Back Issues of PDAA Today

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

Back Issues of PDAA Today Newsletter Now Online

PDAA Today

PDAA Today, January 2017 issue

(Updated 3/11/2021) PDAA is making available in electronic (PDF) format back issues of PDAA Today, its printed members-only newsletter. The newsletter is published four or more times a year and sent to PDAA members by mail. Click on the links below to see issues since September 2013.

The two most recent issues of the publication, however, will still be available only to members. Not a PDAA member? You can join online at

March 2021. PDAA President Joel Fischman leads off with an outline of the working groups that have been established to shepherd the merger of PDAA with its cousin, the Public Diplomacy Council. He notes that the report of the group that recommended the merger is available on the PDAA website. In an excerpt from his full article on the PDAA website, Michael Anderson describes the official residences he occupied while serving at nine posts in seven countries. Judith Baroody, with help from nine colleagues, describes the drama that goes into supporting VIP visits to overseas posts. She notes that, “Careers can tank or soar as a result of these encounters with the mighty and famous, and the key to success can be as simple as maintaining a sense of courtesy and humor.” Judy’s article, with links to the nine articles by her co-authors, is available on the PDAA website. In his obituaries for this issue, Member News Editor Claude Porsella reports the passing of former USIA Director Joseph Duffey. In addition, he announces that 103-year-old Frances Kolarek has passed away. Her husband, the late Joseph Kolarek, began his career in the Office of War Information. In an editor’s note, PDC Members are encouraged to update their contact information in MemberPlanet so that they can receive the printed version of the newsletter. All PDC and PDAA members are encouraged to include in their e-mail address books so that the newsletter does not get deposited in their junk folders.

January 2021. Former PDAA President Michael Schneider laid out an agenda for the organization for 2021. In his President’s Notes, PDAA President Joel Fischman announces that the Public Diplomacy Coalition Working Group has recommended that PDAA and the Public Diplomacy Council be merged. The Boards of the two organizations will be meeting soon to consider the recommendation. 2021 would be a year of transition before the full merger would take place. Joel also calls attention to the joint PDAA/PDC memorandum submitted to the Office of the President-Elect on November 29, 2020. The memo on Public Diplomacy: Re-engaging the World points to the need for consistent senior leadership in public diplomacy (i.e., an undersecretary who understands public diplomacy and commits to stay on the job). The memorandum is on the PDAA website. The Newsletter features a two-page spread focused on the sixtieth anniversary of the Peace Corps. PDAA Board member Bill Wanlund points to the PC’s role as an “incubator” for future public diplomacy officers. He introduces 12 PDAA members who are returned Peace Corps Volunteers whose stories are carried on the PDAA website. Also in the Newsletter, PDAA member Mike Anderson describes an unusual use of Zoom: He recently participated in a socially distanced farewell to New Delhi FSN Unni Menon, who retired after a 32-year career with USIS/PD. As Mike notes, “We may get tired of using Zoom, but we should never get tired of listening to the advice of local Embassy staffers.” Finally, the Newsletter announced that on January 19, 2021, the eve of the Inauguration, Richard Wike, the Director of Global Research at the Pew Research Center, will delve into new findings from overseas at a program entitled, How President-elect Biden is viewed from Abroad. 

October 2020. The Newsletter invited PDAA members to a Nov. 16 program with Michael McCurry and Michael Gerson discussing the implications of the 2020 Presidential Election. The November First Monday program, scheduled for Nov. 2, was also announced. It features the new director of GMU’s School of Media and Public Affairs.
PDAA Secretary Dom DiPasquale paints a picture of the organization thatPDAATD_202010 existed between the end of the Office of War Information in 1945 and the establishment of USIA in 1953. Board Member Bill Wanlund reports on the September 18 event with Pew Global Attitudes Research Director Richard Wike. The U.S. image has “plummeted.”
Leonard Baldyga remembers Public Diplomacy stalwart Tom Tuch. Paul Denig reviews Casablanca Blue, Judy Baroody’s new book.

August 2020. The Newsletter carried the revised date for the Paul Richter/Karen Tumulty program that had to be postponed from the spring because of the cancellation of all activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also carried the recipients of the 2020 PDAA Awards for Achievement in Public Diplomacy. Mark Jacobs reported on his life after the Foreign Service, noting that he finally had time that he had long struggled to find in order to undertake the writing that he focuses on today. Several obituaries were reported in the issue, including a memory by Michael Kristula of his request for tea and liver paté while being held hostage in Bolivia.

March 2020The Newsletter announced three programs that were later canceled: The April 20, 2020, program on Covering Foreign Affairs in the Changing World, the Annual Awards Brunch scheduled for May 3 at the Army and Navy Club, and the May 4 First Monday program at the National Museum of American Diplomacy focusing on the presentation of Public Diplomacy at the Museum. Judith Baroody provided an overview of a new book, From Quills to Tweets: How America Communicates about War and Revolution, to which she and the late Martin Manning contributed chapters. There was also a collection of photos from the March 2 First Monday program that focused on 80th anniversary of the International Visitor Leadership Program. Peter Becskehazy provided his observations on “Life After the Foreign Service: The View from Tucson.”

January 2020. The Feb. 24, 2020, PDAA luncheon discussion will focus on “The Power of Public Diplomacy: Leading Today’s Challenges” and will feature PDAA Achievement Award recipient Jean Manes. PDAA members remember the late Linda Jewell. PDC President, and new PDAA Board Member, Sherry Mueller recalls her memories of Senator Fulbright. She says his legacy gives her hope in turbulent times. PDAA Board Member Dom DiPasquale continues his exploration of USIA in popular culture. PDAA Member News Editor Claude Porsella shares the latest group of PD alumni who have left us. The PDAA Board has awarded honorary one-year memberships to Roth Endowment honorees. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has received the 2019 Edward R. Murrow Award for Multimedia in the Television Network category from the Radio Television Digital News Association.

October 2019. Two top State Department officials will discuss the Trump Administration’s reorganization of Public Diplomacy offices in the State Department; it is the first major overhaul of the PD sector since USIA was dissolved in October 1999. The Future of PDAA and of PDC was the focus of a Sep. 9, 2019, meeting. New PDAA Board Member Patricia Kushlis describes her role in representing “beyond-the-beltway” members of the association. PDAA Board Member Domenick DiPasquale informs us that USIA Lives (At Least in the Daily Crossword Puzzle).

August 2019. Voice of America Director Amanda Bennett will be the speaker at the first luncheon meeting of the program year on Sept. 16, whereas a special roundtable discussion among members of the Public Diplomacy Association of America, the Public Diplomacy Council, and other interested professionals has been set for Mon., Sep. 9, 2019, at noon. It will focus on the past, present, and future of organizations focused on Public Diplomacy. Dues for PDAA membership are going up effective September 1, Ambassador Sally Grooms Cowal describes A Life After the Foreign Service, New PDAA Officers and Directors are announced, and PDAA honors outstanding public diplomacy initiatives in its annual awards brunch.

March 2019. The Challenges of International Exchanges: The Last Three Feet Revisited will be the focus of the April 8 luncheon program. PDAA announces that its annual awards brunch will take place on May 5 and will focus on Excellence in Public Diplomacy. PDAA President Cynthia Efird reports on the PDAA-cosponsored February 25 event at American University that dealt with Making the Hard Case for Soft Power. In her President’s Notes, Amb. Efird asks out-of-town members how PDAA might better serve them and asks them and other PDAA members if they would be willing to serve on the PDAA Board of Directors. She also raises the possibility that PDAA may have to raise its dues in order to cover rising costs. Ambassador Greta Morris reports on the February 28 program on Engaging North Korea and Other Hard-to-Reach Audiences, and she summarizes some of the comments of Sungiu Lee, a North Korean defector who is in the U.S. on a Fulbright grant and who attended the Feb. 28 event.

January 2019. PDAA focuses on Engaging North Korea and other hard-to-reach audiences. Mike Anderson reports on a recent special PDAA program with veteran NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell. PDAA members recall their experiences with George H.W. Bush. PDAA President Cynthia Efird reports that PDAA has changed its official name to Public Diplomacy Association of America.

October 2018. Prospects for the Ramaphosa Administration Focus of November 19 PDAA Lunch Program. Mike Anderson describes his return to former posts and provides tips on “You can go home again.” Harriet McGuire describes her life after the Foreign Service and her experience with the Children’s Africana Book Awards. PDAA President Cynthia Efird describes the September program at which LTC Greg Tomlin pointed to his concern that DOD, by ceasing to appoint information officers at the Brigade level in 2017, downgraded our military’s ability to coordinate with State and others at the working level. Claude Porsella has an appreciation of the late Leo Sarkisian.

August 2018. The Departments of Defense and State cooperation on strategic communications to be discussed at September luncheon. Public Diplomacy creativity was highlighted at the annual Awards Ceremony in May. Leslie Nolan describes her life after the Foreign Service. PDAA President Cynthia Efird highlights the close cooperation between PDAA and the Public Diplomacy Council.

March 2018Some China observers have coined a new phrase ‘sharp power’ to complement already recognized ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ power. Two respected experts explore these and related questions. Ambassador Cynthia Efird, PDAA’s President, notes the firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steven Goldstein.

January 2018. Should promoting human rights and democracy be an important part of U.S. foreign policy? Can the efforts of the U.S. (and other countries) to promote democracy and human rights in other countries succeed, or can democracy develop and thrive only if promoted from within a country? Do democratic states, in turn, contribute to a more secure and stable world, or can democratic transitions lead to instability or even chaos? Two experts address these questions. Also, PDAA member Dick Virden write on Writing, Teaching, Speaking: Using Critical Skills in Retirement.

October 2017U.S. correspondents for various European media discuss rising populism in Europe and the U.S. Also, 2017 winners of the annual PDAA awards for excellence in public diplomacy demonstrated exceptional innovation, ability to connect with foreign audiences, and affect real change in challenging environments.

August 2017Fake news and disinformation pose a challenge to diplomacy, and particularly to public diplomacy. How can today’s public diplomacy professionals—whose job it is to explain the United States and U.S. policy and seek to persuade the citizens and governments of other countries to support those policies—do their jobs in the face of this omnipresent fake news and disinformation? Two State Department officials help answer these questions. Also, PDAA member Judy Aita writes on My Next Life: Local Activism and Politics.

March 2017Why is diplomatic engagement with religious groups so essential, and how can we do it more effectively? Dr. Douglas Johnston, founder and President of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, and Dr. Peter Mandaville, Professor of International Affairs at George Mason University respond.

January 2017. A PDAA lunch program panel describes the ways nations closely cooperate in space despite strategic differences on earth, and a former PDAA professional tells about her run for politicl office in Maine.

October 2016. Kristin Lord and Tara Sonenshine outline the public diplomacy challenges facing the new president, and Bill Parker explains how a former Foreign Service Officer became an advocate for space exploration as an instrument of foreign policy.

August 2016. Amb. Kenton Keith and former Deputy Assistant Secretary Jeff Brown discuss the current state of public diplomacy, based on their recent experiences inspecting posts overseas, and the 2016 Public Diplomacy Achievement Awards recipients are profiled.

March 2016. The April 2016 PDAA lunch meeting discusses the Paris accords on climate change, the annual Public Diplomacy Achievement Awards brunch moves to Fort Myer Officers’ Club, and Cynthia Farrell Johnson tells how she evolved into a children’s book illustrator.

January 2016. PDAA kicked off 2016 with a discussion of the role foreign policy could play in the 2016 pesidential elections, led by Mike McCurry, veteran political strategist and former spokesperson at State Department and the White House. In that issue, many colleagues remembered USIA youth and sports officer (and Olympic champion) Mal Whitfield, who died in November 2015, as a unique and inspiring individual.

October 2015. The November 2015 lunch program explores foreign policy implications of warming relations between the U.S. and Cuba. And Jacqui Porth tells about her post-PD career responding to casting calls, acting in entertainment and industrial films and videos.

August 2015. The September luncheon program discusses the definition and metrics surrounding public diplomacy audiences. And Bruce Byers tells how he published a novel, with advice for future great American authors.

March 2015. The March 2015 lunch program features a panel discussion of immigration issues. The annual awards event, now a brunch, is scheduled for May. Jon Schaffer tells what it’s like to host four Chinese teenagers in his home.

January 2015. A panel at the February lunch program describes the role of communications in global health crises, focusing on experiences with the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Mike Anderson tells about Ben Bradlee’s reluctant tenure in public diplomacy. Bob Chatten offers an appreciation of his good friend Vic Olason.

October 2014. Kurt Campbell, former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific is the featured speaker at the November lunch program. Joe Johnson describes how he became an illustrator. And Tom Tuch tells why VOA’s professional news and editorial operations are needed now more than ever.

August 2014. A panel at the September 2014 lunch program discusses Russia’s propaganda and influence in the Ukraine. And Fred Coffey gives his views on the way public relations and public diplomacy are becoming increasingly confused in the 21st century State Department, as he returns to his native Texas.

April 2014. Lois Barbaro describes how her work with the Lois Roth Endowment keeps her connected to cultural exchanges. The Santa Fe World Affairs Forum explores diplomacy as a way to talk with adversaries. And the annual awards dinner features an Italian menu.

March 2014. A panel at the April 2014 lunch program explores how exchanges can provide an American presence in Cuba while relations slowly return to normal. Than and Mimi Lwin describe their work with UNESCO. Former State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley discusses our public diplomacy deficit in a joint program with American Foreign Service Association.

January 2014. Lisa Choate of American Councils for International Education describes the value of youth exchanges at the February 2014 lunch program. Frank Albert remembers his friend Bob Gildea. And Nancy Snow offers an excerpt from her new book about Edward R. Murrow’s tenure as USIA director.

November 2013. A panel of State Department public diplomacy officers tell about their experience in details away from the Department in the December 2013 lunch program. Jim Bullock shares his experiences in being called out of retirement to become PAO in Tunis for the second time. And PDAA’s Web site gets a makeover.

September 2013. Carla Koppell of USAID and Sharon Kotok of State Department explore the role of women’s empowerment programs in fostering democratic reform and social change at the October 2013 lunch program. Kathy Brion tells about her experiences singing classical music with the Cathedral Choral Society. And Walter Roberts remembers his good friend Arthur Bardos.

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