Business Newsmakers/Lynda Webster – Non-profit event queen

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Ive been putting on events in one capacity or another my whole life, said Lynda Webster, founder and chair of The Webster Group, an event-planning company working principally with non-profits.

Her first effort was an elementary school Christmas play to benefit the Salvation Army. Todd Purdum, now National Editor for Vanity Fair, was my Joseph and we netted $100.

Webster is still doing events for the Alexandria-based Salvation Army, but shes netting a bit more. Its kind of an oxymoron, but we do the Salvation Army fashion show every year.

When Webster took charge she was told to fix it of kill it, as the event was only netting $10K. Her first year in charge it raised  $130K. Maybe its not such an oxymoron after all.

After business school at SMU, Webster was approached to work for the CIA.

The polygraph was grueling, but she was welcomed to the agency. Then I flunked the health exam. It turned out all right when Webster, a history major, landed a job as marketing director at the Willard in 86.

It was a dream job to be in a hotel full of storiesThe Battle Hymn of the Republic was written there, Abe Lincoln was smuggled into the hotel.

Moving from one historic hotel to the next, Webster went on to the Watergate and then the Four Seasons in Boston. The good thing about it was that the man I was dating realized how much he missed me.

The man in question was William Webster, then-Director of the FBI, later head of the CIA and since 1990, Lyndas husband.

It was amazingly hard to keep up with him and have a full time job, Webster says of married life. After a year back at the Watergate I said this is too much.

Webster was volunteering for events when Najeeb Halaby, Queen Noors father, who served as Chairman of the Board of Save the Children, hired her to help with a fundraiser where they netted 500K. In 95, the Webster Group became official.

We recently got on the GSA Schedule which means we are pre-qualified to do work with the government, says Webster.

The group is also in the first phase of a feasibility study for an Eisenhower Memorial, which would lie between the Air and Space Museum and the Department of Education.

And in a city with memorials on every block, Webster points out there are no memorials to the judiciary. The Webster Group is working on the John Marshall Park development across from the Newseum. In Justice OConnors words, its about time.

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