Back Issues of PDAA Today

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

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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June Forum to Focus on Governors as Ambassadors – Public Diplomacy at the State Level

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona and Gov. Claudia Pavlovich of Sonora, Mexico.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has a close relationship with Gov. Claudia Pavlovich of Sonora, Mexico. (Office of Gov. Doug Ducey, Governing Magazine)

(16 May 2018) The role of state-level government in public diplomacy will take center-stage at the June 4 First Monday program. The noon event is cosponsored by PDAA and takes place at the Elliott School on the George Washington University campus in Washington, D.C.

Governing Magazine recently pointed out that President Trump’s ‘America First’ message and his new trade policies have caused anxiety in states where the economy depends on investment from abroad. It’s pushing governors to hone their diplomatic skills.

The speakers at the June 4 event will be Scott Pattison, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Governors Association, and Tiffany Shackelford, Chief Strategic Officer and Director of the NGA’s new Global office.

Prior to joining NGA, Pattison served for over 14 years as director of the National Association of State Budget Officers, supporting governors’ chief financial officers and budget directors. Prior to NGA, Shackelford was the executive director at the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, where she focused on pushing the media industry forward through research and development of smart digital tools.

Monday forums are a joint project of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, USC Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, Public Diplomacy Council, and PDAA – an association of public diplomacy professionals. The event takes place on Monday, June 4, in the Lindner Family Commons room of the Elliott School at George Washington University, 1957 E Street, NW, Room 602, in Washington, D.C., beginning at 12 noon. Sandwiches and refreshments will be served.

The event is free, but advance registrations by e-mail are required:

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