In 1985, two distinguished public servants formed Lyng & Lesher, a food and agriculture consulting firm that would later become the Russell Group. Today we set the standard for food and agriculture government affairs services, while carrying forth the spirit and commitment that personified our founders and defined our earliest days.
Prior to founding Lyng & Lesher, Dick Lyng held leading positions in the agriculture industry and with both the Nixon and Reagan Administrations, culminating in his appointment by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 to Secretary of Agriculture, where he served until the end of Reagan’s term in 1989.
Bill Lesher served as a Legislative Assistant to Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), then worked for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry as the Committee’s Chief Economist. Prior to forming the firm with Lyng, Bill served as the Assistant Secretary for Economics in the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981 to 1985.
Randy Russell joined Bill in 1986 and together he and the team continue our legacy by contributing decades of experience in Congress, Administrations, and the private sector. We provide our clients with experience and credibility on both sides of the aisle. For over 30 years, the Russell Group has worked on hundreds of government relations issues including legislation, appropriations, and regulations across the federal government.
We believe that people are the foundation of our government and care deeply how that government affects your business. There is no substitute for personal knowledge and experience.
This is why our philosophy remains simple and straightforward: proven, professional, personal.
Meet Our Team
Randy Russell was born and raised in Virginia. Prior to joining the firm in 1986, Randy served in a number of agricultural policy positions, both inside and outside of government, including Chief of Staff for Secretary of Agriculture John R. Block, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economics at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Vice President for Agriculture and Trade Policy at the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Director of Government Relations for The Pillsbury Company, and the 1981 Farm Bill Coordinator for USDA. Randy also served on the Senate Agriculture Committee staff for former Senator Rudy Boschwitz (R-MN).
Randy attended George Mason University where he did both his undergraduate studies in Public Administration and graduate studies in Economics. He is a proud member of GMU’s baseball team, where he played catcher.
Randy currently serves as Chairman of the Board and is on the Executive Committee for the World Food Program USA, which raises awareness and funding to fight hunger around the world. The World Food Program was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work addressing global hunger. He has also been actively involved in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program in Northern Virginia. He was a Big Brother for ten years and was named President, Vice President and Treasurer of the Northern Virginia Council of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and served on the Board of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the National Capital Area. Randy is also on the Board of Governors of the Bryce Harlow Foundation, encouraging the highest standards for professional lobbying and government affairs, and has and continues to serve as a mentor for fellowship recipients interested in going into advocacy.
Randy and his wife, Beth, live in McLean, VA, and have six children. The Russells are co-founders of The Golden Phoenix Foundation, working to address the issue of childhood abandonment around the world. He and Beth are also active members of the National Council for Adoption, which helps promote domestic and foreign adoptions as well as foster care.
Randy and Beth have a small farm in Round Hill, VA where they raise alpacas, as well as an assortment of other animals.
Tyson was born in Oxford, Ohio during the snowmageddon of 1978 earning him the unflattering ‘blizzard baby’ reference from his family. Coupled with the childhood teasing he took from being named Tyson, you can see how quickly character building shaped his life.
Working at the family-owned John Deere dealerships doing whatever his Mom and Dad told him to do seared into him a strong work ethic because he really didn’t have a choice. This would pay-off later in high school and college when Tyson sweated through every minute of every summer working at the farms, construction sites and janitorial apartment building jobs that helped pay for his Indiana University degree in Public Affairs.
Proudly telling his grandfather that one day he would be President, Tyson moved to Washington, D.C. after graduation and began working for his local Congressman, U.S. Representative John Boehner (R-OH). Tyson twice served on Boehner’s staff eventually advising him on things like agriculture, financial services, trade, and tax policy. His more noteworthy legislative accomplishments included the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, the American Jobs Creation Act and the Healthy Forests Restoration Act. Tyson has also hit the campaign trail a couple of times working on a Congressional election in the Great State of Arkansas in 2000 and for President Bush at the New York City GOP Convention and in the Best State of Ohio during the 2004 campaign. Tyson has also worked for the law firm of Olsson, Frank and Weeda, P.C. and directed government relations for the National Grain Trade Council.
What Tyson does when he’s not working usually involves Team Redpath which is this incredible family unit made up of a daughter named Helena, two sons, Thatcher and Weston, a Rhodesian Ridgeback named the Noble Miss Genevieve and his wife Renee who somehow manages to hold it all together with grace and style. Meanwhile he cares deeply about his sports allegiance to the Ohio State Buckeyes (even though he went to IU), the Cincinnati Bengals, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Washington Capitals. Otherwise he’s figuring out some new workout routine to punish his early mornings or searching for a career path that allows him to continue lobbying while coaching high school football. That combination continues to elude him.
Dan Glickman joined the Russell Group in November 2017 as a strategic advisor and counselor. He is Vice President of the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of The Aspen Institute Congressional Program. He also serves as a Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center where he is co-chair of its Democracy Project.
Prior to joining the Aspen Institute, he served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton Administration. He was appointed by former Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack as the Chair of the newly created Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. He also represented the 4th Congressional district of Kansas for 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives where he was very involved in federal farm policy on the House Agriculture Committee. He also served on the House Judiciary Committee and as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In addition, he is the former chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. and former director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has served as president of the Wichita, Kansas, School Board, was a partner in the law firm of Sargent, Klenda and Glickman, and worked as a trial attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
He received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Michigan and his juris doctorate from George Washington University. He is a member of the Kansas and District of Columbia bars.
Prior to joining the Russell Group in 2017, Karla Thieman served as the USDA Chief of Staff to Secretary Tom Vilsack. Karla first joined the USDA in 2014, serving as a Senior Policy Advisor to Secretary Vilsack and later as Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden. Previously Karla also worked for the Senate Agriculture Committee for more than five years, serving under three Chairs of the Committee: Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Blanche Lincoln, and Senator Debbie Stabenow. As senior professional staff on the Agriculture Committee, she handled a portfolio that included livestock, food safety, dairy, energy and climate change. Karla previously served in leadership positions on the campaigns of Senators McCaskill, Udall and Bennet.
Karla grew up on a third-generation family farm in central Missouri where her family raised cattle, corn and soybeans. She has a degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Missouri.
Jessica moved to Washington from Kentucky in 1999 and began her career as a Presidential Management Intern at the National Institutes of Health. In 2001, she joined the Democratic Staff of the Subcommittee as a professional staff member, where she handled FDA appropriations as well as research, conservation, food safety, and domestic nutrition accounts at USDA. Jessica was promoted to Clerk of the Subcommittee in 2012, and was responsible for managing the policy and funding priorities for the bill, as well as working with all Democratic Senate offices on their appropriations priorities for the FDA and Agriculture.
She lives with her husband Chad and their children in Falls Church, VA.
Andrew grew up working for the family business, Harker Painting, Inc. climbing ladders, building scaffolding towers, navigating walkboards, and, his personal “favorite,” overhead drywall sanding.
Andrew completed an internship with the House Agriculture Committee before graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in animal and poultry science. He completed 3 months of post-graduate work with Harker Painting before receiving a call from Randy Russell and Bill Lesher who offered to pay him for something other than climbing ladders or sanding drywall.
Andrew has been with The Russell Group since 2007. He helps manage the legislative and regulatory activities of The Russell Group and leads all coalition efforts.
Andrew currently lives in Virginia with his wife and children.
Prior to joining The Russell Group, Allyson worked on both sides of the aisle. She began her career on Capitol Hill as Staff Assistant for former Congresswoman Thelma Drake. She then served as Executive Assistant for former Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards for more than four years, managing the Congresswoman’s daily schedule as well as a variety of large-scale events.
Allyson grew up on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and received her Bachelor of Arts in English at James Madison University. She now lives in DC with her husband and their Boykin Spaniel, Conroy. She currently serves as Treasurer for The Washington Ballet Jeté Society and enjoys cooking, Penn State football, and cheering on the Caps.
Samantha joined The Russell Group in 2017 and leads the firm’s Legislative and Regulatory Affairs division. In addition to managing the firm’s coalition activities, she advises clients on a wide variety of policy issues, including sustainability and climate.
Samantha is passionate about vocational agriculture education and credits a four-year program offered at her high school for kickstarting her career. Her background is in environmental policy and she holds a B.A. from the George Washington University.
She lives in downtown D.C. with her fiancée, Adam, and their two Siamese cats (who make an appearance on Zoom calls from time to time). She enjoys staying active and exploring new hiking trails outside of the city. Samantha is also a proud member of the D.C. Family and Youth Initiative community, where she volunteers with and mentors teens in foster care.
Rainey was born and raised in Norman, Oklahoma. Her hometown is also home to the University of Oklahoma where she served as student body vice president, received a B.A. in Communications, and M.Ed in Higher Education.
Prior to joining The Russell Group, Rainey worked in both the government and nonprofit sectors. She started her career on Capitol Hill as Staff Assistant for fellow Oklahoman, Congressman Frank Lucas. She previously worked in fundraising for Shiloh Camp, an Oklahoma City nonprofit.
Rainey enjoys running, traveling, and cheering on the Oklahoma Sooners.
Alex moved to Washington, D.C. from Michigan upon graduating from Michigan State University in December 2017. For a year and a half, he worked for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) where he focused on international trade policy issues and domestic marketing issues, such as specialty crops, organics, and farmers markets. Alex previously interned with NASDA and the Democratic Staff of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee while participating in the Demmer Scholar Program. When not at work, Alex enjoys reading, traveling, and taking in Nationals games with friends.
Justina was born and raised on a 6th generation working farm and ranch in Hondo, Texas. Growing up in the agricultural industry cultivated a lifelong passion for education and advocacy in agriculture. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a B.S. in Agricultural Economics. During her collegiate career, she participated in various student organizations, study abroad programs, and internships.
Prior to joining The Russell Group, Justina interned for the House Committee on Agriculture. Her internship led to a full-time job with the Committee, where she served as the Deputy Clerk for over a year.
In her free time, Justina enjoys reading, cooking, and cheering on the Texas Aggies.