Back Issues of PDAA Today

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

New Speaker Added to Feb. 28 Program on Engaging North Korea, Other Hard-to-Reach Audiences

(Updated Feb. 18, 2019) After decades of hostile or no communication, difficult, often halting efforts to negotiate, “soft power” diplomacy (including visits to North Korea by the New York Philharmonic and basketball player Dennis Rodman), and a dangerous ratcheting-up of nuclear brinksmanship in 2017, in March 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to meet. That first-ever US-DPRK summit took place on June 12, 2018, in Singapore. Hailed as a success by both leaders and by South Korea, which played a key role in brokering it, the summit’s results have been mixed or limited, although both leaders have pledged to hold another summit this year. 

President Donald J. Trump with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un | June 12, 2018 (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Looking beyond the prognosis for success of this latest effort, how can and should the United States engage a hard-to-reach country like North Korea, both diplomatically and using the tools of public diplomacy? PDAA’s Feb. 28 luncheon program will feature three distinguished experts who will discuss these issues with us. 

Ambassador Robert R. King, who served as U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues from 2009 to 2017, will begin the discussion by reviewing diplomatic engagement efforts with North Korea, particular those related to human rights issues, and offering his thoughts on how future negotiations could be successful.  As Special Envoy, Ambassador King coordinated and promoted U.S. efforts to improve human rights in North Korea, negotiated with senior North Korean officials, secured the release of an American citizen being held in North Korea, and represented the U.S. in Geneva and New York on North Korean human rights issues. Ambassador King is currently Senior Advisor to the Korea Chair at CSIS, a Senior Fellow at the Korea  Economic Institute, and a Board Member of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. He earned his Ph.D. at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and is the author of five books, as well as many journal articles and book chapters.    

Ambassador Joseph Yun, who was originally scheduled to speak on diplomatic engagement with North Korea, will be part of the CNN team covering the U.S.-North Korean summit in Vietnam, February 27-28.  We are very fortunate that Ambassador Robert King has agreed to discuss diplomatic engagement, particularly as it relates to human rights issues, at our February 28 program.

To discuss engagement with North Korean and other hard-to-reach audiences through civil society, we will be joined by Dr. Lynn Lee, Associate Director for Asia at the National Endowment for Democracy. Dr. Lee is responsible for NED’s democracy and human rights programs for the East Asian region, including North Korea, China, and Vietnam. Prior to joining NED, Dr. Lee was a senior project manager at InterMedia. She holds a doctorate in development studies from Sussex University and an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. 

Our third speaker, Dr. Shawn Powers, will discuss U.S. Government–supported broadcasting as a means of engagement with North Korean and other challenging audiences. Dr. Powers is currently the Acting Chief Strategy Officer at the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which oversees VOA, Radio Free Asia, and other U.S. Government broadcasting services. He will discuss U.S. broadcasting’s initiatives to reach North Koreans as well as Chinese, Iranian, and other hard-to-reach audiences. Prior to joining USAGM, Dr. Powers was Executive Director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. He is currently on leave from his position as Associate Professor at Georgia State University, where he leads the Center for Global Information Studies. He earned his Ph.D. from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and has held fellowships at the London School of Economics, Oxford University, and the University of Pennsylvania. 

The discussion will take place on Thurs., Feb. 28, 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 on-line using the drop-down menu below. Deadline is Feb. 25.







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New Programs Announced With Marie Royce, NED Officials

The Public Diplomacy Association of America (PDAA), the Public Diplomacy Council (PDC), and the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy have announced two upcoming “First Monday” programs.

Assistant Secretary of State Marie Royce will be the guest at the March 4 program. Secretary Royce heads the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Shanthi Kalathil and Dean Jackson of the National Endowment for Democracy will be the guests at the April 1 program, where the focus will be on “Authoritarian Digital Influence Operations: Understanding Supply and Demand.”

Both programs start at 12 noon and take place at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, 1957 E Street NW, room 602. These programs are free and lunch is included, but we ask that in order to have an accurate count for catering, please RSVP to

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PDAA to Cosponsor Program on “Making the Hard Case for Soft Power”

The Public Diplomacy Association of America (PDAA) is cosponsoring with the American University School of International Service and others a program on Mon., Feb. 25, 2019, at 5:30 p.m. on “Making the Hard Case for Soft Power.” Details and RSVP:

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Cultural Diplomacy: DC’s Art Museum of the Americas

By Mary Jeffers

“Heroes and Artists Come to the Pan American Union to be Consecrated, 1962” by Nicaraguan artist Asilia Guillen

At the edge of the National Mall, hardly more than a stone’s throw from the Department of State, is the Art Museum of the Americas, one of the world’s leading collections of modern and contemporary art from the Western Hemisphere.

The Art Museum of the Americas (AMA) forms part of the Organization of American States (OAS), and is an increasingly important public diplomacy tool in furthering the OAS’s goal of promoting democracy, peace, justice, and solidarity among its 35 member countries – one of which, of course, is the United States.

Not only does the AMA hold a fantastic collection, it is housed in a jewel of a building, and regularly hosts art openings, receptions, concerts, lectures and other events – thanks in part to the private non-profit “Friends of the AMA,” the other half of a vigorous public-private partnership dating back to the 1970’s.

PDAA members with an interest in Western Hemisphere affairs and/or cultural diplomacy will be intrigued by this unique art museum, and even more so by the fascinating history of the museum’s collection and how it came into being.  Continue reading here.

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The Legacy of Walter Roberts

By Thomas Miller

If the measure of a man is the legacy he leaves behind, few people can match Dr. Walter Roberts.  Walter Roberts helped found the Voice of America, played a key role in establishing the Salzburg Seminar, launched the Fulbright program in Yugoslavia, and helped found the precursor to the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communications at George Washington University.   Thanks largely to the generous donations of Walter Roberts, his family, and his very wide circle of friends, a Walter Roberts Endowment continues to support public diplomacy activities at the university. Click here to continue reading.

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2018 Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy Announced

The Public Diplomacy Association of America (PDAA) congratulates Nicholas G. Barnett, the Information Officer at American Embassy Addis Ababa, for being awarded the 2018 Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy.

Photo of Nick Barnett

Speaking at the opening of DevFest-Addis, Embassy Spokesperson Nick Barnett (above) said, “Technology can be a powerful tool for giving people a voice and the means to improve their societies through innovation. The U.S. Embassy is proud to be a partner for this event and hope that participants will find resources here at our American Center that allow them to continue to pursue their interests.” Barnett is the recipient of the 2018 Murrow Award.

The State Department announced the award and said Barnett’s selection was based on his strategic use of public diplomacy programs and tools to promote Ethiopia’s political reform and lasting viability as a strategic U.S. partner.

The prestigious award recognizes significant contributions in the field of public diplomacy and sustained demonstration of the special qualities that reflect the integrity, courage, sensitivity, vision, and dedication to excellence that Edward R. Murrow exemplified so well. The award consists of a certificate signed by the Secretary of State and $10,000. PDAA has made Mr. Barnett an honorary member for 2019.

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