Who We Are

“In the world of agriculture and food policy, you won’t find a more respected ally for your lobbying team than The Russell Group.”

Tom Stenzel
President and CEO
United Fresh Produce Association

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

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 Redpath

Tyson was born in Oxford, Ohio during the snowmageddon of 1978 earning him the unflattering ‘blizzard baby’ reference from his family. Being named Tyson quickly developed character as well.

He grew up in the family John Deere business doing whatever his mom and dad told him to do because there were no alternatives. He did just about every job you can imagine living on a farm then working each summer as janitorial staff for residential rental properties. Much of this paid 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 where he 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. Legislative accomplishments during his tenure included the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, the American Jobs Creation Act, and the Healthy Forests Restoration Act. Tyson hit the campaign trail a couple of times working in Arkansas in 2000 and for President Bush at the New York City GOP Convention and in Ohio during the 2004 campaign. Tyson also worked for the law firm of Olsson, Frank and Weeda, P.C. and directed government relations for the National Grain Trade Council.

Team Redpath includes a daughter, Helena, and two sons, Thatcher, and Weston, two Rhodesian Ridgebacks and his wife Renee.

Tyson is up for any fitness routine, loves the Buckeyes, the Capitals, and all Cincinnati sports teams no matter how difficult that may seem. His updated playlist covers Hip-Hop, R&B Throwbacks, the best of the 80’s, the best of the 90’s, and Today’s Country.

Dan Glickman

Secretary Dan Glickman joined The Russell Group in November 2017 as a strategic advisor and counselor. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Food and Nutrition at Tufts University and Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center as co-chair of its Nutrition Initiative. Glickman is also Chairman of the International Advisory Committee of APCO Worldwide and a Senior Advisor of U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. He is member of the Board and Lead Director for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Glickman served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton Administration. He was appointed by former Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack as the Founding Chair of Food and Agriculture Research and continues to serve on the Board. He recently retired from his role as Vice President of the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of The Aspen Institute Congressional Program in March 2021. 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. While in Congress, he 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.

Secretary Dan Glickman 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.

Jessica Schulken

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 Senate Appropriations Committee as a professional staff member on the Agriculture Subcommittee, where she focused on funding the research, conservation, food safety, and domestic nutrition accounts at USDA, as well as FDA.

Jessica was promoted to Staff Director of the Subcommittee in 2012, and in that role was responsible for managing the policy and funding priorities for the entire bill, as well as working with all Democratic Senate offices on their appropriations priorities for USDA and FDA, as well as negotiating with the House of Representatives during annual conference negotiations.

During her tenure on Capitol Hill, Jessica worked for Senators Kohl, Pryor, Merkley, Byrd, Inouye, Mikulski and Leahy.  Along with routine appropriations bills, she also drafted and negotiated numerous supplemental funding bills.

She lives with her husband Chad and their children in Falls Church, VA.

Ashlee Johnson

Ashlee moved to DC from Arkansas and began her career on Capitol Hill in 2007, as a staffer to former Congressman Mike Ross (AR). She later served on the Senate Agriculture Committee under Senator Blanche Lincoln and joined the Obama Administration in 2011. She held multiple leadership positions at USDA, including White House liaison, chief of staff to the deputy secretary and also as a policy assistant covering rural affairs and immigration issues for the White House Domestic Policy Council.

In the private sector, Ashlee managed both state and local government relations for Tyson Foods. In 2018, she joined FMC Corporation as a member of the government affairs team before being promoted to serve as director of global sustainability. In this role Ashlee led FMC’s global sustainability strategy, including policy and program development, and the enterprise wide integration of ESG priorities. Ashlee also served as a member of FMC’s Social Justice and Racial Equity Executive Taskforce, where she helped develop global policies and practices to improve workforce diversity.

Ashlee is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, a professional member of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences, and a co-founder of the Black Professionals in Food and Agriculture Association.

Andrew Harker

Andrew joined The Russell Group in 2007 following an internship with the House Agriculture Committee. Andrew grew up working for the family business Harker Painting, Inc. He has a degree in Animal and Poultry Science from Virginia Tech.

Andrew has led a number of the Russell Group’s coalition efforts, including management of the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food, which successfully preempted Vermont’s GMO labeling law, and shepherded the federal rulemaking of a workable uniform disclosure standard. Andrew has also managed Coalitions dealing with key federal policies related to animal health and welfare standards, consumer product labeling, an international trade.

Andrew currently lives in Virginia with his wife and children.

Allyson Alvaré

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 Buchalter

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 Sewell

Rainey was born and raised in Norman, Oklahoma. She attended the University of Oklahoma as a 3rd generation Sooner where she received a B.A. in Communications, M.Ed in Higher Education, and served as student body vice president.

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, while he was serving as Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. She previously worked in fundraising for Shiloh Camp, an Oklahoma City nonprofit.

Outside of The Russell Group, Rainey volunteers as an alumni lobbyist for the Fraternal Government Relations Coalition advocating for college students and leads the DC Oklahoma Alumni Chapter. She enjoys running, traveling, and cheering on the Oklahoma Sooners.

Justina Graff

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.