Debbie Thomas CDP CSEP Emeritus – Hospitality Trainer & SSA Founder
Ms.Thomas is the founder of School for the Service Arts, a service training and development company. Ms.Thomas holds prestigious certifications of Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) Emeritus, Certified Dining Room Professional (CDP) and a BA in Hospitality Management. She is a hospitality trainer, catering consultant, chef, and restaurateur. For more than 35 years, Thomas has worked in the hospitality industry. Now she is teaching and consulting with an emphasis in the food and beverage management arena.
In California, Thomas owned and operated a highly successful farm to table off – premise catering company, earning many industry awards. Upon the sale of her renowned company, she decided to follow her dream of raising the level of hospitality worldwide through classroom learning, global consulting and on line learning in the academic and corporate arenas.
Ms. Thomas is also an adjunct online professor at San Diego Mesa College with Blackboard LMS and Moodle LMS certification.
Alice Conway MBA CSEP
Alice Conway CSEP is an original members of our team. She is a hospitality professor at Stratford University in Falls Church, Virginia. Ms. Conway received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Music Education from The University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music and has a masters in Hospitality Management. She holds the Certified Special Events Professional designation from the International Special Events Society (ISES).
She is the founder and past president of The Greater Washington chapter of ISES and has served for years either on the Board of Directors or the Advisory Board both locally and internationally. She is the former president of ISEF, the educational foundation of ISES, and was a founding member of the Search foundation. She has taught and lectured at universities internationally including those in Korea, the Philippines, Spain, Canada and Trinidad, as well as The University of San Diego, The University of Southern Oregon, Temple University, The University of Arizona, and American University among several.
As a musician and special events professional, she has conducted a community orchestra, a children’s choir, was director of two different community music schools, and toured with a band. She has booked name entertainment and has herself performed as a harpist with numerous musicians from Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, and Crystal Gayle to Igor Stravinsky and John Williams. She has worked for the Marriott and Ritz Carlton chains for over twenty years and is in demand as a harpist and as a producer. She has produced all types of performances from outdoor concerts for over 10,000 people to chamber music concerts for 20 guests.
Pat Golden-Romero M.A. Ed
Pat Golden-Romero is the newest member of our team. She holds a Masters degree in Education, a BS degree in Hotel, Restaurant Management; and an AAS degree in Hotel Technology. With over 20 years of hospitality operational experience, her areas of expertise include: food & beverage; convention services; front office division; guest services; marketing & sales and revenue management. Her instructor credentials include Restaurant POS/Sales & Catering and FOH & BOH software systems.
Golden-Romero has been an Adjunct Professor at San Diego Mesa College for 15 years. Her 30+ year career as an educator has included visiting professor assignments at University of Nevada- Las Vegas and Cal Poly- Pomona. Currently she is a consultant for Mt. San Jacinto College.
Her textbook, Hotel Convention Sales, Services and Operations, has been widely adopted by universities in hospitality, event management programs.
She provides global training solutions and quality assurance service audits for hospitality industry clients.
Chef Sarah Jones is the creator of educational programs for wellness and healthy lifestyles. Ms. Jones has more than 20 years of experience, not only in creating and cooking healthy menus, but also in developing educational programs for health conscious professionals. Ms. Jones trained in England and Europe, refining her skills in International cuisine, while producing innovative wellness programs educating her base in locally sourced ingredients. Ms. Jones grew up on a small farm in rural England, where, on a daily basis, she worked with fresh, organic produce. She came to understand the huge impact that a natural diet has on wellness. It became her mission to share her knowledge with conscientious professionals throughout the world.
SSA is proud to add her skill set to our clienteles’ professional development. Her work experience includes engagements as a personal chef for touring musical groups, including Lenny Kravitz and Def Leppard to cooking for many world-record-holding athletes (names withheld for privacy). She prepares dietary programs and provides education to sustain and energize their bodies naturally through injuries and performance challenges. She is also a personal family chef, creating programs to sustain healthy eating and assisting them to generate their own ongoing health programs for their specific ailments.
She brings a new twist to SSA, as we stay with our mission of raising the standards of service excellence by adding wellness guidelines for hospitality professionals around the globe. Balanced professionals smile from the heart.
Judy Issokson Ph.D Education
Judy Issokson is a wonderful addition to our team. She is Owner and Managing Principal of Issokson & Associates, a consulting group that offers ‘blended solutions for balanced results’ in the areas of Organizational Design, Leadership Development, Change Management, and Performance Consulting.
Judy works with leading organizations in multiple industries to improve leadership performance, align people and processes, identify emerging issues, and assess the effectiveness of organizational interventions. She works directly with executive teams, senior staff, and line managers facing diverse strategic business challenges such as unprecedented growth, dramatic market shifts, mergers and acquisitions, and developing the next generation of leaders. She possesses the capabilities to readily adapt to the dynamics of the engagement—functioning as consultant, coach, facilitator, program designer, or advisor.
Over the past twenty years, Judy has worked with internal and external clients who are eager to align organizational structure to emerging business needs, improve global implementations, define improved strategies for effective transitions, and fine tune business integration processes. Clients appreciate her attention to designing actionable solutions and her willingness to adapt to doing business in their terms.
Judy holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Masters in Education from Northeastern University and a BS in English Education from Boston University. She is certified to facilitate Myers-Briggs assessments, Team Management Systems, and Emotional Competency Inventories.
Judy is a board member-at-large of the OD Network and a member of APT. She is also a charter member of STEP, a consortium of education professionals in Fortune 500 companies.
SSA is pleased to introduce George Franceschi, as our Certified Sommelier and wine educator. Mr. Franceschi is a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators (SWE), and holds a level 3 advanced certification with the Wine & Spirits Educational Trust (WSET). He is also a certified Italian Wine Specialist by the North American Sommelier Association and holds the distinct designation as a Master Tequilier and Catador de Tequila from the Academia Mexicana del Tequila, where he became the 8th Master Tequila, and the 28th Catador de Tequila to be certified in the whole world, in May of 2011.
Mr. Franceschi was also selected to participate in the 2nd Annual Las Vegas Ruinart Chardonnay & Champagne Challenge in February 2011. I could go on! A native of Puerto Rico, Mr. Franceschi’s Latin spirit excites his students with his passion for wine and spirits.
Mr. Franceschi represented Puerto Rico at the DOEMENS 4th Beer Sommelier World Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 18, 2015, (Ranked or Placed 17th out of the top 50 in the World).
Jonnie Fox Flanagan
Jonnie Fox Flanagan is the Founder and Director of The Magnolia School of Etiquette and Protocol and a graduate of the prestigious American School of Protocol in Atlanta, GA.
Ms. Flanagan was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana where she enjoyed exquisite dining at famous and fabulous restaurants such as Brennans, Arnauds, Commander’s Palace, Emeril’s and the original Ruth’s Chris Steak House during her 35 years in the South.
Jonnie’s professional background included media sales for radio, television and print, Corporate Sales Manager for the New Orleans Saenger Performing Arts Theatre and Executive Assistant with the NBA’s former New Orleans Jazz professional basketball team. She also owned a successful mobile DJ/Karaoke entertainment company for twenty years.
Jonnie was inspired by the traditional Southern hospitality, social graces and art of fine dining that permeates the uniquely historic “City of New Orleans” .
The Magnolia School of Etiquette and Protocol opened January 2010 and teaches Social, Business, and Dining Etiquette to children and adults.