Forward Janesville: To Launch Latinx Outreach Program – Adelante Janesville

Angela Pakes
Forward Janesville, Inc.     
President & CEO          
+1 (608) 250-0743   

Janesville, WI – Forward Janesville will officially launch a new Latinx Outreach ProgramAdelante Janesville, July 13, 2023 at Business After Five, hosted by PremierBank at the bank’s Janesville location, 1400 Black Bridge RoadJanesville, Wisconsin from 5-7pm. A brief program is planned at 6 p.m. to officially announce the Latinx Outreach Program and recognize some of its key stakeholders.

“At Forward Janesville, we know that diversity is a key ingredient to a thriving economy and an essential component to community development.  This initiative was a result of Forward Janesville’s goal to broaden our membership base to better reflect our community,” shared Angela Pakes, President of Forward Janesville. In the fall of 2022, Forward Janesville contracted with bi-lingual consultant Claire Olsen to identify existing business and community support initiatives for Latinx business community and to gain a better understanding of their business and community needs in order grow their participation in and engagement with Forward Janesville.

Pakes added, “The most important part of Claire’s work was meeting people and listening to their needs. Claire’s background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish, Masters in Business Administration from UW-Whitewater, and she lived for four years in Ecuador and the Dominican Republic traveling extensively in Central and South America. Claire is passionate about serving as a bridge of understanding and communication between her native roots and Latinx culture. Upon beginning her relationship with Forward Janesville, one of Claire’s first interactions was with Silvia Donde-Selensky, Janesville-based Bilingual Residential lender at PremierBank who immediately helped introduce Claire to local business leaders.” For many years Donde-Selensky has worked in financial services as a bilingual banker while volunteering her free time to teach those with limited English proficiency about a variety of financial literacy topics, in their native language, including budgeting, how to secure credit, and steps to saving. Donde-Selensky was asked to join the newly created Latinx Council. 

According to U.S. Census data, nearly 40 million Americans speak primarily Spanish at home. To meet the swift growth of the local Latinx community that is reshaping the Wisconsin region PremierBank serves, the bank has worked aggressively to provide financial resources to the local Spanish speaking community. PremierBank’s Chairman, President & CEO Russ Turk said, “Several years ago we formed an internal Bilingual Initiatives committee that focuses on outreach efforts to reach our communities in their native language. The committee has been very successful in its mission and last year we decided to broaden our outreach by organizing the first Hispanic Heritage Festival in Janesville.” The publicity this event received led to continued conversations about the degree to which the Janesville community was currently meeting the needs of the Latinx business community.  Later in 2022, bank representatives met with Forward Janesville to discuss additional support opportunities PremierBank could offer the Latinx community in Janesville. Turk said, “when we learned about the Forward Janesville’s Latinx Outreach Program, we were very pleased to commit to be the lead partner. We appreciate other Forward Janesville members who have also stepped up to make this Latinx Outreach Program go from vision to reality. This is about us all coming together to embrace the changing landscape and create a thriving economy for everyone.”

Latinx Council Chair Silvia Donday-Selenske hosted the first council meeting in May 2023 at the Forward Janesville office where members agreed to focus on building business resources and building a stronger sense of community for Latinx businesses.  The Council meets quarterly and is supported by Forward Janesville and Claire Olsen. In July, Forward Janesville will launch its Resource Desk with bilingual services of English/Spanish. It has also begun translation of core documents in Spanish and will begin more intense outreach.

“This would be not possible without the support of PremierBank and our other partners including Whiton House, Beloit Sky Carp, SSM Healthcare, Blackhawk Technical College, Colleen Frentzel American Family Insurance,  and JP Cullen. We look forward to working with the City of Janesville, Janesville School District, BTC, Rock County and many other great organizations who have already been working hard to serve our Latinx population. Forward Janesville has members who offer bilingual services, special programming and other services that support our Spanish speaking population, but we need to get that information into the community. One important point we heard from our Council – this is about building a bridge to better connect all of us,” offered Pakes.

About Latinx Business Council
The Latinx Initiative, Adelante Janesville, will be guided by Forward Janesville’s Consejo Empresarial Latinx (Latinx Business Council). This council is comprised of Latinx business owners and community representatives, and its mission is to uncover ways Forward Janesville can better serve the Latinx/Hispanic Community.  

About Forward Janesville
Forward Janesville leads private sector economic and community development efforts to ensure the continued health and prosperity of business and industry in Janesville and Rock County. For more information, visit:  

About PremierBank
Established 160 years ago in 1863, PremierBank remains a locally owned community bank that prides itself on building strong partnerships with the businesses and residents in Jefferson, Rock, and Walworth counties. PremierBank is committed to serving its customers with personalized service and convenient financial products as a trusted financial partner. For more information, visit: