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Where the innovators call home

Meet the Wisconsin Innovation Group

Sixteen Innovators - and their credit unions - participated in the Wisconsin Innovation Group, the precursor to this year's WILD Initiative. They represent a broad cross section of credit union sizes, membership and geography (see map, right), as well as a diverse array of roles within the credit union. 

The participants  engaged in a nine-month, collaborative process to create, test and implement financial products, services and business model ideas to benefit members

Their achievements were showcased at The League's 2018 Annual Convention & Expo. 

Read a summary of their innovation ideas >>

Read the details about their innovation ideas >>

Read about this year's innovation program, called WILD >> 
Apply or nominate someone by Aug. 10!

Ross Hubbard

Ross Hubbard, Director of Marketing

1st Community Credit Union, Sparta

Ross has always been involved in marketing, whether in a corporate setting or as an entrepreneur. He went back to school part-time in 2006 and became an early adopter of social media – a tool that serves him well as the voice for his credit union. He identifies as a servant leader because he values close relationships with people. His aim is to create a cooperative environment that offers a sense of ownership and accomplishment.

"On a daily basis I am responsible for the development and execution of marketing strategies and tactics to drive new member growth, engagement and retention. As a team leader I have oversight of meaningful member experiences that lead to brand loyalty. I also seek to inspire those around me to be the best at what they do no matter their role by communicating to influence.”

Alissa Haines

Alissa Haines, Business Process Analyst

Altra Federal Credit Union, La Crosse

Alissa has worked in various positions at the credit union over 13 years including teller, teller supervisor, loan officer and trainer. Prior to her work with credit unions she worked in hospitality in hotel management. She and her husband and four kids live in Holmen. Alissa is an avid runner and also enjoys hot yoga, reading, board games and movies. 

“I have a changing department at the credit union so what I do day-to-day changes. But, some of the things I do include process improvement, core system oversight, finding efficiencies, participating in core user groups and managing small projects."

Lindsey DeBartelo

Lindsey DeBartelo, Director of Innovation

Blackhawk Community Credit Union, Janesville

Lindsey is responsible for the development of new growth strategies and implementation of new products and services that generate significant value for Blackhawk’s members. She has worked in member service, lending and operations. Lindsey holds degrees in marketing and business administration, has a graduate certificate in project management and is pursuing an MBA from UW-Whitewater. Lindsey and her husband have one daughter and two dogs. They enjoy taking trips, reading, cooking, fishing and four-wheeling.

“A great deal of my time is spent managing and implementing projects and I’m fortunate to work with all areas of the credit union. I spend a lot of time researching and analyzing the inner workings of our processes and products. This helps me present ideas to enact changes that improve overall efficiency and quality of service to our members.”

Mandi Goodness

Mandi Goodness, Branch Manager

Bull's Eye Credit Union, Wisconsin Rapids

Mandi has worked in various roles at Bull's Eye since 1999. She started her credit union career in 1997 as a Co-op student at Park City Credit Union. Today she is a member of the Wisconsin Rapids Area Financial Group and a 2016 CUNA Management School graduate. Mandi enjoys attending the League ConventionState Government Affairs Conference and chapter meetings. She is a community volunteer in Wisconsin Rapids, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

“I make my home at our 8th Street location. Every day is a bit different and that’s what I like about being a branch manager. I’m involved in the training committee and the membership marketing committee. Serving our members and making sure their needs are met is always my first priority. Some of my daily tasks consist of scheduling, assisting staff and just making sure the day-to-day operation at the office runs smoothly."

Jon Probst

Jonathan Probst, AVP Consumer Lending

Capital Credit Union, Green Bay

Jon provides support to the consumer lending department, collections department and business development representative. He was born and raised in northeast Wisconsin. He has developed a strong sense of devotion for credit unions after joining the credit union Movement over a decade ago. He takes pride in how credit unions seek to support members of all backgrounds, serving one member, one employee, and one situation at a time.

“I am part of the management team and oversee each department’s operations. My primary role is to find efficiencies and practical application for my departments. I forge new relationships with dealers and businesses that help grow our consumer lending portfolio. I look for and support the implementation of new products and services that support our mission to serve the financially underserved.”

Fred Blask

Fred Blask, VP Risk Strategy & Execution

Corporate Central Credit Union, Muskego

Fred's first credit union experience was in 1993 when he took out a loan for a computer. A family member explained the Credit Union Difference and recommended joining one. Years later, he was encouraged by family again to go the credit union way. In April 2006, he started at Corporate Central, where he maintained network and information security and provided IT project management assistance to various departments. As a Project & Compliance Risk Manager he oversaw compliance with various technology partners and vendors. In October he was promoted to his current role, in which he will lead Corporate Central’s enterprise risk management strategies, maintain the compliance culture, and coordinate internal audits and regulatory exams. He will also research, analyze and evaluate members’ business needs and, through cross-functional teams, form strategic initiatives that address those needs. Fred has two daughters.

“I’m responsible for coordinating Internal/External Audits (and exams) operational & compliance risk, vendor management (third party oversight), our BSA/OFAC/AML program, Business Continuity/Incident response, and mostly Enterprise Risk Management.

Bryan Ermeling

Bryan Ermeling, Vice President - Southern Region

CoVantage Credit Union, Antigo

Bryan has more than 26 years of experience in financial services. He has held leadership positions in consumer and mortgage lending and has served as a Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) officer. He currently oversees branch operations.

“My position entails ensuring five of 12 CoVantage branches are fulfilling the credit union’s mission. I lead a team of five managers and more than 60 employees with loans exceeding $290 million and deposits over $302 million. I oversee all aspects of lending, member service, teller operations, maintenance, and security. I’m also part of the extended management team and assist in implementing strategic initiatives across the retail division of the credit union. I also manage construction projects including design, budget, and oversight of these projects."

Shay Santos

Shay Santos, Executive Vice President

Dane County Credit Union, Madison

Shay grew up in McFarland, Wis., where his first job was on a farm. He earned an undergraduate degree in Economics from UW-Madison and an MBA from Edgewood College. His passion is finance, budgeting and forecasting. He enjoys strategic planning and staff development. Shay and his wife enjoy traveling and spending time with family. He volunteers with Project Home, Habitat for Humanity, and Saint Vincent de Paul.

“I lead our lending, accounting, and technology teams, providing guidance to staff as we share solutions with our members. The best part of my day is the challenges that come with balancing different responsibilities. My lifelong goal is continual improvement of my leadership skills. My philosophy is that we are here to provide value to each other. The important life skills that I’ve learned are the benefits of continual improvement, patience, and compassion.”

Kara Guse

Kara Guse, Director of Technology and Operations

Glacier Hills Credit Union, West Bend

Kara has held numerous positions within the credit union over the last 15 years, including three years on the Board of Directors. She graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a bachelors degree in sociology. Kara completed the National Credit Union Development Education Program (CUDE), graduating in 2016. Kara is a Junior Achievement volunteer and serves on the boards of directors for Leadership West Bend, Friends of Lac Lawrann Conservancy and the Kettle Moraine Figure Skating Club. She’s also a Severe Storm Spotter for the National Weather Service. She also relishes her role as a wife and mom, volunteering for her children’s school and working on do-it-yourself projects at home.

“I provide IT leadership and direction for the credit union, ensuring that all credit union systems are current, operational and secure. I also provide managerial leadership that includes training, goal-setting, budgeting, policy development, coaching, communication and much more.”

Tina Liegel

Tina Liegel, Operations Trainer

Heartland Credit Union, Madison

Tina has worked her way through roles as teller, receptionist, assistant branch manager, member service representative, operations assistant, and deposit manager. Community outreach is important to her, and she actively volunteers on behalf of Heartland. You can find her face painting at the Deforest Farmers Market or handing out candy in the 4th of July parade. Originally from Madison, she now lives in Deforest with her husband and three children.  

“I provide new hires the basic knowledge of the credit union and the operational functions of their day to day tasks. I also train the current employees as they transition into new roles as part of our universal employee program.”

Lesley Enz

Lesley Enz, Assistant Vice President

PCM Credit Union, Green Bay

Lesley started her credit union career as a teenager, while completing an associate degree in business administration-credit. She has worked in the member service area, collections, loan processing, consumer & mortgage lending, financial counseling, and now the management team. She says her style is laid back and she strongly believes in work-life balance. She feels that being genuine while keeping a good attitude is the best way to live. She married her high-school sweetheart and they are raising two children in the small town they grew up in with both grandparents nearby. 

“I oversee the collections area and handle many loss mitigation issues. I monitor our impaired loans and help with the allowance for loan loss calculation. I also am an assistant to our president and EVP and part of our management team. This keeps me in the loop and helps me contribute to other departments and programs that we consider for our membership and staff.”


Danielle Green

Danielle Green, Project Coordinator

Park City Credit Union, Merrill

Danielle is responsible for all new initiatives the credit union takes on both internally and externally. She also maintains the vendor management program along with the core system. Danielle holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from UW-Eau Claire and is pursuing a master’s degree in administration from Viterbo University. She draws inspiration from Eleanor Roosevelt’s remark, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” She enjoys classic novels and photography. She is a mom of three and a Junior Achievement volunteer. 

“I manage initiatives, sometimes working with multiple departments, to help ensure our overall goals for the projects are being reached. Communication is one of the biggest aspects of my job – making sure all tasks are accomplished and completed according to the timeline. I also manage the vendors we work with to make sure we are in compliance. Finally, I am a primary contact for report requests within our core system along with any issues it may be experiencing.”


Sonny Schaar

Sonny Schaar, Marketing Coordinator

Premier Financial Credit Union, New Holstein

Sonny has worked for the credit union for seven years. She was influential in starting an internal YP Group at the credit union. She also serves as a Director for the New Holstein Area Chamber of Commerce, for which she chairs the Country Christmas Committee and assists with promotions. She also serves as Secretary for the Police and Fire Commission for the City of New Holstein. Sonny has also been actively involved in The League’s Young Professionals (YP) Program. She joined YPs in attending The League Convention, mentored YPs at League events, attended YP Boot Camps, and served on the YP Advisory Board.

“I am the dreamer! I get to dream up all the events, promotions and marketing campaigns. From organizing parade floats, concerts in the park, Easter egg hunts, to designing all print and digital marketing pieces. I lead our in-school branch and am responsible for promoting the branch, providing financial education, and making sure the students have fun in the process.”

Amy Bauer

Amy Bauer, VP - Shared Project Services

Royal Credit Union, Eau Claire

Amy began her 10-plus-year career at RCU leading a team that familiarizes new team members with the credit union’s culture and systems and guides existing team members through change. In her present role, she identifies and implements process improvements; already she’s saved an estimated 400 hours of team member time in the first half of 2017. She is also responsible for a corporate project process and portfolio management group. Amy has volunteered with Junior Achievement for over 10 years, and currently serves on the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Eau Claire Advocacy Center Community Board.

"I lead a team of individual contributors and leaders who play critical roles in identifying and implementing process improvements and projects. I also lead a committee, consisting primarily of VPs, who actively review new project ideas and align resources to support them."

Ben Bauer

Ben Bauer, Director of Marketing

Simplicity Credit Union, Marshfield

Ben is an active member of the community including serving as a board member for the Marshfield Sunrise Rotary Club, Marshfield Area Community Foundation, Inc., Spencer Youth Recreations, Inc., and an assistant coach for Spencer-Columbus Varsity Football Team. Ben and his wife, a special education teacher, love to spend as much time possible with their 2-year old son and enjoy biking, running, hiking and camping.

“I’m a graphic designer by trade and in a small department of three people, I still get to do a lot of design, which I love! As a director, I’m also tasked with planning, budgeting and executing our marketing initiatives with a heavy dose of fun and engagement for both members and staff. I am privileged to be on our management team where I get to interact with all other departments from front line to back office staff, allowing me to contribute to our strategic initiatives and the overall well-being of the credit union.”

Matt Sathoff

Matt Sathoff, Consumer Loan Processing & Servicing Manager

UW Credit Union, Madison

Matt Sathoff has worked for 15 years in various positions in retail and lending. He was born and raised in Monroe, Wis. He attended UW-Madison and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with majors of finance and management. He is currently enrolled in the online MBA program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, specializing in business analytics. Matt likes to coach or attend his kids’ school and sporting events. He is a loyal St. Louis Cardinals fan and he enjoys going to baseball games with his friends and family. Matt and his wife have three children and live in Verona.

“I manage all consumer loan processing and servicing activities. I am responsible for the daily volume, service and quality standards of consumer loans during the application process and throughout the life of the loan.”