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By Daniel J. Peterson

For 130 years, the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) has led bankers in their efforts to deepen their knowledge and connect with their communities. This intense focus and commitment to Wisconsin bankers has allowed the organization to serve as a pillar for all things banking — such as education and advocacy.

While the Association only continues to grow, serving 98 percent of the banks in the state — over 35,000 bankers total — the pandemic halted many of the ways in which bankers connected with their peers and community members.

As WBA events, and life in general, more closely resemble the state of normalcy we last knew in early 2020, I encourage WBA-member banks to take this year to further deepen your engagement with the Association and ultimately make the most of your membership.

Whether it be taking part in events such as the Building Our Leaders of Tomorrow (BOLT) Summits, any of the nearly 900 educational opportunities offered each year, volunteering in WBA’s Advocacy Officer program, or one of the many committees — there is something of interest for every member, at every level of your bank.

WBA also offers several resources for bankers, including the newly remodeled Engagement Center located at the WBA office in Madison. This space includes state-of-the-art technology and ample room for banks to lead planning sessions, hold hybrid or in-person meetings, or designate a quiet area to work. Additionally, the Engagement Center annually hosts hundreds of bankers from around the state for training sessions, seminars, and schools.

WBA’s role in fostering the growth of the banking industry in Wisconsin is critical and unlike many other opportunities offered elsewhere. Your engagement in WBA’s efforts assists the organization in staying relevant and helps provide the highest quality resources and information to every member.

As I look to the year ahead, I am excited to discover all the new ways WBA members will create deeper connections with their peers and the banking industry. Not only do WBA programs provide benefits for banking leaders and their teams, but as trusted advisors and leaders in our communities, we have a unique opportunity to share our financial expertise with public officials and neighbors. Bankers throughout the state serve as the most important spokespeople for our industry.

By increasing engagement, not only do our teams benefit from education and networking opportunities, WBA is able to better understand how to best serve Wisconsin bankers. I am repeatedly reminded that WBA is our association. Now’s the time for bankers around the state to take advantage of the multitude of ways in which to engage for the benefit of shaping professional growth, developing connections, and shaping our industry as a whole.

Peterson is president and CEO of The Stephenson National Bank & Trust, Marinette, and the 2022–2023 WBA Chair.

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Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) began its 2022–2023 fiscal year. The ceremony, held on June 8, formally installed President and CEO of The Stephenson National Bank and Trust Dan Peterson as WBA’s chair of the Board, welcomed several new Board officers, and thanked several members for their valuable contributions to the association as they ended their terms.

Dan was able to sit down with me for a short conversation to introduce himself to the membership and highlight the goals he has for the organization for the upcoming year.

Dan first started his career in banking as an assistant loan officer at The Stephenson National Bank and Trust in 1988. After gaining experience in all lending areas of the bank, he was promoted to his current role as president and CEO in 2013.

As chair of the WBA Board of Directors, Dan aims to deepen member engagement this fiscal year. Following nearly three years of remote or hybrid events, conferences, and schools, it is no question that bankers throughout the state are looking to reengage with their peers and gain valuable experience outside of the office.

As more education and advocacy-related opportunities at WBA return in person — such as peer groups reconvening at our office in Madison or conferences occurring at venues across the state once again — the membership is encouraged to take advantage of WBA’s selection of options to further develop skills, network among peers, or volunteer time for the benefit of our entire industry.

In addition to taking part in events held by WBA, Dan offers a few other ways bankers may consider deepening their engagement with the association. WBA’s newly renovated office in Madison features a state-of-the-art Engagement Center for members from around the state to use, and the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) — WBA’s non-profit arm — offers resources that assist bankers in further engaging and connecting with their communities on the topic of financial literacy.

As Dan, the WBA staff, and I look ahead to another summer and fall filled with opportunities for bankers to deepen their knowledge and expand professional networks — we encourage you and your staff to engage however possible. By joining our CEOnly/CFOnly Network, becoming an Advocacy Officer, or attending any WBA school or event, you assist us in better serving you!

To learn more about WBA Board Chair Dan Peterson and his goals for the upcoming fiscal year, please keep an eye out for WBA’s upcoming July Wisconsin Banker.

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Reserve a space in WBA’s Engagement Center today!

The Enterprise Risk Management Peer Group met in person and virtually in the WBA Board Room. This room accommodates 12–20 people.

Since the completion of WBA’s remodel in 2020, hundreds of bankers from around Wisconsin have had the opportunity to experience the new Engagement Center. Featuring two dedicated training rooms, a board room with video conferencing capabilities, and a conference room with a touchscreen smartboard — the Engagement Center offers the space and capabilities for WBA-member bankers to learn and connect.

In addition to providing bankers a space to attend WBA educational courses and training events, these spaces are available for every WBA member bank to reserve.

WBA welcomes every member bank to take advantage of the Engagement Center for the benefit of their teams. From technology-enabled spaces to a beautifully redesigned café, WBA’s modern facility is a resource that banks can use to hold strategic meetings, training presentations, or remote conference calls. The Engagement Center also serves as a quiet spot in the Madison area for those bankers visiting the state’s capital and looking to get work done.

Any WBA-member bank looking for additional locations to hold meetings, meet between branches, or access technology-enabled spaces to train, present, or remotely connect is encouraged to take advantage of WBA’s Engagement Center.

Please contact WBA’s Association Meeting Planner/Engagement Center Manager Jody Roos at to learn more about what the Engagement Center offers or to reserve a space.

Baseball fans recently rejoiced as opening day stretched across many U.S. stadiums and people were invited to watch their home team’s game the way it was meant to be enjoyed. Not only did this symbolize a return to America’s favorite pastime – it showed the progress toward normalcy that we continue to make. 

For the Wisconsin Bankers Association, our version of opening day came as we welcomed the Board of Directors back into our building for the first time in over a year. The hybrid meeting took place with safety guidelines and a virtual option for those unable to attend in person. While at WBA, the members took a tour of the newly remodeled building, met the newest WBA staff members, and caught up with some familiar faces around the office. In addition, the WBA Board enjoyed our version of a tailgate party with lunch served in our new café.  

Hosting this meeting in our building has only been the start of this change. We are also moving ahead to welcome the bankers back to the Engagement Center soon, following appropriate safety protocol, and we are excited to create an environment where bankers can expand their industry knowledge once again. In the coming weeks, WBA will be hosting banking schools covering topics on Commercial Lending, Residential Mortgage Lending and a School of Bank Management.  

With the WBA fiscal year concluding at the end of this month, I am reminded of how WBA’s education pivoted swiftly and performed successfully during this past year. Delivering educational programs to our members is a team effort across our many departments, including education, communications, legal, IT, and administrative support. Having to shift to mainly virtual education due to COVID was a challenge for all of us, but we made it through. I am thankful for the great work accomplished internally, and this of course could not have been achieved without the strong support of our WBA-member bankers. 

Throughout the course of the pandemic, WBA education had in many cases higher participation levels virtually compared to just in-person events. Because of this, the education projections achieved budget levels that will help contribute to furthering the mission of WBA. Regardless of how familiar we have all become with virtual learning, we realize how significant of a role networking plays for our members. We look forward to resuming in-person events, and WBA is excited to offer education virtually, in-person, or in a hybrid approach depending on the event. We thank you for supporting WBA education every step of the way, and we’re excited to see you all and welcome you back into the building. 

By, Alex Paniagua