Brand marketing and communications agency Greenough Communications has named Nikki Festa O’Brien as its new CEO, effective at the start of this year.

Former CEO and founder Phil Greenough is transitioning to executive chairman, a role in which he will consult with clients. 

The first woman to lead the agency, Festa O’Brien continues to run the operations and growth of the firm while also serving as chief communications consultant for the agency’s portfolio of clients. The firm will not replace her as president. 

“I’ve always placed a really high value on creativity, and that’s something I’ve instilled with the team,” she said. Festa O’Brien’s immediate plans are to rethink the agency model and move toward creating a group of experienced senior consultants who are “true partners” to clients.  

Her appointment of Nicole Murphy as EVP and head of client relations in August embodies the type of talent Greenough is looking to bring in, Festa O’Brien said, specifically because of her in-house experience in addition to her strong agency background. 

Festa O’Brien joined Greenough as president in 2022, and the succession plan has been in place since then, she said.  

Prior to Greenough, Festa O’Brien worked at PAN Communications for more than 11 years in multiple roles, most recently as EVP. 

Coming off the World Economic Forum in Davos, Greenough is expecting growth in its energy and climate tech practice this year, she said, and the firm intends to continue to pursue clients in that space. 

Festa O’Brien highlighted venture capital firm General Catalyst’s acquisition of Summa Health as an “exciting” development, expanding access to affordable care in a different way. 

“I’m excited to see that IPOs are back on the board,” Festa O’Brien said. “A big goal would be to represent a couple companies that are going to list in the next couple of years while also continuing to lift up those disruptive startups that become the fabric of the future global economy.”

Greenough is a brand marketing and communications agency based in Watertown, Massachusetts, that specializes in healthcare, life sciences, technology and business services. Recent additions to the agency’s roster of clients include renewable energy company Ameresco, nonprofit educational foundation BioBuilder and insurance agency CorVel. The firm is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

This article originally appeared on PRWeek US.