In conjunction with Project Reach, TEMPO Madison Past President and Project Reach Steering Committee member Shana Lewis had the opportunity to interview Michelle about her journey to this new corporate/business board position.
About Michelle Behnke, Elected to Capitol Bank’s Board of Directors September 2020
In September 2020, TEMPO Madison member Michelle Behnke was elected to the Board of Directors for Capitol Bank, a community bank serving the Madison, Wisconsin community.
Michelle is the principal of Michelle Behnke & Associates in Madison, a legal firm specializing in business law, real estate law, and estate planning services. She earned her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and University of Wisconsin Law School, respectively.
Michelle has spent her career giving back to the community through board positions and volunteerism. She served as President and Treasurer of the State Bar of Wisconsin, as well as Treasurer and Board of Governors members for the American Bar Association. Michelle previously served on the Boards for the SSM Healthcare of Wisconsin, Inc., the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, and Madison Community Development Corporation.
Michelle joined TEMPO Madison in part due to the Project REACH, our initiative to educate, network, and position women for corporate/business boards. She is passionate about encouraging women to see themselves as suitable candidates for corporate and business board positions.
Michelle recognizes that most corporate and business boards fill vacancies with the contacts of current board members; indeed, that is how she earned her position on Capitol Bank’s Board. Within the last few years, she received phone calls from a couple of members of the Capitol Bank Board asking about her legal practice and work in the community. Until earlier this year, when she learned that Capitol Bank was considering her for a Board position, she did not realize those calls were part of a lengthy vetting process; the Board members preparing their list of qualified candidates. Michelle commented that this experience confirmed for her that all types of networking and referral discussions could lead to a Board position.
Michelle asked Capitol Bank why she appealed to them as a board candidate. She was pleased to hear that they viewed her non-profit Board service as a real asset. Capitol Bank saw her community connections and experience working on a Board as major strengths. Indeed, in Capitol Bank’s press release announcing Michelle’s appointment, Ken Thompson, president and CEO of Capitol Bank, said: “Michelle’s experience as a business owner and 30 years of practicing law, along with her active leadership in our community, will provide invaluable insight to future strategic initiatives.”
When Michelle was considering the offer from Capitol Bank to join their Board, she asked a lot of questions about the responsibilities of Board members and the culture of the Board. She wanted to make sure it was the right fit for her, especially given that she would be the first woman to serve on the Board. Clearly, Capitol Bank demonstrated to Michelle that their priorities aligned with hers. She is looking forward to making tangible contributions to the present and future at Capitol Bank through her work on several committees, including the governance committee.
Michelle looks forward to connecting with other TEMPO Madison members, who are considering corporate or business board service, as well as those who are already serving. She wants to remind TEMPO Madison members to explore corporate and business board service for entities in and around Dane County. There are many boards seeking to fill vacancies and many TEMPO Madison members have the skills and experience necessary to be serious candidates.