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Respected strategic marketer Marcy Tessmann is the new chief executive officer of C.O.nxt, a Hartland, Wisconsin-based communications agency serving purpose-driven brands in food and agriculture. She succeeds Mark Gale, who continues as C.O.nxt chief growth officer and chairman of the agency’s employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) board.

The moves are part of a long-term plan for the agency, founded in 1992 as Charleston│Orwig and rebranded as C.O.nxt in 2020. The leadership structure aligns with the organization’s ongoing evolution to connect create, advance and protect organizations and brands across the food system.

As Tessmann and Gale take on new responsibilities in managing the agency, they will continue to be a part of and work closely with the C.O.nxt senior leadership team. Those team members are Brittany Unterweger, vice president client services; Jennifer Wallace, vice president creative services; Amy Groeschel, director of operations; and Tracey Nycz, controller.

Strategic focus areas
“I’m excited for the future of C.O.nxt,” says Tessmann. “Through the challenges of the global pandemic, we’ve continued to hold to our mission of being a valuable partner as we help our clients successfully navigate new marketing realities. Moving forward, we will continue to build on our four strategic focus areas: brand strategy and development, campaigns and communications, sustainability and corporate social responsibility, and crisis and risk management.”

At C.O.nxt, Tessmann built a strong strategic reputation while leading planning, branding and reputation-building initiatives for clients in production agriculture as well as for consumer-facing food brands. She joined the agency in 2001, working in various client services roles before rising to vice president and partner in 2010 and president in 2013.

Tessmann serves on several industry and community boards, including the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation and Wisconsin 4-H Foundation. She is an active member of TAAN Worldwide, the world’s oldest and largest network of independent advertising and communications agencies.

Transition to ESOP
As chief growth officer at C.O.nxt, Gale will focus on new business development and continue to host the popular Five in 15 webinar series. During his tenure as CEO, Gale guided C.O.nxt through a transition from a firm owned by three individual partners to a 100 percent employee-owned company with a focus on the entire food system. The agency’s ESOP formed in 2018.

“I’m proud to have been the steward of the transformation of C.O.nxt from a closely held firm to an ESOP,” says Gale. “Employee ownership is paramount for our culture. It’s exciting to be a part of an organization where every team member truly has a stake in each other’s success.”

A leader with more than 30 years’ experience at Milwaukee-area advertising agencies, Gale joined C.O.nxt in 2003 as executive vice president and creative director.

About C.O.nxt
C.O.nxt is a 100 percent employee-owned communications agency full of farm kids and foodies coming together to passionately connect and advance the industries, communities and lifestyles of food and ag. We aim to be food system champions, renowned for our industry expertise, business guidance and brand innovation. Full service. Full hearts. For the love of food. For more information visit