Meet The Team

It takes a dedicated team to bring events to life, and our strength is in our team of professionals – each bringing something different to our creative table. Learn more about the special mix of individuals behind each event we produce.

Joy Wallace | President and CEO

Respected by peers, cherished by clients, adored by her team, and inspiring to those who meet her, Joy Wallace has become an international catering industry icon. A southern gal at heart, Joy waited for her two daughters to enter high school before enrolling at Florida International University School of Hospitality for a second degree. Joy then went to work as the bookkeeper at downtown Miami’s prestigious Miami Club and was instrumental in developing the policies, procedures and clientele of a new off-premise catering venture. Eager for the freedom to bring her own style to the industry, Joy took the plunge, and on 12/01/1988 A Joy Wallace Catering Production, Inc. was born.

The cornerstone of the company will always be Joy's strong faith and sense of morality. Fueled by her infectious enthusiasm, Joy’s business aplomb has grown, her instincts about people (clients, employees and colleagues) have sharpened, and her sense of style has remained totally unique. She remains involved in the day to day operations of the company, drawn in by the excitement of a bustling office producing something new each day and her love of meeting and pleasing new clients, and of course, instantly turning them into new friends. Joy attends almost every event produced. Seeing our team’s events come to life is truly the best part of the business.

Years of industry experience make Joy an invaluable resource, as she is well attuned to client needs and treasures their trust in the company. A well traveled foodie, she speaks the international language of the guests we serve. Joy has a keen understanding of luxury service and expectations. She instills this into each member of her company. She considers the services AJW provides to be a responsibility – her team responsible for the most important day of their clients’ lives and it is the team’s responsibility to make them shine.

Ana Gait | Client Coordinator

Ashley Deoleo | Creative Design Coordinator

Ashley Deoleo is part of our wonderful Design Team. She formerly worked for an interior design studio, a photography studio and freelanced as a wedding and events planner over the course of four years before choosing to join A Joy Wallace. Weddings have a special place in her heart, however she has come to love corporate events as well through her AJW experience. Her passion for event design and sparkle has made her a wonderful asset to the company creative process.

Ashley is from New Jersey, of Cuban/Dominican descent and fluent in English, Spanish and conversational Portuguese. She is a huge shoe lover, football aficionado and self professed Pinterest addict. Ashley is a graduate of Florida International University with a degree in Hospitality & Event Management.

Bert Jones | Chief Operating Officer

Brenda Jones | Client Coordinator Assistant

Christopher Fernandez | Operations Coordinator

Elgin Woodman | Corporate Executive Chef

As Corporate Executive Chef, Elgin Woodman is responsible for the culinary artistry behind all A Joy Wallace catering events. From menu development to high volume production, she is at the helm of the company’s foodservice machine. Her proud Peruvian heritage speaks loudly through her food, with bold and expressive flavors aligned to a restaurant level experience – a welcomed encounter for off-premise event guests. However, it is her ability to culturally fuse and infuse diverse cuisines which offers our guests a true taste of Miami’s ethnic kaleidoscope. Truly, her greatest talent is in her ability to mass produce her creations, essential for a successful catering chef. A combination of palate, instinct and technical skill guide her to making each plate taste equally delicious and look beautiful; from first guest to last.

Elgin’s expertise and candid presentation skills have earned invitations to speak at a variety of industry conferences, educating culinary newcomers and veterans alike. Her work has also been featured in a variety of publications and magazines, both locally and internationally. Honored by the International Caterers Association, she was awarded Chef of the Year for outstanding culinary work in the catering industry.

Elgin is of Peruvian descent and has been cooking from a young age. She is a graduate of Florida International University with a degree in Hospitality Management and Johnson & Wales University with a degree in Culinary Arts. When Elgin is not up to her elbows in pots, pans, sauces and soups, she is an avid runner and outdoors enthusiast.

Ian Gomez | Design Operations Manager

Jessica Zeidler | Director of Design Production

As Director of Design Production, Jessica oversees our design division, focusing on the expansion of the team and production skill growth. Design is one of her strongest talents, and she works to stay ahead of the design curve, researching new products and trends to incorporate into events. Jessica is also involved in the business development side of the company as she believes connections are vital to growing a great company.

Jessica first joined the A Joy Wallace team after meeting Joy at a design event being executed for an on-premise location. Previously, she worked for a private event firm and for the Compass Group at the University of Miami. When Jessica joined the AJW team, it was first in catering sales, moving to design sales when an opportunity opened in the division. Her client focus was on corporate events as well as destination management companies, though she dabbles in weddings from time to time. Jessica still currently maintains several corporate and destination management clients for catering and design as her role has expanded.

A University of Florida graduate, Jessica has roots in Atlanta, Georgia but grew up in Miami. She is an avid runner, enjoys cooking at home and, a true wine enthusiast, is also pursuing her Sommelier Certification. Jessica was also named Event Solutions Magazine Female Rising Star and winner of the AFR Event Furnishings Annual Live Design Challenge in Las Vegas, NV.

John McPhee | General Manager, Vizcaya Musuem and Gardens Cafe and Shop

John is General Manager of our AJW operation at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens Café and Shop. Having served in many capacities within the company, he is easily one of our most recognizable faces. John first joined the team as a bartender, quickly growing into the event coordination position with the company. When a full time position opened on the team, John joined in sales and then later as the head of our Marketing Department – which blossomed due to his wonderful energy and natural talent at connecting with clients. John is truly at the heart of the AJW hospitality experience!

Prior to AJW, John spent a great deal of time managing restaurants, and this talent came back full circle when it was time to re-open the renovated Vizcaya Museum and Gardens Café and Shop, operated by the AJW team. John is now General Manager, responsible for the day to day operations of running a top caliber café and gift shop. This includes a boutique cafe dining experience, wonderful shop featuring unique Vizcayan treasures, all highlighted by exceptional customer service.

John was born in Michigan and graduated with a degree in Liberal Arts from Miami Dade College. He is a self professed book worm, and loves a great mystery novel! He also loves to travel and stay active.

Kellie Woodward| Purchasing & Product Development, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens Cafe & Shop

Kellie didn't choose the position, it chose her! Having the catering bug in her blood and loving it since the company began, her natural path was the family business. Since 15 years old, when she first learned to build buffet displays, Kellie knew that even if there were only two people around, it was still a party!

With her sunny demeanor, this Auburn alum has poured her heart into the Vizcaya Museum and Garden Shop, procuring the most unique selections from around the globe which reflect the beauty of Vizcaya. Her passion is to further our guest’s Vizcaya experience, by creating enduring memories thru the treasures they bring home.

Kellie is a Past President of the Florida Chapter of the Museum Store Association. Kellie enjoys family, product development, purchasing, travel, painting, reading, conferences, and…well be sure to ask her about her chicken farm!
Kelsey Richardson, A Joy Wallace Catering, Design and Special Events

Kelsey Richardson | Marketing Coordinator

Kelsey is the Marketing & Social Media Assistant here for the AJW team. Kelsey works with Sabdy to create creative marketing tools to showcase A Joy Wallace Catering, Design and Special Events in the best way possible. Everyone in the AJW team works day in and day out to create outstanding events through food, service, decor and logistics, and Kelsey helps show that hard work to the world through blog writing, social media posts and so much more. Kelsey graduated from Mercyhurst University with a degree in Communications, and a concentration in Visual Communications. This degree has taught her a lot about marketing, while also allowing the opportunity to learn more about the creative side of graphics. Her creativity and marketing knowledge has led her into the perfect role here with AJW.

Kelsey was born and raised in Upstate New York , however after many cold winters, and four years of college in Erie, Pennsylvania, she chose to move to the sunshine state, and make below zero winters a thing of the past. She is a lipstick and nail polish addict, has a great sense of humor and a big heart. Kelsey also considers herself a budding wine and scotch connoisseur!

Kevin Cossio | Director of Information Technology

Kevin’s primary role in the company is to keep all of our electronic systems functioning correctly, as well as recommending improvements. This also includes providing technical support to our employees. His secondary role, as a member of the Executive Board, is to assist in the analysis of data from our systems. This means collaborating with other departments to produce reliable information on which the company may base business decisions.

Kevin enjoys working with electronic devices at all levels, including physically creating them. Fun fact: he once created a replacement circuit board to fix the company's Cryovac machine; he added a few new features for extra credit! Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Kevin started working with A Joy Wallace when he finished high school. He joined the company 14 years ago as a waiter, and made his way up to becoming our IT Gem.

Outside of his employment, Kevin enjoys photography, which goes well with his love for nature and the outdoors. Also, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, he spends a significant amount of time studying the Bible, and assisting others to do the same.

Laurie Linchenat | Casting Coordinator

Laurie is responsible for “event casting”, selecting and scheduling the best staff for each AJW event. As a key component of our Operations team, this includes hiring of new staff, assigning for events, scheduling, assignments and accurate reporting of staff/event performance records. A demanding operational role, Laurie does it each day with a smile! Skilled in hospitality service, she is also a key trainer for new event staff and one of the company’s top event coordinators. In addition to staffing, Laurie is also tasked with managing the day to day flow of the main office.

Prior to joining the AJW team, Laurie spent 20 years working for the Malnati Organization in Chicago, IL. She trained in every area of their hospitality/food business: from orders/cashier to hostess, serving, accounting and event coordination - making her a multi-talented asset to the Joy Wallace team. Laurie was born and raised in Chicago, is a Crossfit enthusiast and enjoys spending time with her family.

Linda Fallowes | Executive Sous Chef

Beginning in the mountains of Aspen, Colorado and continuing to the Hudson Valley of New York, Linda’s passion for cooking began with an intrigue for the science of food. Her early career as a chef focused on both Corporate and College dining while engaging in some catering of her own. The 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta gave Linda her first taste of large event production and she was hooked.

Two cherished nieces later, she followed family ties to Miami, Florida where she planted her roots. Since 1997, Linda has been a part of the family at A Joy Wallace, actively involved in the production and execution of large scale high end catering events. In 2008, Linda took three Austral Summers off to flex her culinary muscles for the science team at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. With amazing stories full of experiences plus several encounters with penguins – Linda returned to her A Joy Wallace home and sunny Miami skies. Linda takes pride in her current role with A Joy Wallace in purchasing and preparing the fine fare that is coordinated with care for each and every event. Linda is a Culinary Institute of America graduate, and in her spare time she loves outdoor adventure trips, working on her home, and caring for animals.

Liz Bonnen | Operations Assistant Manager

Paula Gooden | Cafe Manager, Vizcaya Musuem and Gardens Cafe and Shop

Sara Silver | Director of Sales

As the Director of Sales, Sara focuses on producing uniquely themed events for unforgettable memories. She has developed a sharp understanding as to how each event is a component of the bigger branding picture for businesses. Sara is confident in guiding her clients which leads to long term partnerships with her clients built on a relationship of confidence and trust.

Smart solutions and business savvy help Sara connect with clients from experiential marketing agencies and luxury brands to educational institutions and charitable organizations. She is a member of Business Networking International (BNI), connecting her with a wide network of professionals. In 2015, Sara won the Rising Star Spotlight Award, presented by Event Solutions Magazine.

Candid and witty, Sara has an entertainingly honest view of the world. She loves to travel each summer, inspired by the food and history of each country. Sara is a Miami native and University of Florida graduate with a degree in Business Administration/Travel and Tourism concentration. Sara has a professional working proficiency in American Sign Language and is a proud Make-A-Wish foundation Wish Granter.

Thomas "TC" Chan | Chef de Cuisine

TC was born in South Africa and grew up in Johannesburg. He graduated with a degree in Culinary Management from International Hotel School. He developed a passion for cooking while in South Africa and worked in 5 Star leading hotels from the Park Hyatt as well as the Michelangelo Hotel. He spent two years training under a well known Sous Chef in Johannesburg, learning the Japanese Cuisine working at one of the top Japanese restaurants at the time, Osha. Having done high end events for celebrities like Oprah, Ivanka Trump, Discovery, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and working for well known chef , Jeff O’Neil has taught him new technique, skills, and knowledge.

TC is of Chinese descent with a mix of Asian and South African culture. He is fluent in English, Afrikaans, Chinese, and in the process of learning how to speak Spanish now that he is in South Florida. On his time off TC likes to relax at home making BBQ’s “Braais” with his wife, two young boys, and friends.

Yekaterina "Katia" Ponomareva | Client Coordinator

Yekaterina (known as “Katia”) is part of our Sales Team. She formerly worked at the W Hotel in Saint-Petersburg, Russia as well as the Mandarin Oriental and Rusty Pelican in Miami. Hospitality-driven, her experiences have given her an understanding of event service on an international level. Katia uses her diligence, strong work ethic and communication skills to solve even the most unique event challenges.

Katia enjoys travel and cooking, and aspires to pick up Spanish & Italian as her next languages. She was born in Vladivostok, Russia and is fluent in both Russian and German. Katia graduated from Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia with a Bachelors Degree in Linguistics and holds a Masters Degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University.