Even as a former bank employee, Ed Zabinski still has a very active schedule. He is a husband, father, uncle, grandfather, entrepreneur, consultant, community volunteer, outdoor enthusiast and artist.
Ed grew up the oldest of seven children on a lake a few miles north of Ely. “My dad was a teacher and my mother kept all of us in line day in and day out,” said Ed. Whether it was intended or not, as the oldest child in a large family, Ed had—or took— some quasi-parental duties. There were seven children in a nine-year span, so he was very involved in helping with household chores. “My ‘helpfulness’—a blessing and a curse if I listen to my own children—was probably kindled during my early years as the oldest child,” Ed explained. There was never a shortage of work to do, and that undoubtedly helped form him.
Being helpful and accomplishing things inspire Ed. “I am an extrovert, so being with people energizes me generally,” said Ed. He explained being outdoors also inspires him; seeing places of natural beauty is awe-inspiring.
Ed’s hobbies include bicycling, canoeing, playing handball, playing bridge, photography and traveling. Most of these are active hobbies, but he enjoys sinking into a good book and watching movies, too, two activities that are anything but physically active.
“As I look at my life, I would have to conclude that being a community volunteer must be a hobby, too,” Ed mentioned, “My involvement in a number of community organizations has been long-standing, and I enjoy making a difference by contributing to causes that are bigger than myself.”
Ed says he’s been fortunate to have volunteered for many community organizations. Besides the City Council, he’s served on the board of the Northland Foundation and Northspan, both headquartered in Duluth. However, most of his volunteer service has been with organizations in the Grand Rapids area: the Itasca County Family YMCA, United Way, Reading Corps, and many others.
Ed earned three degrees. He received an Associate of Arts degree at Vermillion Community College in Ely; a bachelor’s degree in government at St. John’s University (Collegeville); and a master’s degree in public affairs from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Steve Wilcox invited Ed to join the GRSB board of directors in 1996. He worked for a half-year in 2007 as a human resources consultant, and then was offered a staff position on a full-time basis beginning in January 2008.
Until the end of 2016, Ed was employed at GRSB. He resigned his position as senior vice president to pursue other interests. “As far as careers go, I’ve had three or four different opportunities, and I don’t think I’m done yet.” Ed works as a management consultant and is very involved in a couple of new ventures, including starting up a brewery/restaurant in downtown Grand Rapids.