We are a collection of entrepreneurial-minded, independent and passionate professionals that rally around the ideal, “answer only to our clients and ourselves”.

Below is a sampling of the men and women who steer the ship. Our leaders, mentors and sources of inspiration.

Daniel H. Nelson Jr.


Just about everyone calls him Nelie, but no one calls him lethargic. Always on the go, both professionally and personally, Nelie’s long list of career achievements is only rivaled by his litany of hobbies and activities. A graduate of Stanford University and a Bay Area resident during the Internet’s infancy, Nelie has always had a knowledge and passion for digital communications and technologies. But his professional interests and experience run the entire marketing gamut. From commercial photography, creative direction and account management to planning, strategy development and brand consulting, Nelie has immersed himself in just about every industry pool you can think of. After more than 20 years in the business, Nelie purchased Nelson Schmidt Inc. from his father, Dan Nelson Sr. (or just “Senior” if you see him in the hallway) in 2012, and has continued to propel our agency on an upward trajectory ever since.

After wearing all those hats, you’d think Nelie might spend his rare free time catching up on a little rest. But when he’s not burning the business end of the candle, he’s living life to the fullest, hunting, fishing, boating, diving, skiing, golfing or volunteering as a rescue diver for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Nelie is also an active leader in the community, serving as chairman of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee’s Maritime Committee, which produces the free LIVE @ the Lakefront summer concert series in the Rotary Amphitheater at Discovery World.

Daniel H. Nelson Sr.


Senior, as he’s called around campus, is the former owner of Nelson Schmidt and current owner of legendary status in the world of advertising. At the height of his long and distinguished career in marketing, Senior purchased Nelson Schmidt (formerly the Ken Schmidt Company) in 1988. Throughout the next quarter century, he built the agency into a premier B2B powerhouse. After selling NS to his son in 2012, Senior continues to collaborate with the management team as chairman, helping develop and nurture growth opportunities for both agency and clients.

And if you ever want to hear his gripping tales of advertising’s good ol’ days, the key to Senior’s story vault can be found inside a bottle of fine red wine. As a connoisseur, he’ll probably be able to tell you a few stories about the vino as well.

Cody Pearce

Chief Operating Officer. Proficient Angler. Red Wine Admirer.

Cody takes a sensible, almost poetic approach when it comes to ensuring quality and profitability within the agency. Let’s put it this way, if Nelson Schmidt were a winery, Cody would be both the grapes and the vintner. His favorite thing about NS, you ask? The people – “Gotta love the people you work with or it’s not worth working.” Cody is also a big advocate of getting everyone on board when it comes to the creative process by exploring multiple insights that go deep below the surface–to get the big idea, not just the first idea.

When the working hours come to a close, Cody likes to get out on the water or into the woods. Whether he’s fishing, hunting or enjoying a little soft rock from back in the day (Insert Ambrosia song here) he’s always keeping his eyes open to welcome new, diverse principles. Basically, He’s “never holdin’ on to yesterday.” (Okay, you really have to look up Ambrosia now).

Christopher Vitrano

Chief Marketing Officer. Marriage Broker. Endorphins Devourer.

Chris acts as somewhat of a matchmaker – helping connect what NS is all about to what marketers need from the ideal agency to support and enhance their efforts. He really enjoys being part of an agency that has the abilities, and desire, to serve international clients. When he’s not convincing marketers of our awesomeness, you can often find him chasing that runner’s high (which actually helps him to think more creatively, so run, Chris, run!)

James Jelak

Account Planning & Management Director. Chicken Eater. Cartoon Observer.

Jim’s job has two parts. One, he’s solving our clients’ problems to get them where they want to be, and two, he’s helping to create and lead a fun, supportive culture that gets things done. A true leader, Jim’s job description matches up to his life philosophy,

“When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.” – (Jacques-Yves Cousteau)

When Jim gets a break from leading our team, he enjoys spending time with his family. You’ll either find him getting active outdoors, in the kitchen feasting on his grandma’s chicken paprikash or on the couch with his son, watching their favorite cartoon, Peppa Pig.

Miranda Allison

Marketing Communications Coordinator. Pizza Appreciator. Cabernet Sipper.

Miranda helps keep the agency on the map through the many channels of the web. She steers potential clients over to NS and ultimately assists in creating new business. Miranda enjoys the flexibility of her job and the fact that those with less experience are just as respected as those with more experience. Her creative philosophy says it all:

“It’s so easy to get wrapped up in your head and doubt yourself. Don’t do that. Just let go and think freely.”

When Miranda clocks out, she enjoys binging on Netflix, traveling and ‘wowing’ her associates with her many impersonations. Seriously. You want to hear an inebriated Arnold Schwarzenegger…her desk is on the third floor.

Eric Krueger

Graphic Designer. Hiker. High Octane Beer Drinker.

Eric digs working with the many different clients of NS because there’s always something new and it keeps him on his creative toes. One of the coolest things about Eric (besides his wonderful, natural citrus scent) is the record label he runs. They embrace cassette tapes to promote national and international acts (“mostly werido, small stuff” –in his own words).

When he’s not in design mode at the agency or vibing over his record label, you’ll find Eric with his wife and their son…and if he happens to find a little more time in his already busy schedule, he enjoys camping and getting out in nature.

Lynne Chamberlain

Human Resources Director. Dog Lover. NS Lifer.

Mrs. Lynne Chamberlain is Nelson Schmidt elite. She’s been walking through these agency doors for over 30 years (she was hired when she was 8). Lynne is a fan of the many different personalities here at NS, and that’s a good thing–seeing she’s head of HR and all. She is responsible for planning, directing and coordinating the administration functions within the organization. Lynne is always upbeat and in good spirits. Her life philosophy speaks to her magnetic spirit:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, do more and become more–you are a leader.”

When Lynne switches off ‘work-mode’ and turns on ‘fun-mode’, she and her husband like to hop on their Harley and take off up north to hang out at their cottage with beloved family members. And if Lynne is having quiet time (aka if no one else is around), she’ll enjoy her favorite dish (Pasta Bolognese) while watching her favorite reality show. Now, she won’t tell us which show, so we’ll just have to assume it includes dogs, roses, challenges and boozy drama. Wait. Isn’t that every reality show?

Becky Davidson

Account Director. Baker. Cheesecake Maker.

As an account director, Becky builds harmonious relationships with NS clients. When she’s not leading her team, Becky enjoys getting outdoors and participating in summer activities. When the winter season falls upon Wisconsin, she watches movies and bakes (quote, “cheesecakes are my specialty”). Her creative philosophy speaks to the creativity in all of us:

“Good ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere–be open to explore ideas both independently and as a group.”

If you want to get on Becky’s good side, load up a gift basket with red wine, sweatpants and lasagna. You’ll have a friend for life.

Brooke Etzel

Digital Producer and Project Manager. Water Warrior. Positive Thinker.

The perfect movie quote to describe Brooke is “just keep swimming.” As our Digital Producer and Project Manager, the days can get hectic. But the two things that keep her flowing are positive thinking and water. Brooke’s life philosophy is,

“Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.”

At work, Brooke positioned her desk so she could see the lake from the view. As someone who grew up water skiing, boating and spending family time at their cabin on Lake Tomahawk, water is a vital element that keeps Brooke motivated, creative and helps her see the big picture. Fun fact – Brooke used to live in Florida where she could be on the water everyday if she wanted but gave all that up for winters in Wisconsin and quality time with her young niece and nephew.

Maria Halverson

Media Manager. Passionate Gardner. Popcorn Popper.

Owning the title ‘Media Manager’ at Nelson Schmidt means Maria must be both focused and resourceful when negotiating media buys. What keeps her stoked at work? That’s easy. Maria appreciates having the ability to be flexible with her schedule and working with a solid group of advertising individuals. Maria is an easy-going spirit who enjoys life–one day at a time.

When Maria pushes her media mind aside, she’s likely to ice up a couple of Coors Lights, grab her fishing pole and get outdoors. And when it’s time to relax, you might find Maria chillin’ in front of the television and coaxing her husband to prepare his ‘famous’ grilled chicken. I mean, c’mon. You can’t watch The Bachelorette on an empty stomach now, can you?

Sarah Duchemin

Account Supervisor. Dessert Devourer. Horse Rider.

Sarah is our Account Supervisor, meaning she’s an expert at finding creative solutions to business problems for successful results – creative being the key word. It doesn’t take much to activate Sarah’s creativity, her philosophy being,

“Creativity is all around us. It can come from anybody and takes many different forms.”

When Sarah isn’t thinking about creative solutions, you will likely find her practicing dressage or jumping fences (which we thought meant shopping and hurdles, but apparently has to do with horse training). Sarah also enjoys spending quality time with friends and family who know that a favor only costs four special words – Vanilla Bean Crème Brule.

Spencer Allen

IT Director. Whisky Taster. Bitcoin Trader.

Spencer is the agency “tech guy.” For those that don’t speak tech, we’ll have Spencer explain what he does in his own words.

“If it plugs into a wall, I manage it.” Well said, Spencer.

When he isn’t dealing with agency tech issues or babysitting his non-tech savvy coworkers, Spencer enjoys building electronics and eating chicken paprikash and mint chocolate-chip ice cream. Wouldn’t it be cool if he took his love of electronics and built a robot that could make both mint chocolate-chip ice cream and that Hungarian chicken dish? If the robot could also distill whiskey, we’re sure Spence would have a new best friend.

Clay Konnor

Creative Director. Indian Food Partaker. Board Skater.

If you get a chance, sit down and buy Clay a Ketel One (with soda, twist of lemon) and dive into his many passions, one of which is playing tunes. He’s an accomplished musician who plays in a killer band that performs locally. Steely Dane is a respected tribute band that spills the smooth grooves. This is probably what inspires Clay’s life philosophy:

“Make a life, not a living.”

We got deep and asked Clay what helped him get in a creative mindset, he answered quickly, “Discover one thing of beauty every day”–and then we added–“then you go back, Jack, do it again.”

Allysa Steeno

Office Administrator. Dog Lover. Former Yooper.

Allysa is the glue that keeps the agency together. As our Office Administrator, she calls herself our “go-to gal.” From accounting support to proofreading our final work, Allysa ensures that everything here runs smoothly. Though her job is busy, Allysa’s life philosophy is,

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

To live up to that, Allysa, a transplant from Upper Michigan, loves to explore warm Milwaukee by taking her dog to different parks and enjoying our many festivals, shows and new restaurants. In winter months, you’ll find her vegged out on the couch watching old 80s and 90s comedies – recognize that quote from anywhere?

Michael Spredemann

Digital Developer. Scuba Diver. Beer Explorer.

Michael does what most people can’t–and that’s talk fluent computer. In other words, he’s our resident computer architect. When our clients need ‘web work’ done right, M. Spredemann is the guy. When being a ‘code monkey’ gets a little hectic, Michael likes to step away from his computer and recall the time he fought the American Gladiator champion…and won.

When Michael isn’t working with one of the many teams he supports at NS, he enjoys devouring sushi plates and hanging out with wizards, elves and druids. Yes, one of his guilty pleasures is playing Dungeons and Dragons. We just think the dice are really cool.

Stacy Mallak

Project Manager. Dog Lover. Rockstar Mountaineer.

Stacy’s life philosophy may be, “on an adventure, be back never,” but at NS, she is always present, punctual and prompt. As digital producer and project manager, Stacy develops estimates and schedules to ensure that our clients’ needs are met on time and on budget.

Outside the office, you can find Stacy spending time with her family and her dog. If you can’t find her, she’s probably on an epic quest. Seriously. This woman knows a thing or two about rock climbing.

Scott Penniston

VP Media Services. Outdoor Wanderer. Sushi Destroyer.

On any typical Friday, you’ll find Scott cruising the agency wearing a craft beer branded work shirt and a pair of old school high top Vans. Our VP of Media Services appreciates blending creative and media strategies and working with many different personalities here at NS. Scott is a man who enjoys challenging convention…and music (based on his life philosophy):

“If they attack the car, save the radio.”

When Scott shuts down his computer for the day, he’s known to grab a bottle of Black Husky Milk Stout, maybe a handful of Jelly Belly’s and dive into some collegiate football action. Go Badgers. If you happen to run into Scott, be sure to ask him about the time he almost made it to the Little League World Series. Only missed it by one game.

Alex Wehrley

Public Relations Account Supervisor. Extroverted Invert. Reality TV Spectator.

As PR Account Supervisor, Alex considers herself a storyteller, community builder and content creator – all necessary elements for leading our clients’ public relations efforts. Alex’s creative philosophy is right in line with her job description,

“Speak to your audience, not at them; and ask yourself how you can add value to their lives.”

Alex is a self-described extroverted introvert. In other words, after a long day of being a social butterfly, the only company she wants is that of a Spotted Cow and KUWTK (or The Bachelor, whichever’s on.)

Jaime Moe

Senior Copywriter. Sushi Inhaler. Heavy Machinery Admirer.

Jaime keeps the pages of our agency book turning. Literally. If you ask him what he does at NS, he’ll say “write hundreds of bad ideas to hopefully come up with a good one,” (he’s modest), but that answer is right in line with his creative philosophy:

“Write nonsense and gibberish until it leads you to a good place.”

Just as Jaime holds the power of persuasion with his pen, he sometimes is happy to relinquish that power to others. Promise him sushi, two IPAs and the chance to plow your snow with his Toro Groundsmaster – see how far that gets you!

Jason Petersen

Creative Director. Boy Scout Supporter. Prized Elvis Impersonator.

As one of the fine, outstanding Creative Directors here at Nelson Schmidt, Jason helps lead the creative department in finding unique marketing solutions that will enrapture the NS client roster. When he needs a creative boost, he relies on his past experiences and an inspirational quote from Francis Atterbury (we had to look him up, too):

“It’s attention to detail that makes the difference between average and stunning.”

Once Jason puts aside his thinking cap for the day, he and his wife enjoy spending time with their two sons who are actively involved in the Boy Scouts. When Jason isn’t scouting, he’s likes discussing the science behind the perfect Swedish Meatball.

Cristy Schuenke

Controller. Food Enjoyer. Money Cruncher.

Cristy has probably the most noted job here at Nelson Schmidt. She’s in charge of everything financial within the agency. Expenses. Profits. Wait. That means our paychecks, too. Did I mention Cristy is very charming? She appreciates the many different personalities that make up Nelson Schmidt, which can speak to her creative philosophy:

“Keep it balanced.”

When Cristy is not taking care of the agency numbers, she enjoys eating a lot of food and spending time with her family.

Danielle Brockman

Copywriter. Animal Lover. Bee Sting Avoider.

Ask what Danielle does at NS, she’ll simply answer, “I write things.” Well said, Danielle–it’s organic, yet to the point. She enjoys the independence NS offers its creatives. When she needs to get into a creative mindset, Danielle likes to switch up environments and her music selection. She adheres to a proper creative philosophy:

“Take notes. Every little idea can lead to something greater.”

Spoken like a true writer. After Danielle turns off her office light, she enjoys her two dogs and two cats, traveling and pouring a Captain and Coke while thinking of creative ways to combine her two favorite foods–pizza and mashed potatoes.

Scott Lawson

Creative Director. Outdoor Reveler. Mountain Dew Quaffer.

Scott, AKA ‘The Candy Man’, is known to lead the other creatives in developing engaging and visually stunning storytelling pieces. He’s also been known to deal out sweets to fellow sugar-addicted co-workers. So, yeah…he’s popular here. Scott uses his surroundings to get the creative boost he needs. Music. Movies. Life. It all complements his personal philosophy:

“Man is defined by what he does when he thinks nobody is watching.”

When Scott isn’t giving creative direction to the other ad savants, he gets lost in bad B movies and video games. He also appreciates the outdoors. His poetic adventures allow him to take spectacular photos. No lie. His Instagram is on point.

Abby Vogt

Office Administrator. Shopping Advocator. Money Waster.

As an Office Administrator, Abby is known to wear many different hats at the agency. And if you asked her, she would tell you that’s a good thing. She’s taken an interest in learning more about the marketing business and the role advertising plays in the promotion of goods and/or services. Her passion for her work speaks to her life philosophy:

“Live life to the fullest.”

When Abby punches out for the day, she enjoys sipping coffee, eating pizza and planning her adventure in becoming a permanent resident of Costa Rica. Wait. Come to think of it. Should Nelson Schmidt open a Central American satellite office?

Eric Spredemann

Jr. Interactive Developer. Dexter Binge-and-Repeater. Pizza and Beer Tester.

One word to describe Eric? Concise. Ask him what his job is here at NS and he’ll say,

“I update websites.”

Unlike most people, Eric is bilingual in English and computer. Match those skills with concision and you have the perfect person to help address our clients’ web-based marketing needs.

In his spare time, Eric is usually entertained by a serial killer – that is, he likes to watch the series, Dexter with a beer in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other. Hold the anchovies though.

Kimberly Panagis

Account Executive. Traveler. Ballet Dancer.

If you see Kim bebopping around the agency, odds are she’s going to have a smile on her face, a cup of coffee in her hand and some random 90’s R&B tune playing smoothly in her head. And that’s No Diggity (see what we did there?). With Kim being the liaison between client and creative, her work philosophy speaks well to the elements of her job:

“It’s important to strive to find the why in whatever you’re doing and stand for something.”

When Kim isn’t exploring the mindsets of NS clients, she’s outside–camping, hiking and enjoying apples and peanut butter in the comfort of nature.

Sabrina Karani

User Experience Design Director. World Traveler. Lifelong Learner.

As our User Experience Design Director, Sabrina is basically master of the web. User experience, graphic design, web development, search marketing strategy – she does it all. Even as a master, Sabrina still strives to learn more. Her creative philosophy is,

“Never assume that you know everything, you never will, so keep learning.”

When Sabrina isn’t learning the latest tricks of the trade, she’s probably on a trip. She’s visited 24 countries so far and still has others to check off her bucket list. Her favorite? Well, you’ll have to ask for yourself.

Robert Knuth

Graphic Designer. Soccer Player. Pig Admirer.

When Robert isn’t telling us about the many different eyebrow rings he wore before his marriage, he’s combing typography and images that create custom designs for our clients. Robert appreciates the collaborative atmosphere at NS, it helps get him in a zone that dares him to constantly push boundaries. It speaks to his life philosophy:

“I’ll try anything once.”

Really, Robert? Anything? This should make for some fun times on the second floor. When Robert isn’t making pretty pictures at NS, he spends time with his wife and three lovely daughters, taking stunning photos and drinking craft beers.

Alan Herrera

Digital Marketing Strategist. Gym Enthusiast. Tropical Restaurateur.

He’s more than just the Google Ads guy here at Nelson Schmidt. Alan is a Digital Marketing Strategist who enjoys hiking and being outdoors with his dog Bambino. His creative philosophy is simple:

“Adapt or get left behind. Learn new skill sets and stay current within the world of technology. In short, never stop learning.”

Little known fact about Mr. Herrera–not only is he a top-notch digital marketer, he’s also part-owner of a successful local bar and grill that has a Caribbean twist. How do we know this? We Googled it.

Jason Gantner

Production Manager. Awarded Actor. BBQ Eater.

If you walk by Jason’s office, you might hear the echoes of “Take a Chance on Me” by ABBA–admittedly one of Jason’s guilty pleasures. Jason likes getting in the mix here at NS. The flexibility within the agency doesn’t keep Jason tied down to his desk and collaborating with the team helps him produce timelines and budgets for concepts crafted by the folks in the creative department. Which brings us to his creative philosophy:

“No matter what the budget or timeline anything’s possible”

When Jason isn’t taming the production beast, you can find him with his family and attending their athletic extracurricular activities.