2023 Banker of the Year


MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) is pleased to announce that Gerald Jacobson, president of Northwestern Bank, headquartered in Chippewa Falls, Wis., has been named the 2023 Banker of the Year. An award ceremony was held the evening of February 8, 2024 in Wisconsin Dells at the largest banking industry event in the state, the WBA Bank Executives Conference.

“On behalf of our Association, it is my honor to congratulate Jerry on earning this recognition,” said Rose Oswald Poels, WBA president and CEO. “He is a highly accomplished yet humble individual who leads by example in his bank, in his community, and at the state and national levels of the banking industry.”

“This award is an honor and could only have been achieved with the support of our Northwestern Bank team both past and present. The employees and bank directors care about our customers and communities. They are committed to building stronger communities and I’m proud to share this award with the entire Bank.” – Gerald Jacobson

Jacobson has been in banking since June of 1978. In his 45 years at Northwestern Bank, he worked as a teller, auditor, cashier, executive vice president, and president. He has been president of the bank since 1998. 

Getting to know staff on a personal level and providing opportunities for professional success are priorities of Jacobson’s. As an example, he walks to the post office most days to get the mail. He will then sort it and hand it out to the Chippewa Falls branch employees, giving him the opportunity to greet most employees daily. He takes time out of every week to go to all Northwestern Bank locations to visit with staff.

Jacobson has volunteered with more than two dozen civic and community organizations. For example, he played an integral role in the establishment of the Community Foundation of Chippewa County, which provides a means for individual and corporate donors to financially support communities throughout the Chippewa Valley. Jacobson and his wife, have created a leadership family endowment with the Foundation for the benefit of future generations. Jacobson also helped to establish Blugold Beginnings, a program designed to inspire underrepresented, low-income, and first-generation students to attend UW-Eau Claire. Jacobson encourages volunteerism amongst the more than 80 employees at Northwestern Bank, who collectively share approximately 1,600 hours annually with community organizations.

Jacobson has worked extensively on economic development in the Chippewa Valley region and has nurtured the thriving downtowns in both Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire. He has taken on leadership roles with organizations such as the Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Chippewa Falls Business Improvement District.

Under Jacobson’s leadership as CEO, Northwestern bank has seen asset growth quadruple from $152MM to $607MM (as of December 2022), while the bank’s net income quintupled from $2MM to $10.7MM over the same period. Jacobson has been lauded for managing the bank profitably without compromising the safety of the institution.

Jacobson has served as an advocate for the banking industry and his community with local and state governments. He has served on the boards of the Community Bankers of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Bankers Association. At the national level, Jacobson has been re-elected to serve a second term, which began January 1, 2024, on the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Board of Directors.


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