Our Story

Experience the People First difference.

What makes us different is not the systems we use or the size of our buildings; it’s our people. Our People First values represent the heartbeat of our organization. It is the steady drum that has and always will drive our decisions and how we treat people.

People First. Banking Second.

Choice is more than just a bank. Our People First approach to financial services starts with your best interests in mind. We work alongside you to achieve your goals and celebrate your growth. Your success is our success.

At Choice Bank, our customers are at the heart of every decision we make. We pride ourselves on being more than just a financial institution; we are trusted advisors crafting financial solutions tailored to each customer’s unique needs. Our commitment to your success drives us to deliver excellence across many commercial industries with unparalleled expertise.

We are a supportive team of trusted partners who take the time to understand your aspirations and challenges ensuring every service—from banking and insurance to employee benefits planning and risk mitigation—is aligned with your goals.

Since our inception in November 2001, Choice Bank has grown from a passionate group of small town banks into an influential force with over $5 billion in assets, 500 team members working in our 20 locations and virtually across 22 states, and serving customers across all 50 states. Choice Bank has since been recognized as one of the fastest-growing banks in America and one of the best banks to work for in the U.S.

By continuing to invest in people and technology, Choice has continued to evolve into a leading Banking as a Service  sponsor bank, delivering flexible and accessible online banking services with a People First approach globally. We partner with Fintechs that share Choice’s passion for serving our communities and those who do not have accessible banking services. This presents an incredible opportunity for Choice Bank to extend our community banking heart to a global scale. Yet, as we evolve, Choice Bank’s dedication to our local footprint and serving businesses and farmers in our communities remains steadfast. We are proud to be a Top Ag Bank in North Dakota since 2011.

Choice Bank is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life and economic viability of families and businesses in the communities we serve. Through our annual fundraising events, charitable giving, Child Care Grant Program, Wishing Well program, and nonprofit and foundation partnerships, investing in our communities and bettering the places we live has always been our primary focus.

Where We Come From

Guided by our People First approach — we’re proud that our roots are local, decisions are local, and our leadership is local in each of our 20 locations across North Dakota and Minnesota. From the moment we were established, Choice Bank has remained true to our community banking roots as we’ve grown to a bank with $5 billion in assets.

Humble Beginnings

Choice Bank began in 2001 with the merger of four local banks: Citizens State Bank Grafton-Petersburg (located in Grafton and Petersburg), First Capital Bank of North Dakota (located in West Fargo and Goodrich), First State Bank Langdon, and Walhalla State Bank. Each local bank was known for its strong community banking culture. These four banks came together with a goal to do banking differently, to be trusted partners helping customers discover and realize their goals, and to put people first. With this #PeopleFirst promise, we have since evolved from our small-town roots into an innovative team serving global markets.

Growth in North Dakota

In 2004, we expanded to Grand Forks and began investing in this vibrant community. We provided specialized funding to the Grand Forks Park District in 2008 for the development of the region’s premier wellness center, Choice Health & Fitness.

We opened our first Fargo location in 2006. Coupled with our West Fargo location, we continued to enhance our presence in this area.

In 2014, Great Plains National Bank joined Choice Bank with locations in Dickinson, Belfield, South Heart, LaMoure, and Ellendale. At this time our assets totaled $210 million. This partnership allowed us to expand our footprint into western North Dakota as we opened a location in Bismarck and expanded our insurance team in Dickinson and Fargo.

In 2015, we enhanced our financial services with the acquisition of Northland Financial and Fremling & Associates and a partnership with Great Plains Financial Group. Northland Financial enabled us to expand our presence in Bismarck and the surrounding communities. With this expansion, Choice became the sixth-largest community banking organization by asset size in North Dakota.

Fremling & Associates was a Fargo-based financial services company that had been serving the region since 1996. Their expertise in comprehensive employee benefit plans helped us enable our growing commercial customers to offer their employees competitive benefit plans.

Great Plains Financial Group, now Choice Wealth, has been advising clients since 2002 with a full suite of financial management services including estate planning, financial planning, retirement planning, and life insurance.

Expansion into Minnesota

In 2018, our path of growth led us into the Twin Cities through a partnership with Venture Bank. With locations in Bloomington, Eagan, Golden Valley, and Roseville, this partnership allowed us to provide our #PeopleFirst service to a new and exciting Minnesota market and expand our resources in existing markets. By uniting Choice’s #PeopleFirst approach and Venture’s Small is Powerful focus, together as Choice we became one of the region’s top SBA lenders and acquired the assets to help our commercial customer continue to grow.

Our 2019 partnership with Northern Capital Insurance Group expanded our insurance expertise and presence in the Twin Cities market. Northern Capital Insurance Group’s team of over 35 experienced agents brought our current insurance coverage to over 11,000 clients in 43 states.

In 2019, we continued our expansion into Minnesota with the opening of a new Choice Bank location in Moorhead. This new location is a full-service bank that offers services from our home loans, insurance, and wealth management divisions.

Advancement into Global Banking

Choice Bank remains dedicated to bettering the places we live. Now one of those places is the digital community as more consumers prefer to do their banking online.

With Choice’s expansion into the Banking as a Service industry, we began to provide banking services to Fintech (Financial Technology) companies globally. Choice Bank partnered with Lively in 2018, an online Health Savings Account (HSA) platform for employers and individuals. The foundation for Lively began with the shocking realization of how much health care could cost even with the assistance of programs such as Medicare. The founders wanted to make it easier for people to open and manage their HSAs, meaning it had to be a digital-native product. Due to these innovations, Lively is now known as one of the top-rated HSA providers in the industry.

In 2018, Choice partnered with Current, a leading U.S. financial technology platform serving the needs of Americans who are working to create a better future for themselves. They offer a debit card and savings account that is more affordable and accessible to serve those who are underbanked.

In 2020, Choice partnered with Mercury and developed the first-of-its-kind virtual FedLine Direct connection, which allows us to send wire transfer requests directly to the Federal Reserve. Mercury’s mission is to make banking better for startups. Choice Bank supports its software that runs all of a startup business’s financial operations from one account.

Through our relationships with these Fintech companies, Choice can offer more services to our commercial and consumer customers and financial solutions uniquely tailored to each customer.

As we have grown, our People First values have remained at the heart of everything we do. To us, that means making genuine connections through passionate and empowered people. Putting people first drives our everyday decisions and influences how we treat our customers, colleagues, and community. Learn more about Choice’s rich history here.

Guided by our People First approach—we’re proud that our roots are local, decisions are local and our leadership is local. Our executive team and board of directors are represented in communities throughout our footprint and are the ones that lead our innovation and drive our passion.

Our board of directors are comprised of entrepreneurs and experienced bankers that help support the foundation of our organization. They are individuals that recognize there was a better way to do banking and are committed to supporting and expanding the People First way.

Meet our Leadership Team     Meet our Board of Directors


Our Story

Core Values

Better the places we live.

Embrace change and encourage innovation.

Know when to ask for help and know when to offer help.

Work hard. Do the right thing. Have a little fun!

Our Core Values in Action

Like what you see?

Join our team!

We need amazing people to deliver our #PeopleFirst style of banking. Our employees support our customers, and each other, every day. We firmly believe it begins with our culture, our values, and our benefits. Check out our current openings.

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Community Involvement

Bettering the Places We Live

We’re dedicated to enhancing the quality of life and economic viability of local families and businesses.  Through our annual hospice events, charitable giving campaigns, and our partnerships with programs that provide financial assistance in low-to-moderate income areas and underserved markets, reinvesting in our communities has always been a focus of ours. And we are so proud to have employees dedicated to giving back.
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Leadership Team

Travis Barkve

Chief Strategy Officer

Golden Valley, MN

sam berg headshot

Samantha Berg

Chief Human Resources Officer

Grand Forks, ND

Mike Boub Headshot

Mike Boub

EVP, Financial Services & President of Choice Insurance

Fargo, ND

Jim Brefeld

Treasurer, Chief Investment Officer

Golden Valley, MN

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Molly Cook

Chief Risk Officer

Golden Valley, MN


Lisa Dow

Director of Corporate Relations

Fargo, ND

Dan Dvorak

Chief Legal Counsel

Golden Valley, MN

Barry Fife

Chief Credit Officer

Fargo, ND

John Fritz Headshot

John Fritz

Regional Banking President

Golden Valley, MN

Crystal Gateley

SVP, Controller

Bloomington, MN

Tony Gudajtes Headshot

Tony Gudajtes

Regional Banking President

Grafton, ND

Tim Heilman

Tim Heilman

Chief Innovation Officer

Fargo, ND

Cheryl Highstreet

Director of BaaS Operations

Tom Jasper

Tom Jasper

Chief Operating Officer

Golden Valley, MN

Brian Johnson headshot

Brian L. Johnson

Chief Executive Officer

Grand Forks, ND

Brian P Johnson Headshot

Brian P. Johnson

Chief Banking Officer

Golden Valley, MN

Chris Kildahl headshot

Chris Kildahl

Chief Financial Officer

Fargo, ND

Chuck Klabo

Director of Insurance

Fargo, ND

Jay Lies headshot

Jay Lies

Chief Banking Officer

Fargo, ND

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Mandy Sheeley

Chief Operations Officer

Fargo, ND


Shikhar Singh

Chief Technology Officer

Golden Valley, MN

Jodi Vander Hoek

Chief Audit Officer

Bismarck, ND

Board of Directors

Jason Bristow


Kristi Carlson


Paymon Farazi


Brian Johnson headshot

Brian L. Johnson


Rodger Johnson



Lauris Molbert


Candace Muggerud


Marie Pillai


Clay Swanson


George Wald Headshot

George Wald


John Wernz


Mike Zenk Headshot

Mike Zenk