Chief Operations and Risk Officer

Determined, Short (in terms of height), Selective

Kathleen Bruegenhemke’s parents owned a car wash, and as a young girl, Kathleen’s favorite part of the day was when her dad would come home with cans of change that he let Kathleen count out and roll up. “I grew up counting money!” Kathleen says. “I learned at an early age all of the interesting inferences that can be picked up from reading checks.”
The quarter counting boded well for Kathleen’s future career; she’s now the chief operations and risk officer for Hawthorn Bank, a publicly traded company with 24 locations throughout the state – Kathleen is also the first female member of the bank’s board of directors. She takes the mission of a publicly traded company to heart, seeing the value that a “piece of the rock” can have to shareholders and customers.
“It makes you run it like you own it,” she says. “Every strategic decision that Hawthorn Bank makes balances the interests of our customers, employees, and shareholders. We’re celebrating our 151st anniversary this year, and that longevity doesn’t happen by accident.”
Kathleen believes in the value of hard work for its own intrinsic reward – “The reward of a thing well done is having done it,” a Ralph Waldo Emerson line, is one of her favorite quotes. As a girl who grew up counting and rolling quarters, to lead both a public company and the community’s finances is a dream come true.