By Hannah Flanders

In 2008, Leah Wilson was awarded the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation (WBF) Spring Scholarship, which, at that time, was the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s (WBA) Retail Banking Section “Technical College” Scholarship. While a lot has changed since the mid-2000s not only in Wilson’s career, but also in the banking industry; some things remain absolutely the same — bankers’ commitment to their communities and to the future success of the banking industry

Between her junior and senior year in high school, Wilson began her career in banking as a teller at Mid-Wisconsin Bank in Neillsville. Shortly after, she had decided that a career in banking would align well with her passion for business and math while also allowing her to work within the office setting she had always envisioned.

In the last several years, Wilson has held many positions throughout the bank from teller to personal banker and is now assistant vice president – mortgage lender and assistant branch manager at Citizens State Bank of Loyal in Neillsville. Her expertise in the industry is a result of her dedication to bettering her community and understanding how to navigate her career path.

As she looks back upon the last 14 years in the banking industry, she credits WBA’s scholarship for her ability to further her education at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) in Eau Claire. While in the business management program, she was able to complete many courses that continue to be beneficial to her career.

In addition to the CVTC courses she pursued with the scholarship, Wilson has attended several courses offered by WBA, including Residential Mortgage Lending School and Lending Boot Camp, that have allowed continuous growth in her career. “I have learned a lot through the education opportunities provided by the WBA,” says Wilson. “I would encourage people to familiarize themselves with these opportunities and use them.”

Within the community banking environment, in which she has spent much of her career, Wilson has been able to take advantage of many opportunities offered in the bank to further explore several different departments and discover which career path was best suited for her goals and interests. The opportunities, provided in part by WBA and her bank, have allowed Wilson to take ownership of the career path she desired as well as continue to grow alongside the industry — long after the scholarship was awarded.

Ultimately, the opportunities have provided Wilson access to what she considers to be some of the “endless benefits of working in a community bank,” including the ability to build strong relationships with customers, develop deeper connections within the community, and develop her own path that aligns with her goals and interests.


Join WBA and your fellow Retail, Sales, and Marketing peers from across Wisconsin for the gathering of the WBA LEAD360 Conference! The Conference will kickoff on November 16 at 9:30 a.m. and adjourn at Noon on November 17. 

Bank Member Registration: The registration fee is $350 for first attendee. Each additional attendee from your bank is $300 each additional attendee in-person*.

  • Registration includes networking meals and breaks, general sessions, breakout sessions, and access to the conference mobile app. Day Two Only Registration is $100/per attendee.

*To receive the published discount, you must register everyone at the same time.

Associate Member Registration:

  • Associate Members are encouraged to send their staff as well! The same registration fee is available to WBA Associate Members.
  • Interested in upgrading your presence? Register to be a conference sponsor to receive additional benefits and conference recognition!
  • Click on the Speakers and Agenda tabs for more information.  This Conference is for your Retail Bankers, Sales/Marketing Bankers, and Financial Literacy Bankers.

Associate Member & Exhibitor Registration Information:

WBA Associate Members can register to exhibit at the conference ($600/booth including 2 attendees; $250/additional booth attendee) or register as a non-exhibiting conference attendee ($350/attendee).

Please contact WBA’s Nick Loppnow at 608-441-1259 for more information.

  • Non-members are welcome to register to exhibit at the conference at the non-member rates ($1,000/booth including 2 attendees; $250/additional booth attendee)
  • Interested in upgrading your presence? Register to be a conference sponsor to receive additional benefits and conference recognition!

The WBA Personal Banker School will start on Wednesday, November 2, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. and adjourn on Thursday, November 3, 2022 by 4:00 p.m.
This school has been designed to get personal bankers up to speed quickly by providing them with the techniques and knowledge they need to successfully sell, cross sell, refer and service the banking industry’s ever expanding list of financial products. Attendees will leave the school better equipped to provide your customers with exceptional product knowledge and customer service.

Curriculum Includes:

  • Compliance Overview – focusing on regulations and laws that every personal banker should know.
  • Account Titling – covering individual and joint accounts, trusts, minor accounts, POAs, PODs, and business accounts.
  • Understanding the Financial Side of Banking – understanding the business of banking and the retail bankers role in overall bank profitability.
  • Building & Maintaining Relationships – assessing customer needs, identifying opportunities, and building relationships with your customers.
  • Steps for Successful Sales, Cross-Sells, and Referrals
  • Kick Starting High Performance – understanding your role at the bank and having the skills that are necessary to achieve your goals and exceed performance expectations.
  • Group case study and in-class activities to apply what you have learned.

School Faculty:

  • Scott Birrenkott, Director-Legal, Wisconsin Bankers Association
  • Jennifer Pieper, Principal, JPieper Consulting

Who Should Attend?
This school was developed for Personal Bankers, New Accounts Personnel, and others who manage retail account relationships. Both new and experienced staff will benefit.

Registration Information:
The registration fee of $495 includes program registration, instruction and materials, and daily lunch and refreshment breaks.

The WBA Branch Manager Boot Camp will include 4 virtual half-day sessions. Sessions will be held on Zoom from 8:00–11:00 a.m. CT on May 24, June 28, July 26, and August 30.

About the Program:
Want to grow your total assets in excess of 20% year-over-year? Wish to grow your deposit base by more than 20%? Then consider an investment in training your branch managers in our Branch Manager Bootcamp!

What does your branch have that alternate branch channels and non-bank competitors don’t? The branch has you and your people. As the number of branch transactions continues to fall, community banks and credit unions must reassess the role of the branch manager. Companies must invest in the manager, giving him or her the right people, tools, client goals, and sales goals, and step back and watch the results change into a dynamic source of profitability.

This exciting, four-part series will focus on the next generation manager who will be leading the transition to client relationship management, and to managing an active advisory environment for the client to achieve financial goals. The next generation manager will be leading this vital transformation.

The program will focus on the critical skills and expectations that need to be developed to ensure that the next generation branch manager will exceed expectations and goals set for him or her. Participants will engage in discussions, small group activities, and skills practices to ensure that ideas are shared and learning is entertaining and adopted.

Who Should Attend:
New and experienced Branch Managers, Assistant Branch Managers, Teller Supervisors, Lead Frontline Professionals, and any professional aspiring to lead the team in a retail branch.

About the Speaker:
Jennie Sobecki
is the owner and CEO of Focused Results, a sales and marketing strategy, consulting and training firm concentrating on results-driven process consulting and training experience in community banks and other financial institutions. An expert in designing and implementing sales efforts and processes, Sobecki designs solutions to drive top line growth through better utilization and training of existing sales forces, including sales management.

Sobecki is a graduate of Indiana University and has a certificate in consulting services from Ball State University. Before joining Focused Results, Sobecki was director of sales and marketing for a $3 billion bank holding company, sales manager for a high-performing mid-level Indianapolis bank, and director of corporate training for a large Midwest insurance company.

Registration Information:
The registration fee of $800/attendee includes program registration for each of the four sessions, instruction and electronic materials. Upon completion of all four sessions, attendees will receive a certificate of completion for the Branch Manager Boot Camp.

It is universally understood that asset\liability management (ALM) is a critical function for management of your financial institution’s performance.  Understanding and measuring the financial risks assumed by your institution and the associated rewards is the essence of good financial management.

For decades, industry net interest margins have under pressure due to lower interest rates and increased competition.  With growing pressure from non-bank players offering “banking” services, using the ALM process to measure and more importantly, MANAGE, your performance and risks to your institution’s return has never been greater.

This course provides attendees with a basic understanding of the asset\liability management process.  In the session we cover the role of Asset/Liability Management (ALM) as well as the fundamental components to an effective ALM process to measure and manage key risks.

This webinar will cover

  • The role of the ALM process in financial institutions
  • Options to measure risks we care about in the ALM process
  • Measurements do we use to address ALCO risks,
  • The common faults in community FI risk assessments

Participants will

  • Understand the overall framework of Asset/Liability Management
  • Analyze the key risk areas ALCO must manage
  • Explain the role of income simulation, duration and economic value measures
  • Explain the different between static and dynamic value at risk measurements
  • Define Income at risk and value at risk
  • Understand the role of liquidity risk management
  • Outline key variables impacting the results

Target Audience
CEOs, CFOs, ALCO members, controllers, chief risk officer, chief retail, funding officers.  This session is intended for individuals that are new to the ALM process.

Susan Sharbel, Abrigo

Registration Option
Live presentation $330

Recording available through May 2, 2022