By Kristine Zaballos
Asst. Director University Marketing & Communications
Fort Atkinson-based PremierBank, a community bank with nine locations in southeastern Wisconsin, has long enjoyed a strong relationship with the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Several key leadership roles at the bank are filled by Warhawk alumni. The bank offers internships to students and first jobs to newly minted graduates. And the bank supports Warhawk Athletics — most notably as a sponsor of game previews and of the PremierBank recap.
On Wednesday, Nov. 29, Chancellor Corey A. King and Athletic Director Ryan Callahan met with PremierBank Chairman/CEO Russ Turk and other bank leaders to celebrate the funding that will deepen that partnership in 2024.
“UW-Whitewater is such an important part of the community, not only as an employer and educational resource but also as a community-building resource offering so many programs that enrich Whitewater and beyond,” said Turk. “Supporting the Athletics Department allows us to show our support of the institution and reach a wide range of stakeholders.”
“We are grateful for our partnership with PremierBank,” Callahan said. “UW-Whitewater shares a commitment to the betterment of the local community with PremierBank. We feel we can successfully prepare our student-athletes to pursue excellence inside and outside of competition and, as graduates, make a positive impact on their communities thanks to the support of PremierBank.”
Three PremierBank leaders who are UW-Whitewater alumni also attended. Joel Kohl, who earned a BBA in economics in 2001, is a vice president and loan officer for the bank, where he has worked for more than seven years. Peggy Stebbins, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the bank, earned a BBA in accounting in 2008 and an MPA in 2009. She joined the bank in early 2023 after working in several other financial institutions.
“When I was a student at UW-Whitewater, I did my internship at what is now referred to as Baker Tilly — then it was Virchow Krause — and I had the opportunity to work with several local community banks in Southeastern Wisconsin,” said Stebbins. “ I am so thankful that UWW incorporated an internship program into the curriculum — it set me up for long-term success in my career.”
Matt Zastrow, first vice president and chief lending officer, is also an alumnus, having earned a BBA in operations management in 2001.
“My degree helped me get into a small community bank setting where I started as a credit analyst and, as I grew in that role, I was given the opportunity to get into commercial lending,” said Zastrow. “After 16 years, I had an opportunity to take on a leadership role with PremierBank.”
“I enjoyed my time at UW-Whitewater because it had the small town feel, yet its graduates can compete with anyone out there,” said Zastrow, who has been working at the bank for more than five years.
“That is very similar to PremierBank; we are a community bank serving smaller communities — but we have all the products and services of the big banks.”