Winkleman named President of Geneseo Chamber Board

by Claudia Loucks correspondent
Bethany Winkleman

Meet Bethany Winkleman - She has been named president of the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Committee and plans to implement the “Good Deeds” motto into that position that she and her staff apply at her State Farm Agency in Geneseo.

Other officers of the Geneseo Chamber’s Executive Committee are Adam Minard, vice president, Sweet Peas Grill & Bar; Shelly Hickerson, treasurer, Black Hawk Bank & Trust; Mary Grywacheski, past president, Quad Cities Investment Group; and Zack Sullivan, executive director of the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce.

Also serving on the Chamber’s Board of Directors are Julie Bauman, Hammond-Henry Hospital; Amy DeFauw, Katsch Boutique; Christine Heald, Musical Memories; JoAnn Hollenkamp, City of Geneseo; Nancy Jackson, Central Bank; Katie Kutsunis, GWK Enterprises; Joe Mowen, Northside Elementary School; Catherine Rothschild, CPA PC; Andy Thurman, Geneseo Park District; and Ben Young, Nash Bean Ford & Brown LLC.

Winkleman has been part of the Geneseo Chamber of Commerce Board since 2019 and it is evident that she genuinely cares about Geneseo, where she was born and raised.

She describes herself as a “business owner, person, wife, mother, daughter, friend and community leader. Yes, I am building a business in my hometown, but ensuring that we genuinely care for those in our community is so important to our office and my family. We try to take every opportunity to provide that memorable experience with every interaction with our clients, community members, family, and everyone we come in contact with. What my parents taught us is so valuable – "be generous, thoughtful, and selfless.”

“Every day is an opportunity to make a difference by doing something good for someone else,” she said. “We call them ‘good deeds’ at our agency. We try to take every opportunity to provide that memorable experience with every in-touch with clients, community members, family, and everyone we come in contact with.”

When asked about goals of the Geneseo Chamber for 2021, Winkleman responded, “A tagline of the Chamber often used is ABC – Advancing Business and Community.”

“We plan to continue to partner with the City as well as with many other organizations to promote Geneseo, including:

-Expanding the Chamber’s digital footprint using social media and broadcast technology to promote tourism in Geneseo and member businesses.

-Continue to host high quality community event programming in a safe manner.

-Grow our business membership base and support member businesses by sharing valuable resources.”

In regard to the challenges in promoting Geneseo in the midst of Covid-19, Winkleman said, “While 2020 presented many challenges for many communities, this amazing town and Chamber were able to support local business. The Chamber focused on following guidelines while also holding events that would still showcase Geneseo as a destination for folks.”

She continued, “We were able to modify events and even create additional events like ‘Scarecrow Row,’ which not only involved the business community, but the community as a whole.”

“It was important to partner with other Chambers, state organizations like the IACCE, and local resources to have an organized and thoughtful plan in place to host safe events to the best of our ability in 2020,” she said. “Although it was a very tough year, we look forward to rebounding in 2021 with a strong sense of community and business support.”

Winkleman, the former Bethany Pray, is the daughter of Linda Pray and the late Dr. Roger Pray. She graduated from Geneseo High School in 1999 and earned a degree in Finance from the Business School, University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign.

After graduating from college, she lived in Chicago where she started her career in the banking industry and she now has 17 years experience in the financial industry.

“The majority of my career has been with Bank of America where I, at one time, was responsible for over 30 branches in the city and nearby suburbs, held the position of Learning Manger for Retail which covered the United States.”

Her most recent role with Bank of America, prior to opening the State Farm Agency in Geneseo, was Learning and Leadership Development Manager for the Midwest which made her responsible for executive learning, coaching, human resources, and leadership development.

She lived in Chicago for 12 years which is where she met her husband, Michael Winkleman. The couple has two sons, nine-year-old James; and five-year-old Roger.

“Mike and I decided to move home to Geneseo in 2015 right after Roger was born,” she said. “We loved the city, but we were ready to be in a smaller town for the boys to grow up. It was an easy decision to move back where we felt at home. Both of our jobs let us work from here which was great for us, but I was traveling quite a bit and so was Mike. We were often like two ships passing in the night with a newborn and a toddler.”

Winkleman said she received a few calls form State Farm and the one that caught her attention was when she was boarding a plane in Moline….”The opportunity was to be in Geneseo and have the honor to continue on with the great work that Jim Frederich had built in Geneseo with his State Farm Agency….What a great opportunity!”

She opened the Winkleman State Farm Agency in Geneseo on Jan. 2, 2018, and she said, “The opportunity to run a business in Geneseo offered me the chance to follow in my father’s footsteps and be part of the local business community.”

In addition to being president of the Chamber of Commerce Board, Winkleman also is a board member with the Geneseo Education Foundation; member of Geneseo Kiwanis, Geneseo Rotary and is a committee member for Geneseo Park District’s Parktoberfest, State Street Market, Geneseo’s Art Walk and the 2018-2019 Giving Tree initiative.

Winkleman’s “Good Deeds” efforts includes her State Farm Agency supporting local 501c3’s and she explained that when someone contacts the agency for a quote during a certain time frame, a donation is made to a local charity. The Agency has done this for the last two years, Winkleman said…”We have been able to support Foster Hope, Dress for Success, Braveheart, Geneseo Family & Marriage Counseling, Brantley Francis Foundation and the Geneseo Park District Foundation…We will continue to do random acts of kindness for the community and expand our efforts…Good Deeds…Good Deeds!”