By: Tom Whooley
Vice President, Commercial Lending
NMLS #: 743078
Lanna Bartko is an INB employee because of her involvement with the Champaign Urbana Jaycees. Her leadership roles with the organization have done nothing but make her a better employee.
Lanna walked into INB because the Jaycees were sponsoring a toiletry drive and the Champaign branch was a drop off location. When stopping to collect the donations, she learned about an opening for a relationship banker, applied, and got the job. Now, she’s not only working for INB, but she’s also serving as the Jaycees president.
To put it mildly, Lanna is a huge proponent of the Jaycees organization. “It has given me so much,” she says.
Lanna says her involvement with the Jaycees just fell in her lap. She knew the Jaycees existed because she had gone to meetings in Clinton, Iowa as a visitor; her college roommate was a member and the meetings were something to do. When Lanna returned to her hometown of Champaign, she decided it was time to do something new. “My grandfather had volunteered all the time when I was a kid, and I followed him around.” As a result, Lanna says, volunteering seemed like the right thing to do. Because she was familiar with the Jaycees, she checked them out. She learned that while the organization is 100 years old, the Champaign-Urbana group is barely three years old because the original CU Jaycees had disbanded. In February 2018 the group was re-chartered, and Lanna joined a month later. Since then, she’s been instrumental in growing the membership.
C-U’s Ever-Changing Population Tough on Groups
She notes the transient nature of Champaign-Urbana makes it hard for even life-long residents to “find their place.” But Lanna has found hers, calling fellow Jaycee members her “Forever Friends.”
While this group of friends can’t meet in person right now, Lanna says they’ve been able to continue to move forward even though she’s had to dismiss some of her planned goals for her year-long presidency. “My motto is ‘Grow Your Community Roots.’ Most members aren’t from Champaign, and I want them to know they can grow their roots in our community. I also intended for the theme to have a meaning at the organizational level. My plans were to grow our events and impact. Obviously, we’ve had to step back from that.”
Even without bigger events and fundraisers, Lanna expects the Jaycees to make a positive impact on the community. The past few years, they’ve held a school supply drive. To make the event safe this year, they went digital. They simply asked community members to donate $5 to pay the cost of supplies for one child. They then filled INB-donated cinch sacks with supplies. Thanks to donations, they were able to donate 75 sacks to a local school.
Jaycees Develops Tomorrow’s Leaders
Lanna explains that the Jaycees organization is made up of members age 18 to 41 and is committed to developing tomorrow’s community leaders. The organization uses the phrase “One Year to Lead,” meaning no one can hold a leadership role for more than a year to assure others to get the opportunity to hone their skills.
When she decided to join the organization, Lanna says she “dove in headfirst.” Others noticed. She was nationally recognized as a Rookie of the Year her first year.
In her three years with the group, Lanna says her experience at the North American Academy in Washington, D.C. was by far the best. “The academy is a weekend of extreme leadership building,” Lanna explains. “You looked at yourself and what you can give and provide to those you lead. I made connections from across the country – and even internationally.”
Today, Lanna says she can go to Jaycees meetings all across the world thanks to virtual events. Her C-U group has done what it can to move to the virtual world. For example, members continue to hone presentation skills via presentations on Zoom. Andi Whalen, an INB branch manager and Jaycees member, recently did a presentation on credit score. A realtor did a presentation on buying a house during Covid. Lanna says: “I didn’t know much about credit scores, and I don’t own a house, so both of these were intriguing to me and other young members while giving the presenters a chance to work on their presentation skills.”
Covid Brings Leadership
While her plans for the Jaycees have shifted drastically because of Covid-19, the pandemic has given her the chance to learn to think quickly and change directions on a dime. “For example, we were planning a 5K fundraiser and had to quickly move from ‘actual’ to ‘virtual.’ This is giving us another opportunity to play with technology.”
While taking advantage of technology, Lanna and her Jaycees team is using old-fashioned networking to grow their membership. “We’ve sent letters to businesses asking them to identify potential members,” she cites as one example.
And no matter what, Lanna says they will keep to their mission of serving the community. They will continue to keep up with their adopted Urbana street that members clean a couple of times a year, and they will find a way to hold not only a school supply drive, but canned food and winter clothing drives, too. Lanna’s also connected the Jaycees with the C-U Theater Company, a group her grandfather helped start; the organizations jointly host a dinner theater fundraiser. Last year they raised money for Camp New Hope, an organization helping kids with special needs.