President & CEO
Debra Schiff is the President and founder of the J Street Group, LLC. She has more than 45 years of event management and protocol expertise in the United States and abroad. Mrs. Schiff is no stranger to working with the highest level of government officials, business executives, academics, innovators, media, celebrities, entertainers, and athletes, and is valued by her clients as a trusted confidant to produce events with the utmost confidence and discretion.
J Street Group is known as one of Washington, D.C.’s premiere event production and destination management companies as highlighted in Washington Business Journal. The Washington Business Journal named J Street Group as one of the top 20 event planners in Washington, DC. Understandably, Mrs. Schiff is one of the most sought-after event planners in the United States and abroad. She has uniquely created a full-service boutique firm that specializes in providing meticulous planning services while focusing on the participant experience.
Mrs. Schiff’s prior consulting firm, Debra Schiff & Company, advised clients such as General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, on a complete range of event management services, including event production and destination management.
Mrs. Schiff’s tenure at the U.S. Department of State, where she served as Assistant Chief of Protocol, has allowed her to become one of the few experts in the United States versed in international protocol matters and the details that go along with producing functions for world leaders by creating frameworks for successful diplomacy and engagements. Working with style and elegance and acute attention to detail, she planned and executed official and ceremonial events honoring foreign dignitaries, heads of state, members of Congress and VIPs on behalf of President Clinton, Vice President Gore and Secretary of State Albright. Mrs. Schiff was also instrumental in the planning and oversight of sensitive and highly visible events for the Middle-East Peace Talks at Wye River, Shepherdstown, Camp David and NATO 50 festivities.
Mrs. Schiff also has had the unique opportunity to be a member of the core Oval Office Operations staff in The West Wing of the Executive Office of the President of the United States. She was also liaison with the travel industry and the White House Travel Office, she traveled with the President and the White House Press Corps.
Based in Washington, D.C., Mrs. Schiff hails from the Lone Star state where she has held various management positions in the airline industry and owned a successful advertising specialty business. She also serves on the board of the Peace Entertainment Project (PEP) and is actively involved with the Lombardi Cancer Center, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Child Rite, American Heart Association and many other charitable organizations. She is married to James H. Schiff.
Deputy & Founding Member of International Events & Security Consultants (IESC)
Susan Ralston is an event project manager with JSG and has consulting experience developing strategic partnerships between the public and private sectors, developing and managing public affairs and public relations activities with a strong background in project management, outreach, coalition building and event management. With eight years of government affairs experience and six years of high-level executive branch experience, Ms. Ralston is uniquely qualified to manage complex and large-scale events. Most recently, Ms. Ralston was the Special Assistant to the President and a deputy to the Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor at The White House. She was responsible for managing the activities that comprised the Office of the Senior Advisor, including the development of policy, strategic planning, political affairs, public liaison, and intergovernmental affairs efforts of the White House. She was also responsible for managing the domestic issue campaigns, including Education, Healthcare, Social Security, Immigration, Energy, Budget and Economy, Environment, National Security, Iraq, Global Diplomacy and the Gulf Coast, as well as the development and production of presidential and major surrogate events.
As a Filipino-American, Ms. Ralston was actively involved in the strategic planning and Asian Pacific American outreach efforts of the White House, including the creation of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. She was a member of the Presidential Delegation to attend the Inauguration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, of the Republic of the Philippines, in June 2004. During the 2004 re-election campaign, Ms. Ralston was the White House Liaison to Bush-Cheney ’04, coordinating the activities between the two entities. She also served on the Advisory Committee for “W Stands for Women,” the campaign’s outreach effort to women. Prior to her public service, Ms. Ralston was the Assistant Director of Governmental Affairs at Greenberg Traurig and has also worked for the lobbying firm of Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, LLP.
USSS Founder & Founding Member of International Events and Security Consultants (IESC)
Joe Funk, President of US Safety & Security, LLC is responsible overseeing all daily operations including all domestic investigations, physical security and executive protection.
Mr. Funk is a twenty-one year veteran of the United States Secret Service, completing his career as the Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge of the Washington DC Field Office. Mr. Funk’s career with the U. S. Secret Service was equally divided between criminal investigations and executive protection.
During his career Mr. Funk spent over eight years assigned to the protection details of Presidents George H. Bush and William J. Clinton. He was assigned to the protection of numerous foreign Heads of State. Mr. Funk spent three & half years assigned to the elite Secret Service Counter Assault Team attaining the rank of Team Leader. He has extensive experience and knowledge in providing executive protection and conducting complex security assessments and surveys. Mr. Funk has received extensive training and experience in counter terrorism tactics. Among his accomplishments was the security director for the 50th N.A.T.O. Conference and two Presidential Inaugurations. His latest clients include Senator Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
Mr. Funk also gained valuable experience, training and knowledge in conducting complex multi- jurisdictional criminal investigations. At the time of his retirement Mr. Funk was the supervisor for the Washington Field Office Metro Area Fraud Task Force. For his efforts Mr. Funk has received numerous awards from the U.S. Secret Service, local financial institutions, the U.S. Attorneys office’s in Maryland, Washington and Virginia as well as numerous civic organizations.
Director of Event Operations & Management
Kelsey H. Robinson joined J Street Group in 2016 as the Director of Event Operations & Management. Prior to joining J Street Group, Mrs. Robinson was the Conference Manager at the American Retirement Association (ARA), a national organization of retirement plan professionals. During her six years at ARA, Mrs. Robinson organized and implemented a variety of large and small conferences and her primary responsibilities included leading volunteer committees to develop conference agendas, securing venue contracts, creating and monitoring budgets and coordinating outreach efforts with the marketing department.
In addition to her experience, she earned the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation in 2014. Previously, she was an intern on Capitol Hill for Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA).
Mrs. Robinson graduated from the College of Charleston earning a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing. She was a member of the Chi Omega sorority and served as the social chair her junior year. Currently, she is on the Board of Directors for the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D.C. and is actively involved in organizing social and philanthropic events for the club. Mrs. Robinson resides in Washington, D.C. with her husband, Nick.
Event Producer & Creative Lead
Alexandra Peters joined J Street Group as an intern in June 2015 and was quickly promoted to Event Manager. Since joining J Street Group, Ms. Peters has assisted with several events for corporate and non-profit clients.
Prior to joining J Street Group, Ms. Peters graduated magna cum laude from the University of Alabama earning a B.S in Human Environmental Science with a concentration in meeting and event planning. At Alabama, Ms. Peters was captain of the Dance Team and a member of the Kappa Delta Sorority, the Golden Key International Honor Society, and the Phi Sigma Theta and Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Societies.
Ms. Peters was actively involved in philanthropic events at the University of Alabama, where she was responsible for soliciting sponsors, recruiting participants and volunteers, fundraising, and managing event logistics. Ms. Peters also worked at Alabama’s University Club, and has experience in all aspects of operations and management, including certification as a ServSafe Food Protection Manager. A Virginia native, Ms. Peters is happy to be back in the Washington, D.C. area.