Back Issues of PDAA Today

Back issues of PDAA Today, PDAA’s quarterly print newsletter are now online and available for download.

“Broadcasting the Voice of America in the Era of Disinformation” focus of October 1 event

Dr. Haroon K. Ullah, Chief Strategy Officer, U.S. Agency for Global Media (previously the Broadcasting Board of Governors), will be the featured speaker at the October 1 First Monday luncheon sponsored by PDAA, the Public Diplomacy Council, and the USC Center on Communication Leadership and Policy.

At USAGM, Dr. Ullah oversees the Office of Policy and Research, where he strives to elevate the new agency’s policy engagement in the interagency, strategic planning, and strategic initiatives functions. In addition, he oversees USAGM’s Office of Internet Freedom (OIF), which focuses on the technological and innovative efforts to circumvent internet censorship around the globe. Ullah’s main responsibility is “to lead the Agency to become a more strategically relevant agency within the national security, foreign affairs, internet censorship, and global media spheres.”

Ullah joined the erstwhile BBG from the Department of State, where he most recently worked on Secretary Tillerson’s Policy Planning Staff covering digital innovation, public diplomacy, and public/private partnerships.

He is also a visiting professor at Georgetown University and is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Ullah has also served as a senior Harvard University Belfer Fellow and International Director of SAB Negotiation, and his TV production “Burka Avenger” won a Peabody Award.

Ullah has an MA from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a joint Ph.D. from Harvard and the University of Michigan, and he was a J. William Fulbright Fellow, a Harvard University Presidential Scholar, and a Woodrow Wilson Public Service Fellow. His award-winning books include Vying for Allah’s Vote (Georgetown University Press), The Bargain from the Bazaar (Public Affairs Books), and the upcoming Digital World War (Yale University Press), which focuses on new uses for technology, transmedia, and digital content.

The First Monday program will take place at the Lindner Commons, Room 602, at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs, 1957 E Street NW, beginning at noon.

This event is free and includes lunch; those planning to attend are asked to register by sending a message to so that there is an accurate count for catering.

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The U.S. and Worlds Fairs: Expos as Global Soft Power

New York Worlds Fair
The Unisphere in New York’s Flushing Meadows was built for the 1964 World’s Fair. It symbolized “Man’s achievements on a shrinking globe in an expanding universe.” (© AP Images, courtesy of SHAREAMERICA)

Jim Cole, director of the State Department’s newly created International Expositions Unit, will discuss preparations for the next major world’s fair, Dubai 2020, as part of a U.S. initiative to employ global expos as a public diplomacy tool. The discussion will take place on September 10, 2018, as part of the First Monday series sponsored by PDAA, the Public Diplomacy Council, and the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy.

The September 10 forum will take place at noon at the at George Washington University’s Elliott School Lindner Family Common, 1957 E Street St. NW, 6th Floor. Lunch is included, but members planning to attend are asked to RSVP at

The Expo Unit in the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs manages U.S. engagement with the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), organizes U.S. participation at overseas Expos (also known as World’s Fairs), and mobilizes international support for U.S. candidacies to host Expos. The United States rejoined the BIE in 2017 following passage of bipartisan legislation H.R. 534 (U.S. Wants to Compete for a World Expo Act) signed into law by President Trump (P.L. 115-32).

Expos are considered a cost-effective platform to promote commercial and public diplomacy objectives, reaching millions of people in-person and millions more through traditional and social media. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan spoke about Expos and World’s Fairs at the 2017 BIE General Assembly in support of the Minnesota Expo 2023 bid.

The United States has had national pavilions at every overseas Expo since 1851 with the exception of two, and hosted a dozen World’s Fairs (the last was New Orleans in 1984).

The six-month long Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first Expo to take place in the Middle East, North Africa, or South Asia and is expected to attract 25 million visitors; 7 million of whom may visit the U.S. pavilion. The event coincides with the UAE’s 50th founding anniversary.

Image of U.S. Dubai pavillion Courtesy of

The theme of Expo 2020 Dubai is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, representing the potential of what can be achieved when meaningful collaborations and partnerships are forged. The Expo’s subthemes are Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability. The USA Pavilion will emphasize the “Mobility” sub-theme, and the pavilion’s architecture and interior design will communicate American progress, ingenuity, and innovation in social, physical, and mechanical mobility in commerce and the arts.

On June 5, 2018, the Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs announced the Department’s intent to partner with the Big Things Group, now known as Pavilion 2020 USA, for the USA pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Cities and states can serve as partners for the U.S. pavilion or even bid to host a World’s Fair themselves. In 2017, the U.S. candidate to host the 2023 Expo was Minnesota. Unfortunately, the United States lost its first bid to host a World’s Fair in 40 years to Argentina (Expo 2023). The next opportunity to host an Expo will be 2027/28 or 2030.

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DOD and Strategic Communication focus of September Discussion

American military officer explains psychological operations to Sri Lankan military in a program sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Colombo.

The US Embassy in Colombo sponsored a workshop for the Sri Lankan military in September 2017. It focused on “structure and purposes of psychological operations, information management, process of psychological operations, target audience analysis, recognition of propaganda and review,” according to a Sri Lankan military website. It was presented by USPACOM.

(Updated 9/12/18) A third speaker has been added to the lineup for the September 24 program. LTC Scott Howell from the Joint Staff Operations Directorate has agreed to participate. LTC Howell serves with a small team responsible for synchronizing strategic communications across the joint force. Joint Chiefs Chair Dunford established the office in 2017, and its efforts will interest PDAA members who have witnessed State grapple with the appropriate position for PD within the department since the closure of USIA. Prior to his current assignment at the Pentagon, Howell served at AFRICOM headquarters, so he can share his experiences from that region.

Department of Defense and State Department coordination in the information domain will be the focus of PDAA’s first discussion for the program year on September 24.

The speakers will include LTC Gregory Tomlin and retired FSO Don Bishop.

Tomlin’s first book, The Gods of Diyala, describes his battalion’s cultural training in Germany prior to deploying to Iraq. A Naval Post-Graduate professor went so far as to tell 4,000 troops that they could be “gods” in Iraq because the population would be in awe of their sophisticated, Western ways.  “Although hyperbolic, some-mid-grade officers and NCOs took the professor seriously,” Tomlin says. He disagrees with that approach.

Tomlin is currently chief of the Targeting Doctrine and Policy Branch on the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Targeting Division.

He will be joined by Don Bishop, the Bren Chair of Strategic Communications at Marine Corps University in Quantico.

Don served as a Foreign Service Officer for 31 years, attaining the rank of Minister-Counselor, and was President of the Public Diplomacy Council from 2013 to 2015 and is now a member of its board of directors.

The discussion will take place on Mon., Sep. 24, from 12:00 to 2:00, at DACOR Bacon House, 1801 F St., NW. To register, please complete the form on page 7 of the newsletter or register using the drop-down menu below. Deadline is Sep. 20 at 5:00 p.m. Thereafter, we will maintain a waiting list.

Select appropriate price from the drop-down menu

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August 6 Peace Corps Program Canceled

PCV Group 88 with Peace Corps Samoa staff. Photo credit: U.S. Department of State.

A discussion with Dr. Josephine (Jody) Olsen, Director of the Peace Corps, will be featured at the August First Monday luncheon. All PDAA members are invited.

Olsen was sworn in as the 20th Director of the Peace Corps on March 30. She previously served the agency in a variety of capacities, including as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia 1966-1968.

The program will take place on Monday, August 6, at 12 noon, at the George Washington University Elliott School, 1957 E Street NW, Room 602.

This program is free and includes lunch. Those planning to should register at

The First Monday programs are presented by the USC Annenberg Center for Communication Leadership and Policy, the Public Diplomacy Council, and PDAA.

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US Diplomatic Leadership and Cultural Heritage Protection

Palmyra Arch

Monumental Arch of Palmyra (By Bernard Gagnon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

PDAA is collaborating with DACOR on a program on U.S. Diplomatic Leadership and Cultural Heritage Protection. PDAA member Larry Schwartz will discuss the topic at a luncheon on Friday, July 13, from noon to 2:00 p.m.

For generations, the practice of cultural heritage destruction – from souvenir hunting to systematic exploitation and destruction for scholarly or religious purposes – has been largely ignored as a U.S. diplomatic priority. After all, American art dealers and collectors, as well as scholars and institutions make up one of the world’s largest markets for historic and cultural artworks. A little-known 1972 UNESCO Convention, adopted to help provide nations with significant protections through bilateral agreements, has been underutilized until recently. With the discovery of evidence that ISIS had been systematically exploiting cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria as a fund-raising mechanism and publicly destroying ancient sites as part of its war on pre-Islamic cultures, many nations in the Middle East have begun to take action to protect themselves against terrorist financing and criminal gangs that exploit the recent regional chaos. In partnership with leading American NGOs and institutions, the United States government is today building partnerships with friends around the globe to restrict illegal trade in cultural heritage.

Larry Schwartz recently retired from the State Department as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (2014-2017), where he advocated for bilateral cultural heritage agreements between the United States and countries in the Middle East region. As Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs in New Delhi (2006-2009), in Islamabad (2009-2010), and as Public Diplomacy Director in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (2003-2006) he supported and expanded partnership programs to restore and protect cultural property. Mr. Schwartz is quick to credit the work of many partners in this growing effort, as much work remains to be done globally. Yet he argues that advocating for cultural heritage protections demonstrates America’s respect to partner countries around the world and brings credit to U.S. global leadership.

The luncheon will take place at DACOR Bacon House, 1801 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006, and costs $25. To reserve a place, write to

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Nelson Mandela Centennial Focus of July 23 Forum

Sketch of Nelson MandelaThe centennial of Nelson Mandela’s birth will be the focus of a luncheon discussion on July 23. The program is jointly sponsored by PDAA, the Public Diplomacy Council, and the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy.

Mandela’s legacy as the first black president of South Africa and his peaceful rise to power has assured him a place in history. That legacy will be celebrated over the coming months in a variety of programs, including a PDAA program tentatively scheduled for November that will focus on modern South Africa.

The July 23 forum will take place at noon at the at George Washington University’s Elliott School Lindner Family Common, 1957 E Street St. NW, 6th Floor. Confirmed speakers include Prof. Nicholas Cull, Director, Master of Public Diplomacy program,University of Southern California, and Dr. Bob Wekesa, Public Diplomacy initiative, Department of Journalism and Media Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Lunch is included, but members planning to attend are asked to RSVP at

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