking Excellence Class of 2020. WBA is proud to honor this first class of current and former banking leaders on the Wall of Excellence, which is on display in the WBA headquarters building in Madison. From now through Aug. 10, 2021, the WBA is accepting nominations for the next class of the WBA Leaders in Banking Excellence. To nominate a banker to be recognized as a Leader in Banking Excellence for the Class of 2021 or to learn more about the applications, please contact me. You can also find more information here.

A new fiscal year calls for new solutions to the problems we face in the financial industry. The ongoing challenges of preventing elder fraud, supporting the agricultural community through ECORA, and opposing harmful tax increases in the budget are just a few of the many issues we are determined to resolve for the benefit of our communities. With the perspective of current leadership and the addition of a new generation of leaders, these ideas will not only develop and evolve, but flourish.

When I began as a part-time teller in college, I figured my banking career would start and end there. Flash forward 11 years and I’ve held multiple job within my current financial institution such as teller, marketing assistant, personal banker, and most recently, AVP Signature Banker. 

I love banking and helping customers find solutions they didn’t know they needed. Banking requires many skills—being able to listen and make connections as well as learning new and ever-changing systems, rules and regulations—it is not just numbers; it keeps you on your toes!

As much as I love working at my bank, I've always been the kind of person who strives to do more. Last spring, I was lucky enough to attend the WBA Women in Banking Conference with some of my co-workers. I left this conference feeling energized about my career and I immediately knew I wanted to become involved at a different level than I had been in the past. From there, I reached out to WBA’s Lori Kalscheuer. Lucky for me, it just so happened to be a great time to join the BOLT Board and represent the northern part of Wisconsin! 

So far, my engagement with BOLT has been a great learning experience and beneficial to not only me but also my bank. Collaborating with other people from across the state, learning from one another, and then bringing it all back to my institution to share with others are just a few rewarding takeaways from BOLT.  

BOLT is energizing, educational, and a great way to learn from your peers. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us at the BOLT Summer Leadership Summit! This day-and-a-half conference is sure to have a stacked agenda with thought-provoking ideas and practical information that you can take back to your bank. I hope to see you there! June 11-12 at the Kalahari in Wisconsin Dells. 

Kerstyn Hendricks is AVP-Signature Banker with National Bank of Commerce in Superior and serves on the WBA BOLT Section Board of Directors.


By, Lori Kalscheuer

BOLT. Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow. Since I’m already in a leadership role today, I’ve thought a lot about why I enjoy being a part of this group.  

We all know that we never stop learning & growing. Or at least we should never stop! Every one of us can always keep improving, and learn how to be better leaders, coworkers, mentors, and human beings. And what better way than in an environment with other bankers, who are also striving to improve or develop their own style of leadership? It’s exciting to meet people who have that self-improvement mentality and goal in common! It’s especially exciting when they’re in the same field – we can learn so much from each other! And if somewhere along the way, I can help someone else learn and grown from my experiences – that’s even better!  

Being a Human Resources leader, it’s imperative that I help our own employees grow into leaders. Introducing these employees to BOLT gives me a great way to help these future leaders meet others and develop their own networks, learn about new leadership techniques and concepts, and get to know them better and coach them here at our own workplace. If we can help develop our own employees into leadership roles, we’re just doing the right thing by everyone.  

BOLT works hard to keep attendance costs minimal, so it’s more attractive to everyone. We’re very aware of the demands at work, and how time spent away from our jobs can deter us all from attending events. However, it’s so important to try to maximize the benefits you’ll receive when attending a BOLT Summit or networking event – and all at the lowest cost possible. All the way around, BOLT is an attractive option for our Bankers!  

I hope to see you at the next BOLT Summit – June 11-12, 2020 at the Kalahari Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells! 

Debi Bartel is VP, human resources director at First State Bank in New London and serves on the WBA BOLT Board of Directors.

By, Lori Kalscheuer

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

Bankers work to raise awareness, education about the industry

Emerging from an eight-year recession during which many bank training programs were discontinued, the industry is now experiencing a need to recruit and train new bankers – some of whom will be the banking's future leaders. These young individuals begin their journey toward a career in banking by first learning about the diversity of the industry. If they decide banking is a good fit for them, they must then prepare academically for their chosen career. Wisconsin's banking industry is working to pave that career path and, ideally, guide more young talent into the challenging, dynamic field of commercial banking.

Discovering Diversity 

One of the primary barriers preventing young professionals from selecting a career in banking is their lack of understanding of the industry. Many students simply aren't aware of the diversity available within a banking career. Agricultural lending, information technology, human resources, retail banking, and trust banking all require different skill sets and appeal to different individuals. Scott Kopp, president/CEO of the Bank of Galesville and a member of the WBA Board of Directors, told a story of a young man who interned at the bank recently. "He didn't realize all the different functions that go on inside the bank," Kopp said. "He didn't have any idea about banking as a career." Through his work and by sitting in on various meetings, including board meetings and ALCO committee, Kopp says the internship opened the student's eyes to the wide variety of possibilities within a banking career. While the Bank of Galesville doesn't have a formal internship program, fostering students who express interest is a priority. "Interning at the bank gives students the opportunity to decide if this is what they want to do," said Kopp, pointing out that banking isn't the right career for everyone. "I think they'll know if this is the type of atmosphere they're looking for," he said. 

Bank interns can learn about the many different aspects of banking both through their daily duties and through exposure to other areas of the bank. Great Midwest Bank, S.S.B., Brookfield, developed a formal internship program in the summer of 2015 to fill a need during the peak season in their mortgage business. "While performing their daily duties, our interns obtain knowledge about real estate financing from different perspectives," said President/CEO Dennis Doyle, a member of the WBA Board of Directors. The interns also meet with members of the senior management team to learn more about the larger issues impacting community banks. After this in-depth introduction to banking, the next task for aspiring bankers is to prepare academically for their career.

Career Preparation

For the past several decades, many individuals who become bankers obtained a degree in finance, were hired at a commercial institution, and then worked their way up through the ranks, learning about the industry and the inner mechanics of banks while doing so. Unfortunately, many of today's bank employees tend to be "accidental bankers," a term former banker Kent Belasco learned of and uses to describe the phenomenon that these bankers didn't start their careers with the goal of becoming a banker – they just ended up in banking. Belasco is assistant professor of finance and director of the new Commercial Banking Program at Marquette University's College of Business, and he hopes to professionalize the banking discipline through this program. "One of my primary goals with this program is to professionalize this field through academic training, similar to other disciplines such as accounting and law," he said. The program, housed under the broader, well-ranked Finance Department at Marquette, allows students to focus specifically on commercial banking as part of their education. Just as a student studies law to become a lawyer, or accounting to become an accountant, a student with a commercial banking concentration will become a banker.

Students in the program will take nine core courses: three focused specifically on commercial banking and the remainder in finance. The first is a broad overview of the structure and basics of commercial banking; the second outlines and explains the key functions that occur within the bank, including retail and commercial sales management, IT, wealth management, administration support functions and operations; the third covers all aspects of risk management. Additionally, each student will complete two summer internships and two related electives. "By the time they graduate, they'll be well-positioned to enter a bank in a full-time position," Belasco said. "There are a lot of ancillary goals, but at the end of the day this program is about giving these students great careers and filling a talent and succession gap in the banking industry." 


In addition to professionalizing banking and readying students for a career in banking, Belasco says another primary goal for the new program is influencing students' opinion of banks through education. "When you educate students more on the risks and regulation that occurs in the industry, you can hopefully create an opportunity to stimulate productive thought and facilitate the changes that are needed in the industry, in addition to changing the perception of bankers," he explained. That same benefit applies even for those students and/or interns who choose not to continue on in banking. "At the very least we're exposing tomorrow's leaders to the world of community banking, a vital part of our economy," Doyle said. "Hopefully, the internship program gives them more insight into the industry and aids them in making an informed career decision." 

In addition to the benefit to the industry as a whole, banks that participate in internship programs or who actively engage with interested students also benefit in tangible ways. "We look at it as a way to fill a need the bank has and also one the student has," said Kopp. "It's a two-way street." The student gets to experience the life of a banker first-hand and the bank has an opportunity to gauge the skill level of a potentially productive long-term employee. "The bank benefits by having a productive employee for three months who is eager to contribute during our peak business season," said Doyle. "The program also gives us a glimpse of potential candidates for full-time employment following graduation." What is clear is the talent waiting to come off the bench and into banking. "Our interns have been bright and industrious individuals that were capable of quality work despite a small window of time," Doyle continued. "That tells us talent is out there and it is up to us as community bankers to promote our rewarding profession to our future leaders." 

Ultimately, not every bank will be a good fit for interns, and not every intern will be a good fit for banking. However, no matter where that student's journey in banking ends, they will step off the path with a deeper understanding of the industry, whether they become a bank employee, business or community leader, or simply a more well-informed consumer.

By, Amber Seitz


Join WBA and your fellow emerging leader banker peers from across Wisconsin for our annual BOLT Summer Leadership Summit! The summit will kickoff on Thursday, June 9 at 9:30 a.m. and adjourn at Noon on Friday, June 10.

Visit the Agenda page for a look at the full summit schedule!

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

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 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

The registration fee of $200/attendee includes networking meals and breaks, general sessions, breakout sessions, peer group discussions, and access to the summit mobile app.


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 Thursday, November 4 at 9:00 a.m. and adjourn at 3:00 p.m.

Click Register to visit the event website and watch for more information on the agenda coming soon!

Registration Information

Bank Member Registration: The registration fee of $100/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!

Click Register for additional details and to register online.