Debbie Thomas CDP CSEP Emeritus. Ms.Thomas is the founder of School for the Service Arts, a service training and development company. Ms. Thomas holds prestigious certifications, the Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) Emeritus, the Certified Dining Room Professional (CDP) and a BA in Hospitality Management. She is a hospitality trainer, catering consultant, professor and creator of online catering courses. Thomas has taught hospitality management courses at universities and community colleges for over 10 years. She teaches, facilitates workshops and consults with an emphasis on the food and beverage management. Earning many industry awards in California, Thomas owned and operated a highly successful farm to table off – premise catering company. Upon the sale of her renowned company, she decided to follow her dream to raise the standards of hospitality worldwide through classroom learning, global consulting and online learning in the academic and corporate arenas.
Bill Hansen is the CEO of Bill Hansen Catering, an award winning catering firm. He is a career hospitality professor and a mentor to thousands of hospitality professionals. Bill is a trusted venue event expert having performed over 10,000 events. As a revered textbook author of the University textbook, Off Premise Catering Management, 3rd edition, Bill is a master trainer and consultant. He is on the board of Catersource, the prestigious convention and trade show to over 5,000 catering industry professionals each year in Las Vegas.
Alice Conway CHEP CSEP Emeritus. Alice Conway is an original member of our team. Ms. Conway received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Music Education from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music. She holds a Masters in International Hospitality Management, an MBA from Stratford University and an ED.D (ABD) from George Washington University. She holds the Certified Special Event Professional certification (CSEP Emeritus) and the Certified Higher Education Professional Designation (CHEP). As Director of the Event Management Certificate Programs at George Washington University and Stratford University, she taught all levels of Hospitality and Events from Certificate through Masters at both universities.
She is the founder and past president of The Greater Washington chapter of ILEA, (International Live Event Association), received a Lifetime Achievement Award, and 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 ILEA, and was a founding member of the Search non-profit foundation that helps event professionals in need. She has taught and lectured at universities both nationally and internationally. As a musician and special events professional, she has conducted a community orchestra and 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 name entertainers. She has worked for the Marriott and Ritz Carlton chains for over twenty years and is in demand as a harpist, a consummate educator and a producer of special events.
Pat Golden-Romero MA. Ed. Pat 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. Her 30+ year career as an educator has included administrator and adjunct professorships at multiple universities and colleges. She is a hospitality consultant, recruiter and trainer. 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.
Janet Riccobono CDP CLC. School for the Service Arts (SSA) is proud to welcome our newest trainer to the SSA team. Janet is a Certified Dining Professional and a Certified Life Coach. She trained at the Coach Training Alliance and is a member of the International Coaching Federation. As a 35-year veteran facilitator of Verizon (VZ) customer service training, Janet spent several years creating and producing workshops for new service hires and professionals in continuing educational programs. After retiring from VZ, Janet certified as a life coach and opened her own business,” New Life at Mid Life”; a caring success story that assists women over 40 to reach their greatest potential. Janet began her hospitality career working for Paulette & Rene Macary at La Rive Restaurant in upstate New York with the now famous chef, Thomas Keller, current owner of the French Laundry and Per Se restaurants. Janet and her husband Rob moved to Dunedin, Florida in 2018. Her years as a qualified instructor and trainer make her a great addition to the SSA team.
Kim Alexander CEM CMP. SSA is pleased to welcome Kim Alexander into the SSA family. She is the founder of Wait UP!, which offers a nationally certified job training program within the hospitality industry in the Greater Washington area.The organization was created to re-connect and welcome those with criminal justice involved backgrounds, and others facing employment barriers, back to their communities, by giving them another chance through the context of social enterprise.
Closing the revolving door of recidivism and opening the door of hope and opportunity for all is the philosophy that fuels the vision behind the mission of Wait Up! The organization will serve as a champion of change on a systemic level for those previously involved in the criminal justice system. A recovering addict of 29 years, Kim was given another chance and it is because of this blessing that she founded her non-profit, Wait Up!.
She is active in Corporate Diversity and the African American Employee Business Resource Group. In her association with these non-profit groups, Kim connected her passion for planning events with the desire to help others. She is a former member of the American Marketing Association, the Nationals Alliance of Market Developers and a graduate of the Leadership Greater Washington Effective Leadership Institute.
Sarah Jones. 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.
George Franceschi. 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).
Basil Stergiou CDP. Basil Stergiou is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Hospitality and Service Excellence, a consulting and service training company. His passion, experience and desire to help others excel in this industry provide an unparalleled approach to successful workshops that raise service skills and standards. Mr. Stergiou consults with food service operations to increase their bottom line. As a partner with School for the Service Arts, he holds the prestigious Certified Dining Room Professional (CDP) certification.
Always having a passion for service and dining, Mr. Stergiou started his early career running a lunch counter at a department store. He progressed through the ranks of dishwasher, busser, server, captain, sommelier and Maitre’d, to managing world class restaurants in independent and chain hotels. This includes dining room captain and Asst Maître D’ at the prestigious Mt Washington Hotel. He also was in a management capacity at XV Beacon and Bedford Village Inn. Mr. Stergiou was the Assistant Restaurant Manager for the award-winning restaurant, the Aujourd’ hui, at the Boston Four Seasons Hotel. Basil continues to work with Share our Strength (SOS) to create “Taste of the Nation” in order to give back to the “End Child Hunger in America.”