Back Issues of PDAA Today

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

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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PDAA Awards Hail Public Diplomacy Officers for Creativity in Challenging Environments

Mark Bosse

Mark Bosse, Assistant Information Officer in Baghdad, leads training for government spokespersons (U.S. Embassy Baghdad)

(10 May 2018) The 2018 winners of the 21st annual PDAA Awards for Excellence in Public Diplomacy demonstrate the necessity of being able to utilize a basket of strategies in addressing the challenges of influencing public opinion in an ever-savvy global media environment.

From creating educational scholarships and producing social media platforms to training foreign official spokespersons in the art of media strategies and developing traditional exhibits, winners from our embassies in Korea, Panama, Thailand and Iraq have demonstrated that the public diplomacy officer has to be flexible and creative in crafting the right strategy for the right situation.

The winners are: Mark Bosse, then Assistant Information Officer in Baghdad and now Acting Public Affairs Officer in Dublin; Shim Jai Ok, Executive Director of the Korean-American Educational (Fulbright) Commission; Adrienne Bory, Information Officer in Panama; and the Public Affairs Section in Bangkok.

The winners were honored in a May 6 celebration at the Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C.  PDAA is a volunteer, nonprofit organization of current and former State Department, broadcast, academic and private sector public diplomacy professionals.

Mark Bosse, faced with creating support for a strong U.S.-Iraqi partnership at a time when senior Iraqi officials were making unfounded allegations of U.S. “atrocities” against civilians, developed and delivered a seven-month series of trainingsfor official spokespeople and over 150 media professionals from 12 Iraqi ministries.

That effort “led to positive local, pan-Arab, and international coverage of U.S. military and humanitarian efforts,” wrote then-Baghdad Information Officer Kim Dubois.” She cited the very positive statement on CNN in April 2017 by the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services spokesperson thanking the U.S. for “providing a better future for all Iraqis.”  Such a statement, Dubois said, would have been unimaginable a month earlier. “Thanks to Mark’s efforts, both personally and at the head of his team, the highest level voices of the Iraqi government touted the outstanding cooperation between our two governments.”

In South Korea, Shim Jai Ok persuaded both the South Korean and U.S. governments to put up hundreds of thousands of dollars for a new fellowship that targets the 3,100 college-aged defectors from North Korea.

In 2018, the first five North Korean students will start their graduate school fellowships in the United States. “Our hope,” wrote award nominator and former Seoul Cultural Affairs Officer Mark Canning, “is that the program will grow over the years to produce a cohort of western-educated defectors who will be well prepared to go back to North Korea and lead it into the global community when circumstances permit such a development.”

Adrienne Bory

Adrienne Bory, second from left, and an embassy team shooting a video with the ambassador (U.S. Embassy Panama)

Information Officer Adrienne Bory was hailed for her visionary use of social media platforms to get out accurate, positive stories about U.S. engagement in Panama.  These tools were instrumental in turning around public opinion when the country’s traditional media attacked the United States over money laundering sanctions and when false accounts erupted that the U.S. planned to use Panama as a staging ground for an invasion of Venezuela.

But, says award nominator Francisco (Paco) Perez, Public Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassy Panama, Bory’s sweeping influence was especially evident in her use of videos, which often went viral, that portrayed the Ambassador as “the approachable man of the people, able to deliver important, often tough, messages to the Panamanian public.” She also mentored Peace Corps Panama in launching its first ever Facebook and Instagram accounts, and provided regular media training to the Panamanian Ministries of Security, which has helped advance U.S. security interests in the region.

Rounding out the PDAA awardees is U.S. Embassy Bangkok’s Public Affairs Section, led by Public Affairs Officer Melinda Masonis, for its “Great and Good Friends” exhibition, developed over two and one-half years, highlighting the sustained and positive 200 year relationship between the United States and Thailand. Lisa Heller, director of the Office of Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said the new King of Thailand’s presence at the exhibit opening signaled strong support for the U.S.-Thai relationship, especially welcome after the tense relations that followed the military junta’s takeover of power in 2014.

The exhibit, which required the PA section to raise nearly $4 million and work cooperatively with the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives, Library of Congress, and Google, was covered by every national television station and viewed by millions of Thais. A 30-second video on the exhibit was released on 109 major Cineplex movie screens throughout Thailand. “Even McThai (local McDonald’s franchise) is featuring the exhibit on its tray mats, cups, and boxes at restaurants throughout the country,” Heller said.

The web site has a complete list of PDAA’s award winners since 1993.

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Cultural Diplomacy’s Future Examined at May Forum

Rapper Wordsmith

American rapper Wordsmith, with an Arab-Jewish band at the Rap for Humanity concert in Tel Aviv in 2016 (U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv)

(28 April 2018). The extent and nature of cultural diplomacy in the future will be explored at the next First Monday Forum, on May 7, 2018 at 12 noon. The event takes place at the Elliott School on the George Washington University campus in Washington, D.C.

A State Department advisory committee report in 2005 called cultural diplomacy “the linchpin of public diplomacy,” since it “reveals the soul of the nation.” noting the ideals of the Founding Fathers “take on new life in the vibrant traditions of American art, dance, film, jazz, and literature, which continue to inspire people the world over despite our political differences.”

Leading the discussion is Jay Raman, director of the Cultural Programs Division in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at State Department. Raman joined the Foreign Service in 2002, and served until 2017 as public affairs officer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. His work in Phnom Penh earned Raman one of PDAA’s awards for excellence in public diplomacy in 2017. His earlier public diplomacy posts include Quito, Guatemala City, and Tallinn. Raman has a degree from Harvard Law School and practiced law before joining the Foreign Service.

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, 7 May in the Lindner Family Commons room of the Elliott School at George Washington University, 1957 E Street, 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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